by Bonnie Wurst – Montreal Times
What’s so funny? Almost anything, if you let it be. What I’m getting at here is the role of humour – the role of humour in our daily lives, at home or at work, with friends or new acquaintances. The role of humour to heal – ‘Humor Soup for the Soul’. Just like chicken soup, humour can take care of a myriad of ills, from political woes to the common cold. And if you add in a Matzo ball or two – it can also give you gas.
Humour, or rather the use of humour, was a gift I received from the powers above and enhanced by mentors like my late grandfather Zaida Issie, a real kibitzer who laughed so much he cried tears of joy regularly. He was a man who received great joy cheating at card games and found it even funnier if he got caught… “BUT DON’T TELL BUBBY!” he would say. Actually when I think of it, we were always being told ‘NOT TO TELL BUBBY’ anything. I’m not sure what we were supposed to be so afraid of – or what would have happened if we did tell our grandmother. But I’m pretty sure it had something to do with her decision to take her girdle off at night or not, so for Zaida’s sake – we never told Bubby Molly lots of things.
I found mentors everywhere; teachers, friends, colleagues and even strangers. What I use humour for in my writing is to open discussions with people about current events, ideas or things important to them. And sometimes it’s just to offer a good laugh in the middle of a long, cold winter or dreary day – a little whimsical babble to warm the soul.
I take the world, people and events around me very seriously, but one of the most important things I learned is not to take myself too seriously. I learned to laugh at myself in the best way possible. And I still like me.
I discovered that one can open up peoples’ hearts and minds to new or even old ideas with the use of humour. When people are receptive, ideas can be exchanged, sharing and learning from one other can take place, points can be made – and closed minds can be opened. Humour helps to shift perspective just enough to allow one to see situations in a different light.
It is also infectious. The sound of laughter is far more contagious and spreads more rapidly than any cough or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it brings people together in a happy and more intimate way. Laughter also triggers physical reactions in the body. Humour and laughter have been proven to strengthen the immune system, boost energy, diminish pain and bring down stress levels. And not only that – this medicine is free and there are no waiting lines or forms to fill out.
I know a few people who can use a prescription right now.
Rob Ford comes to mind, but he’d be the first and only one who would find a way to abuse the medicine, by somehow managing to take some humour, roll it up and smoke it – or snort it.
And then there’s Justin Bieber. What a mess. With all the drug and assault charges and inexplicable behavior, he clearly hasn’t been a Happy Camper. It’s actually nothing to laugh about, he’s really still a kid.
But perhaps a little dose of humour soup would help ease the anxiety he must be dealing with.
And Stephen Harper? The whole senate reform debacle and consequent slaps on the wrist handed down by the Supreme Court must have made him even crankier than usual. I would prescribe a full bowl for him. “Hey Stevie! Did you hear the one about the pipeline and the grain fed chicken trying to cross the road…”
As for Pauline Marois, I’m inclined to imagine what medicine my late Bubby Gertie would have offered her:
“Paula, first of all… get a girdle! A voman like you should valk around like dat? I know tings aren’t going so vell for you now, but right or wrong – you showed some serious chutzpah. I like dat. But listen to me Paula, da truth is, da only ting I see separating right now is… your girls! Da girls could use a little lift, no?
Maybe you should take up a little knitting… it’ll relax you. You’re too stressed out. And a little schnapps vonce in a vile vouldn’t hurt… and chicken soup. Don’t forget da chicken soup! Ven is da last time you had a goot bowl full??? But vatch da matzo balls… too many can slow da train down, if you know vat I mean.”
Back then, chicken soup was pretty much the answer for everything, but in today’s world we need a little more than that to cure the ills around us.
At my speaking engagements for business groups, associations and events, or when emceeing a special occasion, I address specific topics or themes pertinent to the group – or I roast, toast and host with the best of my wit and whimsy – but I always conclude these engagements by sharing a saying I heard a long time ago:
Smile, because smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter… it’s hysterically contagious!
Bonnie Wurst is a freelance journalist, a weekly columnist and feature writer for the Montreal Times, a novelist, ghost writer (not the scary kind) and humourist. Her book “Damaged Goods Re-Stitched” can be found on Amazon.com. For ‘HUMOR SOUP FOR THE SOUL’ speaking engagements & workshops, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org