Laughter Has Been Hacked

Atlanta1FIxLaughter has been effectively hacked and people can now essentially laugh anytime they want, most just don’t know it. The strange proof is that laughing contests such as this Saturday’s 2014 American Laughing Championships in Atlanta could not exist otherwise.

At the event, a live audience will watch as a dozen challengers compete in a series of laughs including The Diabolical Laugh, The Alabama Kneeslapper and a new category, Sexiest Laugh in America. What is strange perhaps is that competitors will laugh without jokes, humour or looking at anything funny. How is that possible?

“It’s actually pretty amazing when you think about it,” said current American Laughing Champion, Chicago Native, Julie Ostrow. “That for 90 minutes everyone will be laughing, audience and competitor alike without a single joke being told.”

All competitive laughers use a technique where they trigger authentic laughter by laughing. Otherwise the 90 minute show of people pretending to laugh would likely be unbearable. The contest then becomes funny because everyone is laughing.

The Championships are in their second year and are part of an international trend that started in Montreal, Canada in 2011.

The hack for laughter likely occurred back in March of 1995, when Indian Doctor, Madan Kataria, uncovered new research that regular laughter improved human health. He attempted to form a laughter club where people simply sat around and laughed.

After a first meeting which went badly, Kataria happened on breakthrough. Kataria had observed that making the sounds of laughter will often trigger contagious laugher.

Instead of telling jokes, Kataria suggested the group “act like they’re laughing.”

When he attempted this with a half dozen friends it turned out to work. The group laughed for an hour straight.

That marked the birth of Laughter Yoga which is now a fast-growing international health trend. Kataria’s story is featured in the Disinfo distributed documentary Laughology.

But now there’s an even simpler hack for laughter and anyone can do it.

The Hack for Laughter


Photo: George Wakeling

You need a small group of people sitting close to each other while making eye contact. It helps if the people are somewhat positively disposed towards each other. 

They simply need to exhale on the sound “ha ha ha ha” with some vigour while maintaining eye contact. The key ingredients are friendly group, sitting  a little too close each other, while making eye contact. The group will almost always burst into laughter.

This same technique is applied in competitive laughter, where the audience acts as the group. Performers make eye contact with the audience. They then trigger themselves to laugh with some of the primal sounds for laughter. The audience usually laughs and a laughter feedback loop is created.

The most contagious laughers go on to increasingly tough challenges such as laughter duels and complex laughs like the Mutliplex Guffaw all the while using the same simple trick.

The winner becomes the next American Laughing Champion.


Because laughter has been shown to a powerful system enhancer and natural anti depressant. And you’ll likely never laugh as much in a 90 minute stretch than at a laughing contest. And unlike, many other treatments, laughter is free and universally accessible. So hacking it, means, the more the merrier, literally.

The American Laughing Championships, The Capitol Park Hotel Ballroom, Atlanta

9 pm Saturday May 17th.

7 Comments on "Laughter Has Been Hacked"

  1. Thank you to our Live Studio Audience™! This really has been a blast.®

  2. Echar Lailoken | May 14, 2014 at 12:17 am |

    The mouth of the woman in the first pic is freaking me out.

    • lol

      now that you mention it…she’s either about to have something crawl out of her throat, or she’s unhinging her jaw to devour you, snake-style.

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