Those who know me will not be surprised to know that my favourite word is “Silly”. But, what they don’t know is that “silly” may be one of the most important components in the universe. And, in my opinion, the most underrated word in the English language. My other favourite word is “Telephone” – it’s just got a nice ring to it.
Silliness is the major component of laughter
It’s the active ingredient if you like. Without silliness we don’t laugh. We might chuckle, nod and smile. But laughter, deep belly laughter, comes from a part of our being that is triggered by silliness.
It doesn’t come from clever. Clever is great, don’t get me wrong. And can be funny to a point. A clever, well-crafted series of words or actions trigger a response to smile and feel something inside that warms us and takes us to a happy place. It’s wonderful. Often we’ll see humour that’s clever and think, wow, that was great, and feel happy, but we’re not laughing. You see, laughing doesn’t come from the same place. Laughter lives deeper.
It’s silliness that triggers a deep-seeded emotion that bursts out of us. And when it does, this joy is one of the most amazing things a human being can feel. In these moments of elation, you feel no pain, neglect, fear, self-doubt or confusion.
Many medical professionals have said laughter is the best medicine.
Well, if this is true, then “silly”, by its very nature, is one of the most potent natural medicines the world has ever known.
Of course, like all aspects of humour, silly is subjective too. Someone might laugh at Basil Fawlty but scoff at Frank Spenser. Or, your mood can change and something that made you laugh one day, may not the next. You might not be in the same place to accept silly. But, please, whatever it is, don’t scoff at, or underplay silly when it comes to good humour.
Silly is a part of human evolution
Has been ever since Ugg took a wayward club to the testicles and sent his fellow cave dwellers into hysterics. And, great comedians know silly instinctively. It sets great comics apart from the rest. They seem to find that place where silly and clever live together. And wow, when that happens, it resonates in us like nothing else.
If there was a scientific formula or equation for silliness in good humour, it might look something like this:
s x cL ÷ cR = hAhAhA = oXY = j
Put into layman’s terms:
Silly x Clever divided by Creativity leads to Laughter leads to Increased “Feel Good” Hormones = Joy!
And laugh we must
You see, laughter is a natural pain killer – producing endorphins to help reduce anxiety, ease chronic pain and reduce stress hormones. It strengthens heart muscles by accelerating heart rate. At the same time toning your abs by flexing and relaxing your stomach muscles. It boosts immunity by activating T Cells, which again, help reduce stress hormones. It may help you look younger as up to 15 facial muscles are used to help you smile and laugh. It’s definitely a mood enhancer – easing emotional discomfort and increasing positive outlook on life. And importantly, for us as a society, laughter can bond people together – increasing the joy in our social, physical and working life.
In closing, I just want to say, silly is my favourite word, and it can be yours too. I don’t mind sharing. It’s not as much fun being silly on your own. And, when I say silly, of course I don’t mean foolish and irresponsible. I mean silly as exaggerated, funny behavior. But whatever you decide, please don’t underrate silly, or dismiss a piece of humour as just “Being silly”. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. But don’t blame silly.
Silly is important to future generations
For without silliness, we don’t really laugh! So, instead of telling our kids, co-workers and each other not to be silly, perhaps we can say something like: ‘Don’t be foolish or irresponsible, but for the sake of your health, well-being and our society, be as silly as possible.’ We’d be foolish and irresponsible not to.
And, to the greats of silly: Python, Stooges, Munsch, Milligan, Carey, Ullman, Ferrell, Abbott, Costello, Kennedy, Ball, French, Ronnies, Connolly, Williams, Marx, Brooks, Zucker, Groening, Costanza, Fawlty, Spenser, Smart, my old mate Neil, my uncle Tiger and to every parent that’s ever said to their kids: ‘Pull my finger.’ I salute you all! And to the countless many I’ve missed, I apologise.
Stay silly Planet Earth,