Funny Facts About Laughing That Are Sure to Make You Smile

You’ll get a chuckle from this trivia about one of our most ancient forms of expression and communication.

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Baby boy laughing
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Humans laughed before they spoke

Some scientists believe that laughter was used as a way for humans to relate to one another millions of years before they developed the lung strength for language. The mechanism of laughter is so ingrained in our brains that babies as young as 17 days old have been observed doing it. In fact, children born blind and deaf still have the ability to laugh.

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Couple laughing together
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Laughter is actually rarely tied to humour

In his book, Laughing: A Scientific Investigation, Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, describes an intriguing study about laughter—and it didn’t take place at a comedy club. Provine and some graduate students listened in on normal conversations at local malls. They found that out of 1,200 “laugh episodes,” only about 10 per cent were generated by a joke. “Laughter really has a bonding function between individuals in a group,” says Provine.

Speaking of bonding, these jokes about marriage are perfect for a wedding!

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A pair of squirrel monkeys
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Rats and monkeys laugh

It may sound strange, but several scientists have elicited “tickle-induced vocalizations” from primates. Penny Patterson, president of the Gorilla Foundation says that Koko, the gorilla famous for her sign language abilities, even had a special “ho, ho,” for visitors she liked. And rats apparently have very ticklish necks. When Bowling Green State University scientist Jaak Panksepp and his graduate students tickled baby rats’ napes, the rodents emitted high-frequency chirps that Panksepp interpreted as laughter.

Surprise—you’ve got these animal “facts” all wrong.

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Couple having lunch
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Couples who laugh together, stay together

Robert Levinson, psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley, invited couples into his lab and asked each partner to discuss something that irritated him or her about the other partner. The couples who tackled the stressful situation with laughter not only felt better in the moment, but had higher levels of relationship satisfaction and stayed together longer than couples who didn’t crack a smile.

Here’s what you should tell you spouse every day for a happier marriage.

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Two friends laughing at restaurant
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Laughter controls our brains

When you see people laughing, you just can’t help but smile, right? That’s because your brain makes it nearly impossible not it. This fact about laughing is the result of research from the lab of Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London. When she monitored subjects’ brains while she played laughing sounds, she found that the premotor cortical region of the brain, which prepares the muscles in the face to move, was activated.

Need a good laugh? Check out the best Reader’s Digest jokes of all time.

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Siblings laughing
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Laughing burns more calories than you may think

This funny fact about laughing is no joke! Just 10 to 15 minutes of laughing a day can burn up to 40 calories, according to a Vanderbilt University study. Researchers determined that the increase in heart rate and oxygen consumption during these funny moments boosted the burn.

Discover 50 more ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.

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Microphone at comedy club
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Nashville is a really funny place

At 8:04 p.m. on April 15, 2015, a crew of comedians put Nashville in the record books. Funny folks including Hannibal Buress, Rory Shovel, and Ahmed Ahmed riffed on stage to help set a new record for the longest continuous stand-up comedy show by multiple comedians: 208 hours, 16 minutes.

Looking for some homegrown humour? Check out 50 up-and-coming Canadian comedians—and their best jokes!

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Couple laughing while drinking coffee
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Laughter really is the best medicine

Study after study has pointed to the health benefits of laughter: Research from Loma Linda University showed that laughing improved the memory of adults in their 60s and 70s; University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found that hilarious movies improved the function of blood vessels and increased blood flow in a group of 20 thirty-somethings. And other research has shown that laughing can improve immunity, help regulate blood sugar levels, and improve sleep.

Want to hone your talent for humour? Check out these pro tips on how to be funny.

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Mother and young daughter laughing and playing
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Your sense of humour might be genetic

In a Northwestern University study of more than 300 people, those with the short version, or allele, of gene 5-HTTLPR are quicker to laugh at cartoons or funny movie clips than those with the long version of the gene. That particular gene has long been associated with the study of depression, but this is the first study to look at its connection to positive emotions. “People with short alleles may flourish in a positive environment and suffer in a negative one,” said study co-auothor Claudia M. Haase. “While people with long alleles are less sensitive to environmental conditions.”

Now that you’ve learned these funny facts about laughing, find out the fascinating origins of some of your favourite jokes.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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