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
- the baby’s laugh
- the belly laugh
- the between-old-friends laugh
- 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.)
- the bubbling-up-from-the-inside laugh
- the chortle
- the chuckle
- the contagious laugh (the laugh that comes from other people laughing)
- the embarrassed laugh
- the fake laugh
- the giggle
- the guffaw
- the hiccup laugh
- the hyena laugh
- the I-can’t-believe-it laugh
- the I-can’t-stop-my-sides-hurt laugh
- the I-know-what-you’re thinking laugh
- the I-love-learning-this laugh
- the inside joke laugh
- the last laugh
- the laugh my ass off
- the laugh of victory
- the laugh that lasts
- the laugh to die for
- the laugh you laugh when you are alone
- the LOL
- the ROFL
- the make-light of a shared, but not completely believed thought laugh
- the pee-bringer
- the punch drunk laugh
- the satisfaction of an epiphany laugh
- the scary laugh
- the sexy laugh
- the shared-self-recognition laugh
- the snarf
- the snicker
- the snigger
- the snort (often followed by the you-just-snorted)
- the stifled laugh
- the tears-bringer
- the that’s-true-for-me-too laugh
- the titter
- 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.