Thursday, September 3, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Posted by Bruce Miller
Richmond is looking pretty good the past couple days.

Yesterday, we did NOT make it onto’s list of the 40 Most Stressful Cities in America. Northern Virginia did (as part of Metro DC), and so did Virginia Beach. What’s with that? Stressed out at the beach?

Today, our fair city DID make it into the BOTTOM ten on’s list of American Cities and Their Addiction to Fast Foods. With a grade of A-, Richmond was the 7th LEAST addicted city in the nation, sandwiched between the respectable eaters in Bangor, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island. Once again, Norfolk scored only a B+ and NoVA a B-.

I’ve always felt particularly competitive with Charlotte, N. C.—all that banking brouhaha. So I took shameless pleasure in learning that Charlottonians are not only among the most stressed out citizens in America, they also rate third from the top in per capita consumption of fast food, earning a grade of F.

As any curmudgeon can tell you, there’s got to be some sort of correlation between reliance on fast food and stress. So what’s Richmond’s secret that keeps us calm and well nourished?

It’s got to be our theatres. Central Virginians love their theatres, and Richmond’s theatres love their comedies.

Stress relief from laughter? Seriously, it’s no joke.

According to a recent study from the Mayo Clinic, laughter is powerful stress-relief medicine. When you laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.

“Laughter can stimulate your organs,” state the fine doctors at the Mayo Clinic, and honestly, who doesn’t enjoy stimulating their organs every now and then. “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.”

And the positive effects of a few chuckles and the occasional belly laugh don’t stop there. “A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.”

“Laughter can also ease digestion and stimulate circulation,” which helps “soothe tension and stomach aches.”

And the health benefits of a rousing comedy aren’t just short term. Laughter has been proven to improve your immune system, relieve pain, and increase personal satisfaction over the long haul.

So, wanna keep Richmond as a low-stress winner? Then make an appointment today with the good doctors at Hagadorn, Guadalupe, and Bass. Here are the upcoming comedies you won’t want to miss:

The Mystery of Irma Vep, opening Sept 17 at the Mill. “A werewolf, a vampire and a resurrected Egyptian princess come together with the denizens of Mandacrest Manor for the ultimate spoof of Gothic melodramas. Starring John Hagadorn and David Janeski.

Boleros for the Disenchanted, opening Sept 18 at Barksdale Willow Lawn. There’s a lot of robust humor in this new poetic masterpiece by Jose Rivera. Starring Bernardo Cubria, Patricia Doran, Michelle Guadalupe, Jorge Rubio, Luis Vega and Carmen Zilles.

Souvenir, opening Sept 25 at Barksdale Hanover Tavern. Debra Wagoner and Jonathan Spivey star as the legendary Florence Foster Jenkins and her intrepid accompanist, Cosme McMoon, in this true story of a tone-deaf New York society matron whose foghorn croonings became the toast of Carnegie Hall. Directed by John Glenn and co-produced with Company of Fools.

The Ugly Duckling, opening Oct 2 at Theatre IV’s Empire Theatre. Why should we adults be the only ones to enjoy stress-reduction? Treat your kids to this fun and frolicking musical about finding self-esteem through having and being a friend. Starring Gordon Bass, Eric Pastore, Ali Thibodeau, Duron Tyre and Aly Wepplo.

The New Century, opening the Triangle Players season on Oct 7. The New York Post exclaimed that “the evening contains so many gut-busting one-liners that those with heart conditions are advised to steer clear.” Starring Jackie Jones and Michael Hawke.

Hope to hear you laughing at the theatre!

--Bruce Miller


philcrosbby said...

Bruce --

Let's not forget Paul Rudnick's The New Century with Jackie Jones, Michael Hawke and Annie Zannetti. among others!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blogs!!
Jeanette Blaylock