my kind of laughter

by Bernard De Koven on August 27, 2012

There are different kinds of laughter. Just like there are different flavors of fun. I’m not sure how many kinds of laughter there are. For the time being, let’s consider two.

Before I get too pithy, there are clearly more than two different kinds of laughter. In witness thereof, I’d like to take this opportunity to share a list of 43 other kinds of laughter. It was developed by a group that has become perhaps the one reason why I’m still on Facebook. They call themselves 10 things I (expurgated) love about now. They have a better word than “expurgated” to describe the intensity of their love. I chose to keep it to myself and theirs. The list was complied by the highly commended Lori Kane.

How many words for laugh does our tribe have?

by the 10-Things-I-(expurgated)-Love-About-Now tribe

  1. the baby’s laugh
  2. the belly laugh
  3. the between-old-friends laugh
  4. the body laugh (differentiated from the belly laugh and the pee-bringer as follows: the body laugh makes people buckle and lose control of their limbs as they flail or are stuck frozen in the absence of breath while they desperately try to gasp for air.)
  5. the bubbling-up-from-the-inside laugh
  6. the chortle
  7. the chuckle
  8. the contagious laugh (the laugh that comes from other people laughing)
  9. the embarrassed laugh
  10. the fake laugh
  11. the giggle
  12. the guffaw
  13. the hiccup laugh
  14. the hyena laugh
  15. the I-can’t-believe-it laugh
  16. the I-can’t-stop-my-sides-hurt laugh
  17. the I-know-what-you’re thinking laugh
  18. the I-love-learning-this laugh
  19. the inside joke laugh
  20. the last laugh
  21. the laugh my ass off
  22. the laugh of victory
  23. the laugh that lasts
  24. the laugh to die for
  25. the laugh you laugh when you are alone
  26. the LOL
  27. the ROFL
  28. the make-light of a shared, but not completely believed thought laugh
  29. the pee-bringer
  30. the punch drunk laugh
  31. the satisfaction of an epiphany laugh
  32. the scary laugh
  33. the sexy laugh
  34. the shared-self-recognition laugh
  35. the snarf
  36. the snicker
  37. the snigger
  38. the snort (often followed by the you-just-snorted)
  39. the stifled laugh
  40. the tears-bringer
  41. the that’s-true-for-me-too laugh
  42. the titter
  43. the you-just-snorted laugh (often following the snort)

And now, to the pith wherein I contemplate two of the more major categories of laughter.

One, we’ll call purposeless. The other purposeful. I was going to say “genuine” and “fake.” I decided not to.

Purposeful laughter is the kind of laughter that people make when they are trying to get other people to laugh, or when they’re laughing because they think it’ll be good exercise, or when they laugh at someone whom they want to make feel bad, or when they laugh at someone they want to make feel good.

Purposeless laughter is the kind that comes when we find ourselves involved in something fun or funny or frightening. It’s a reaction to a situation. We don’t mean anything by it. We’re not trying to change anything or one. Not even ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong (unless you need to), I think discovering that you can make yourself laugh is genuine gift. It works. It works because it sounds funny, and if you are making yourself laugh with other people who are also making themselves laugh, it starts sounding real. Which turns out to be an easy thing to fake. And then it makes you breathe. And it makes you better.

I don’t like to make myself laugh, despite the many salubrious effects of doing so. I don’t even like to make myself smile. I know, I know, it’d be good for me, it’d make me more popular with the people who listen to me or watch me or even see me, because then I’d look and sound like the kind of guy who devotes his life to fun and play and stuff. Except a lot of time that guy isn’t joking. A lot of time that guy is trying to do something he takes very seriously, in deed.

I do so love to laugh. I especially love to laugh with other people.

But I hate the sound that people make when they make themselves laugh. I know it’s not meant to be genuine laughter. But, still, I hate how in-genuine it sounds. Same with smiles. How, well, fake they look.

I love the laughing sound that people make when they play together. It’s like the laughing sound kids and babies sometimes make. The laughing when they’re not making themselves laugh. When things are. Puppies are. People are. The game is. It sounds like their very selves are laughing.

I know, I know, it’s all oddly reminiscent of what I described, now that you think about it, as my kind of fun. But if I had to choose one kind of laughter, that’s the kind of laughter I’d want to hear myself laughing. That’s my kind of laugh. The purposeless kind.


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