Why Laughter— Even the ‘Weary, Ironic Kind’ — Can Help Right Now

Writer Leslie Gray Streeter on not always taking this serious time so seriously

Katie Couric
May 1, 2020 · 4 min read

Today, for my Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!), writer Leslie Gray Streeter reflects on how laughter helped her grapple with the grief surrounding her young husband’s sudden death — and how it might help us all get through the pandemic.

I think we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing funny about a global pandemic. Frightening, deadly and world-shattering? Yes. Side-splitting? Only if we’re talking about ulcers.

Still, as humans, all of our natural defense mechanisms come into play in a time of stress, and Lord knows we’re in one. So it makes sense that along with panic, weeping, and compulsive 3 a.m. cake binges, our psyches would cling to any expression of relief, including laughter — even the weary, desperate, ironic kind. And finding the funny in a crisis isn’t just a defense mechanism; it’s a healthy choice. In “Humor Matters,” Dr. Steven Sultanoff of Pepperdine University tells us that “humor is one of the healthiest and most powerful methods to help provide perspective on life’s difficult experiences, and it is frequently shared during periods of crisis.” See? We have to find a way to keep our sense of humor through all of this. Doctor’s orders!

But how do we access that humor during the most serious health crisis most of us have ever experienced without seeming at best, insensitive, and at worst, sadistic? Glad you asked.

1. Realize that laughing through pain is different from laughing at it:

2. If ever there was a time for sharing stupid memes, it’s now:

3. There’s something sneakily funny in our binge-watching:

4. Sometimes our most basic impulses are funny and we should go with it:

5. Give yourself a freaking break:

This appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.

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Katie Couric

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Founder, Katie Couric Media. Newscaster: Wake-Up Call. Podcaster: Next Question. Doc filmmaker. @SU2C founder.

Wake-Up Call

Katie Couric and friends talk career, culture, politics, wellness, love, and money

Katie Couric

Written by

Founder, Katie Couric Media. Newscaster: Wake-Up Call. Podcaster: Next Question. Doc filmmaker. @SU2C founder.

Wake-Up Call

Katie Couric and friends talk career, culture, politics, wellness, love, and money

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