Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

The Relationship Between Laughter And Longevity And The Comedians Who Prove It


Lately I’ve been thinking that I should have been a comedian. Yes, you read that right. A comedian. Not because I am particularly funny, or because I enjoy speaking in front of a crowd.

laughter comedy

The subject of wellness has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve been searching for ways for all of us to find more light in case any dark clouds loom our way.  There are many reasons why it’s important to welcome joy and laughter into our lives, but here’s one more:

Laughing might add a few more years to our lives.

In my search for wellness I suddenly realized that laughter might be a key to longevity.  Many of our greatest comedians have lived long and happy lives.

We recently saw Bob Newhart perform his one-man show, and he was as lively and funny as he was in his heyday during “The Bob Newhart Show” and his widely acclaimed 1960’s albums, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.”

Publicity photo of the cast of The Bob Newhart...

Publicity photo of the cast of The Bob Newhart Show. Standing from left: Bill Daily (Howard Borden), Marcia Wallace, (Carol Kester), Peter Bonerz (Jerry Robinson). Seated: from left: Bob Newhart (Bob Hartley), Suzanne Pleshette (Emily Hartley). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At age 84, Bob Newhart is as bright and clever as ever; his sense of timing is still impeccable, and his dry wit and stammering delivery continue to make audiences laugh. Taking great pleasure from the love he felt from our laughter, he stood grinning from ear to ear while we stood to applaud his performance.

On the car ride home, my husband and I verbally listed comedians in their eighties and nineties who are still entertaining us, and those who, like Bob Hope and George Burns, gave us a century of laughter.

Is being a comedian the road to longevity?

Consider, if you will, this extraordinary list of people who, over the years, have brought laughter into our lives:

  •  Don Rickles (88)
  • Mel Brooks (88)
  • Carl Reiner (92)
  • Neil Simon (87)
  • Dick Van Dyke (88)
  • Shecky Greene (88)
  • Jerry Lewis (88)
  • Mort Sahl (86)
  • Jerry Stiller (87)
  • Betty White (92)
  • Abe Vigoda (93)
  • Carol Channing (93)
  • Elaine Stritch (93)
  • Cloris Leachman (88)
  • Doris Roberts (88)
  • Carol Burnett (81)

And those who left us:

  • Bob Hope (100)
  • George Burns (100)
  • Sid Caesar (92)
  • Milton Berle (92)

After the recent death of legendary comedian Sid Caesar, TIME Magazine considered the relationship between comedy and longevity in their article, “Why Do Comedians Live So Long?” They came to the conclusion that the great comedians who worked in front of live audiences had to keep their minds and bodies constantly toned, with less focus on stardom, and less available drugs.

Publicity photo of Sid Caesar from his televis...

Publicity photo of Sid Caesar from his television program Caesar’s Hour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The laughter they received from the audience was instant gratification. That does a funny heart good.

I wanted to find some scientific proof on the relationship between laughter and longevity. My research lead me to a recent study done by Dr. Sven Svebak of the Medical School at Norwegian University of Science and Technology who tracked 54,000 Norwegians. He found that those who found life the funniest were the ones who were more likely to live longer than those who didn’t.

Here are 3 easy ways to add instant laughter to your life:

Laughter yoga – Being with a group of like-minded people, who are laughing for better health, less stress and anxiety, may be a key toward wellness. Click here to find a class near you.

Laughter clubs – These are popping up all around the country. In the ABC News article, “People in ‘Laughter Groups” Giggle and Guffaw for Better Health” Dr. Michael Miller of The University of Maryland said that, “laughing opens up your arteries, allowing blood to flow more freely.” He and his researchers said a few hearty laughs were as good for you as jogging up to half an hour. Click here to find a laughter club near you.

Comedy shows –  There are comedy shows everywhere, from local restaurants to regional theaters to Broadway. Give yourself the gift of laughter and go see a show! It’s a guaranteed good time.

To all of the comedians who have given us hours of fun and laughter, I say a sincere thank you.  You have given us a great gift, one that might add years to our lives.  That’s the best wellness program of all.

Where do you find laughter in your life?

30 thoughts on “The Relationship Between Laughter And Longevity And The Comedians Who Prove It

  1. kim tackett

    Agreed! I also think laughing is very romantic…and healing. Come to think of it, I could use a good belly laugh. I haven’t had the kind that make my insides hurt in a long time!!

  2. Helene Bludman

    Yes! And as I think you and I have discussed before, Cathy, comedians statistically have more successful and long-lasting marriages. In other words, their divorce rate is much lower than the norm. Makes sense to me — laughter often does cure all! I have to remember to read your post when I get down in the dumps.

    1. Post author

      Yes, I guess we must laugh a lot with our husbands (knocking on wood…) because we, like the comedians, are following suit Helene! Here’s to many more years of laughter together as friends, my dear.

  3. Kathy @ SMART Living

    Hi Cathy! Yes laughter and a light heart are incredible ways to not only improve our health but our entire life. I’ve read that if we think of our cells a individual living beings and then monitor how they are feeling–do we have happy cells or sad cells–that helps remind us when we are in tune with all that. Dr. Norman Cousins pioneered the field when he did studies showing that people who watched comedy shows on TV boosted their immune systems. That’s one reason why my DH and I NEVER watch the news and try and stay away from too much violence on the TV or in movies. Your cells are MUCH happier watching comedy and something lighthearted. Thank you for reminding me today! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…Simple Living–A Cure For FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)My Profile

    1. Post author

      I try to stay away from the news after reading Dr. Andrew Weil years ago, Kathy, when he prescribed it for reducing stress and anxiety. Thanks for letting me know about Dr. Norman Cousins. I’ll have to read more about that.

  4. Haralee

    What an interesting perspective. You have to laugh at life to get through some difficult situations and then it diminishes the impact if you tell friends looking for the laugh!

  5. Ruth Curran

    I love everything about this post! Every laugh, every smile, every happy thought, every bit of joy promotes well being, peace, and quality of life. Nourishes us mind, body, and soul doesn’t it? So maybe we all can’t be comedians but we can release those same chemicals by bringing and sharing joy! How is that for a spin :)???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge