“Punching people in the face is a competitive sport,” says Laughologist Albert Nerenberg, “so why not?” This April, Nerenberg, hosts the first ever American Laughing Championships at the San Diego Westin Ballroom.
Once unthinkable, Laughter competitions have become a bizarre but entertaining international trend, with championships taking place in Japan, France, Canada, the UK, and Austria. The American contest stands to be the largest yet paired with the national conference of the Association for Therapeutic Humor, (AATH) April 6th. Some of the nation’s most contagious laughers are expected.
Nerenberg is director of the disinformation documentary Laughology, which reveals the contagiousness of laughter, and how new laughter techniques such as Laughter Yoga and Laughtercize can be taken further.
Laughter contests are basically positive emotion competitions, an idea whose time has come says competitive laugher Joey Lundgreen:
“Instead of competing to be the meanest, toughest SOB who ever lived” says Lundgreen. “Why not compete to be the sunniest, funniest, most contagious person ever?”
Nerenberg says he actually got the idea for laughter competitions while watching a bloody Ultimate Fighting Championship bout. Before the fight the two fighters cracked up during the stare down.
“I thought right there you see two sides of human confrontation. When two people stare intently at each other it either produces hostility or laughter,” said Nerenberg. “We have fighting championships so why not have a laughing championship?”
In laughter championships, the best laughers in the nation face off in a series of contests in last man standing format. The winner is crowned Best Laugher in America. Laughers are judged on the contagiousness of their laughs and their ability to trigger a live audience into laughter.
“Winning this means you’ve demonstrated a great ability to bring joy to others,” says Nerenberg. “That’s a real and meaningful talent.”
Laughter challenges include the popular Alabama Kneeslapper, the Maniacal Laugh a la Doctor Evil, and the Ricochet Multiplex Guffaw, a complex laugh where the competitor must allow a single laugh to turn into many.
“It takes skill, discipline and stamina,” says Nerenberg. “Not to mention not taking yourself too seriously.
Gabrielle Rivera, a 25 year old Puerto Rican model based in San Luis Obispo is a favored contender for ALC. Rivera won the California Ultimate Laughing Championships held at the historic Freemont Theatre by laughing at herself. “Laughter is freedom,” she said in her victory speech.
Nerenberg says he think that competitive laughter could be huge someday. “It’s athletic, it’s hilarious and it makes the audience happy,” he said.
If you think have it what it takes to compete in The American Laughing Championships, Send an e-mail to Hey@Laughology.info
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