Beep, beep, beep, Jane’s cranky alarm seems to scream louder with each iteration. Arrrggghhh!! Another uncertain day Jane slithers out of bed, half tired from bartending last night, searching frantically for hot coffee. With bloodshot eyes she checks her phone, email, facebook, and instagram simultaneously to see if, by some miracle, her elusive agent called and said, “you’ve got the part!” No such luck today. To make matters worst, God’s gift to the world, Sandra F. just posted, “Booked It! Off to San Francisco this week!” Looks like today just went from uncertain to bad. There has to be another way!
The events of the mornings have a tendency to shape the whole day. When runners sprint in track and field, they really need to have successful starts to each race. If they false start, they are disqualified; if they slow start they lose the race. Consistent great starts are imperative. As actors we can craft a morning that enlivens us and helps create those consistently successful starts to our days. Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up excited for the day? To have you body feel invigorated laughter.
Yes, you can attend actual classes for “Humor Therapy,” but you can also practice laughing by yourself, or with your roommate at home. Laughter provides many benefits specifically for actors and artists. One very surprising study from Loma Linda University documented the effects of humor and short term memory. The participants learning ability increased 14.5% and their delayed recall improved 23.3%. This study was done for an older population but it's safe to use those results to point creative talent in the right direction. As actors we must memorize a lot of scripts and sides for auditions, why not use the modality of laughter to increase our ability to do so effectively?
Laughter provides beauty benefits because blood rushes to the face and helps maintain that vibrant youthful glow. As we age our skin sags and our muscles aren’t as perky as they used to be. Think of laughter as a fun facial workout, where we exercise the zygomaticus major muscles which assist in smiling and lifting the corners of the mouth. An actor who laughs often is confidently ready for those close-ups.The next benefit of laughing is that you work out your diaphragm muscles. A strong diaphragm will help you control your voice, inflections, and pitch better for those long 12 hour days on set. Your voice becomes more resonant and people would love to hear the sound of your voice more, who knows. You may get some voice over work because of it!
But going back to our morning routine, laughter scientifically improves mood, it produces the natural painkillers, endorphins. The actor need to be in the tip top mental shape to deal with rejection and constant challenges, and laughter reduces the stress hormones in the body, and consequently the mind starts to perceive problems as smaller. That “huge” audition this afternoon? You can handle it! Big meeting with the famous foreign director? Infuse laughter into your morning and get the calmness of mind to remember that you are just as worthy and important.
When we laugh we feel a million times better, why reserve this therapy for after a long day at work, or at a comedy club 10pm Saturday night? Laugh each morning! Set your timer for 3 minutes, look at the mirror if you want, and start laughing. Slap your knee if you have to, hold your belly. You can morning laugh with a friend or spouse to amplify this funny process. After awhile, you’ll realize your fake laughter will subside, and real laughter will emerge. You will realize your life is not a tragedy, but an exciting adventure and let the benefits role in. Have a happy morning!