The Science Of Laughter

Giggles, chortles, twitters and full-on guffaws – we’ll look at the science of laughter. We need it!

Guffaw (lintmachine/Flickr)

Guffaw (lintmachine/Flickr)

To laugh is human.  It’s also chimpanzee.  Maybe that’s why we laugh.  A gift of evolution.  We giggle, we chortle, we belly laugh, we howl.  When we’re kids, we roll on the floor with laughter.  As adults we laugh for all kinds of reasons:  to schmooze, to rejoice, to flatter, to seduce.  To just let it rip, let it roll, at life’s absurdity.

Life’s humor.  Behind the guffaws, there is a science of laughter.  We’ve got a laughter guru with us today.  While you’ve been laughing, he’s been listening.  Learning.

This hour, On Point:  laughter, and the science of laughter.  What the yuks are all about.

-Tom Ashbrook


Robert Provine, Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he is Assistant Director of the Neuroscience Program. He’s the author of  Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.

Sue Gillan, a Second City alumni and actor and director.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

MSNBC “Laughter is part of the universal human vocabulary. All members of the human species understand it. Unlike English or French or Swahili, we don’t have to learn to speak it. We’re born with the capacity to laugh. ”

Video: YouTube Baby Laughing Sensation

This video of a baby laughing hysterically has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Video: Cracking the Code of Laughter

Check out this video of Robert Provine at the Chicago Humanities Festival in 2010 talking about the latest in laugh research.

Video: I Love To Laugh

Here’s a video of the song I Love To Laugh, from the 1964 film Mary Poppins.


The Okeh Laughing Record by Otto Rathke

I Love to Laugh by Dick van Dyke, Ed Wynn, Julie Andrews

Make Em’ Laugh by Glee Cast Version

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