We all love to laugh and take laughter as a sign of all is well or sometimes of all is all too well.
On one rare occasion I got reflective about laughter and started pondering over some very basic questions:
What is laughter?
And what makes us laugh?
What does laughter tells or signifies?
The questions are dull enough to wipe out even the last trace of laughter from a face.
After some deliberation I realised that it would be wrong to believe that laughter is just – well – laughter.
Biologically, laughter is a well synchronised process of successive exhalations accompanied by sounds created by vocal cords. The trigger of laughter is usually a sense of pleasure derived from a stimulus through senses or memory. Although laughter is seemingly a physiological phenomenon, it has deeply emotional and sociological undercurrents.
Put in a simpler way there are various shades of laughter on the basis of its trigger. Some of these shades are:
Laughter of amusement
Obviously the most common shade of laughter, it is visible when people heartily laugh on a joke.
“Boss is always right” Laughter
This shade is visible when we have to laugh at a poor joke or a joke that we don’t comprehend. This we usually do when the joke has been cracked by someone at socially higher pedestal who ironically is not laughing at all.
“I am the boss” Laughter
This implies that a person laughs at a relatively insignificant point and that laughter is more of a reminder of authority and power.
Laughter filled with cruelty
You are quite likely to have witnessed people hurting a street dog and enjoying with hearty laugh.
“I’ll be back” Laughter
When subjected to pain and torture captives have been known to use laughter as a sign of defiance and to disparage the oppressor. Even students punished by teachers sometimes resort to this shade of laughter.
Laughter of anger plus desperation
This shade of laughter is indicative of slightly unstable state of mind caused by lot of unpleasing things piling up.
“I did it” Laughter
Very often we witness this shade of laughter when a bowler has just taken a wicket or a striker has scored an important goal.
“I’m the best” Laughter
Usually this shade appears when someone narrates a tale of victory against odds especially related to war experiences.
“Johnny Johnny” Laughter
This form is common among kids when they are about be caught doing something wrong to direct the attention of parents away from the main issue.
Very often the successful completion of a prank is marked by the prankster’s celebration with this shade of laughter.
“Strange things can happen!” Laughter
This shade of laughter adorns a husband who realises that he forgot his wife’s birthday and tries to compensate with an expensive gift.
“I know I’m beautiful” Laughter
A beautiful young woman sometimes laughs to acknowledge the adulation to her beauty and also to add an element of style. (Here I would like to make clear that I believe that beauty is a very subjective and relative concept and every individual has a right to feel beautiful about himself /herself. )
Life is filled with numerous hues of various emotions. I am sure there are many more shades of laughter that I have not outlined. We all love to laugh but I also enjoy watching people laugh, observing the shades of laughter and connecting to the reasons for their laughter.