Why Do We Laugh?

This piece is my personal response to the movie Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni.  

It’s currently 4:18 p.m. in BC – 5:18 p.m. in Calgary – and as I gaze out the car window, I see mountains enveloped eerily by fog, covered in splotches of green, orange, yellow and red that take the shape of trees. I find that I’m only able to reflect upon one thing and every time I try to think of something else, I return to that same thought just as waves always return to the shore.

When my family was out gallivanting the streets of Kelowna, I burst out into laughter. I don’t remember what I was laughing at or where I was standing or what I was wearing. I only remember one thing and that is this: my ten year old niece peered deep into my eyes, smiled, and said quite frankly, “You’re always laughing. I like it.” And since then, I’ve been pondering on the idea of laughter, but all I can do is ask myself: “Why do we laugh?”

It’s taken me endless hours, countless days to simply swallow that question, so forgive me if the power of my question is lost in its answer.

Laughter. It’s an explosion of exhilaration that bubbles over from within one’s soul so that it’s visible to others. It’s a language that is spoken by all people – young and old, 81fd6c4ac886076555d06de6e1e5d60ehumane and inhumane. It’s a weapon used not for destruction, but for restoration and rejuvenation. It’s a force which binds one’s broken pieces together – a force which prevents one from falling apart. A means of thriving, rather than simply surviving, in the darkest of places and the brightest of places too. A strategy that can be utilized in order to win the wars with which we are faced in this life.

Laughter is a way of coping with the potholes and sharp turns on the road that we call life, but it’s also a way to express the joy of driving on a smooth, straight road. It’s a form of therapy, a type of medicine which works anywhere, anytime. An instrument which, when played, is able to make the weary and heavy-burdened lose their bodies to its infectious rhythm. A sort of sunshine which fits facilely into the pockets of ones lips – a sunshine which one can carry to any corner of the world. An art which can be mastered without any effort or any cost. An act of rebellion in the face of death, for laughter brings with it life wherever it goes.

But most importantly, laughter is what makes life beautiful. And that’s why we laugh… Because life truly is wonderfully and miraculously beautiful, even if it stands face to face with the Angel of Death.


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4 thoughts on “Why Do We Laugh?

  1. Dearest Vanessa,
    Let me start this off with one thing. I LOVE IT WHEN YOU LAUGH. It gives me this strange feeling of happiness of being in class, and makes my day all the more brighter. So, as strange as it may seem, I want to thank you for laughing, because even if it means little to you, it literally makes my entire day brighter. Now, onto the piece. HONESTLY. ONE. OF. THE. MOST. GENUINE. PIECES. I. HAVE. EVER. FELT. IN. MY. LIFE. A true work of art. The transitions from the beginning, where you had started laughing for no reason (Teach me how!), to the single, crucial question that your niece asked you. When you began giving the answer to the question, I felt as if I was diving right into the soul of your writing, into your feeling as you were writing this. And let me tell you, it was a great feeling.

    The metaphor in this piece captivated me, to the point where I even paused to reflect on all the previous uses of metaphors. The usage of metaphor gave me a very strong idea as to how you may view laughter. In turn, as I was reading this, I felt as if you were speaking to me directly, and in my mind I was hearing your voice.

    Your style of writing really seems to intrigue me. As Ms. Hunnisett has mentioned on more than one occasion, you are incredibly efficient with your words. I’m in shock as to how you were able to do that with this piece. I felt as if I read so much, as if I had just read an entire philosophy on laughter, when I realized in essence just how much I had actually read. In my opinion, it is amazing how you are able to do that. The effects of your literature are still going through the readers head, when they reach the ending (at least that’s what happened to me). When I processed all of it, I could not even think of what I just read. My mind went into some sort of weird function.

    Vanessa, you are truly an incredibly gifted writer. Your prowess in reading, analyzing, and writing seem to be at quite a high level, at a place where I don’t think I can begin to think of reaching. I would love to be able to learn from you this semester, because I’m lucky enough to have you, Sania, and Areeb in my family group. In my opinion, you seem as a sort of older sister whom I can look up to, and look as a role model. I thank you for that. I want to thank you for being encouraging, kind-hearted, being a leader, as well as being a source of happiness for me.

    Thanks for being amazing.

    With Love,

    1. Dearest Rehman,

      You have no idea how much your words mean to me. Thank you a million times over. I’m happily humbled that my laughter has the power to make your day brighter and that you see me as an older sister (I’ve always wanted a brother) – that honestly means the world to me! I would like to thank you for pushing me to keep writing and for encouraging me with your kind words.

      But honestly speaking, I feel that you aren’t doing yourself any justice. I would offer that your thinking is already at an extremely high level which is why you’re in AP English in the first place! I have learnt so much from you this semester already… I don’t think it’s fair for you to say that my thinking is at a higher level than yours. You are a brilliant thinker and an even more brilliant writer, so don’t ever allow yourself to think otherwise. I thank you for being someone that I can look up to as well and I thank you for your humbling words. You’re a source of happiness for me as well and I, too, am fortunate to have you in my family group.

      Love always,


  2. Dear Vanessa,

    Every time I read your writing, I am in awe of the absolute beauty of your voice. Every single time. There is a such a purity in your being, and it is displayed fully through every single word you bless all of us with. Mrs. Hunnisett has said this countless times, but there is such a beautiful, poetic quality to your writing, one that is very hard to replicate, and it is so easy for me to fall in to an infinite pit of love and joy and purity when I read your pieces.

    I believe we wrote about very similar topics this time (a fact I am honoured and humbled to state), in which we both discussed elements of humanity that, through times of bleakness and hopelessness, prevailed in reminding us of happier times. A kiss and laughter are similar in many ways, I’d like to think – we bless others with them, we ourselves are bestowed with these things from those around us, and they, ultimately, thrive on hope and love.

    I would like to thank you for this chance to compare writing of my own to yours, a piece of work I hold with extremely high regard. Thank you for your laughter and your joy, and thank you for this beautiful piece.

    With love,

    1. Dearest Claire,

      Thank you so, so much! It is a blessing to know that my voice is able to bring you into that place of joy and love and purity – a place that I value with all my heart.

      I agree with every word you have said about the similarities between kisses in laughter… Both are so potent and life-giving in all that they are. I, too, was able to see parallels in our pieces and that makes me overjoyed. Yours is a voice which carries with it a lightness, a breeziness and it flows as smoothly as a river. It is a voice which is uplifting and to know that we wrote pieces along the same lines is so incredible.

      I am so very blessed to have a writer as lovely as you compliment my piece. Thank you once again.

      Yours with love,


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