“Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on” – Bob Newhart
I always think of comedians such as Bob Newhart as the true experts on laughter. It’s one thing studying laughter’s forms and functions for academic purposes, but it’s an entirely different thing being able to make others laugh. There’s a level of insight and understanding of laughter that can be gained only by someone who has stood on a stage in front of a crowd of people who have handed over cash in return for the promise of laughter.
Bob Newhart’s perspective on the distance which laughter provides us from events, which have knocked us off balance in some way, is powerful and succinct. In my own research I have spent a great deal of time examining the language which people use when they talk about how they believe laughter has helped them to heal. It seems to me that Bob Newhart is entirely correct, in that laughter provides people with a sufficient emotional distance from challenging events to allow them time and space to reconceptualise challenging events in less stark terms than they might have without the aid of laughter – That’s the psychologist’s perspective.
Another quote by Bob seems very appropriate at this point “I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.