Laughing Is Now A Competitive Sport

Could laughing be a competitive sport?

“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



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10 Comments on "Laughing Is Now A Competitive Sport"

  1. Matt Staggs | Feb 13, 2013 at 10:45 am |

    “Punching people in the face is a competitive sport” is a reductive and incorrect statement regarding the skill and variety of technique (and body contact) in various martial arts. It’s a handy-dandy way to make competitive laughing look morally superior, though. Whether that’s truly the case is up for debate, I guess. Could be a complicated topic.

    • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 11:20 am |

      Pfft! Those guys train awfully hard just to “punch people in the face”; training and discipline which definitely make it a true sport. Laughing as a sport? Please….. I consider myself incredibly open minded, and generally gravitate towards the ‘left’, but this is just plain ridiculous! Some of these new age hokey ideas are really something else! How these people take themselves seriously I’ll never know. 😛

      • There is a good side to this silly information : competition means performance-enhancing drugs.

        It goes well with the legalisation of pot.

        • LucidDreamR | Feb 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

          haha! As a medical marijuana patient myself, I’m rather disappointed that I had not thought of this. 😉 One of the very strains I grow is called “Laughing Buddha”, definitely would be considered a performance enhancing drug in this case!

    • Hi Matt, Not trying to win a moral superiority contest here, although competitive morality might be entertaining, probably not. I do think the discovery of laughter led to the greatest revolution on Earth in that it allow humans to play rather than fight. I myself study Kung Fu and would say that martial arts possess unrivalled sophistication due to their long history. I just believe that the violent side of human confrontation has been done to death. And the more positive sides have never really been explored. So why not?

      • Matt Staggs | Feb 14, 2013 at 11:17 am |

        My major point of contention was with the statement “punching people in the face is a competitive sport”. I don’t disagree with anything else you’re saying here.

  2. QuietPerson | Feb 13, 2013 at 11:39 am |

    Is there nothing over which humans won’t compete? It’s like that’s all we know how to do with life–turn it into a game with points so that one or a group of us gets to be told we’re “better” at it than others until the Next Big Star comes along. I’ll grant that, if we’re going to compete over something, there are a lot worse things than laughter over which to compete, but still I wonder sometimes if we’re losing our ability just to do things for the sheer joy of doing them rather than because it increases a score or standing in some competition.

  3. lazy_friend | Feb 14, 2013 at 3:13 am |

    If they were laughing in the face of danger it would be a sport. Add a bull to the occasion and a closed ring.

  4. Hadrian999 | Feb 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

    lets keep lowering the bar shall we,

Comments are closed.