Humor is a virtue

LAUGHS Jokes are no medicine, but they are medicinal.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Well, they’re wrong  —medicine is the best medicine. If you broke your leg in three different places and the bone is sticking out of your skin, an Abbot and Costello routine probably wouldn’t help much.

However, there are numerous medical benefits to the use of humor in everyday life including physical benefits, psychological benefits and social benefits.

Laughter is capable of reducing stress, increasing immune system strength and vastly improving a person’s overall mental health.

Think of your favorite professor. Chances are he or she probably throws in a joke or two during lecture. In addition to finding out how many people are actually paying attention, it can help the professor clarify some of his points and positively affect the mood of the entire room.

So many students get their news from Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert because the humor they use often makes their positions easier to understand. So often, in major news sources, opinions are expressed through personal attacks and misrepresentations. The use of humor can actually help people think about something in a different way.

This is also why so many comedians are thought of as highly as they are. Between the punchlines and goofy voices, you can often find some very interesting and unique perspectives.

In social situations, humor is useful as a method of meeting new people as well as establishing and maintaining friendships. Sometimes, a joke by itself can be the start of a wonderful friendship.

Still, there is a danger to overusing humor. You might end up with a reputation as someone who never takes things seriously, or as the one guy who always tells bad jokes.

Also, jokes at someone’s expense carry their own danger, as they can alienate you from certain social groups, depending on who you are making fun of. And there is the potential for damaging someone’s mental well being if jokes at their expense are unwanted or excessive.

The best way to counter these dangers is to be able to laugh at yourself. One of the reasons roasts are so popular is not necessarily the idea of tearing other people down, but the concept of being able to laugh at yourself.

I happen to be 5’1”, Indian, and 110 pounds. If I wasn’t able to laugh at myself, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.

Since I was born in India, I have heard pretty much every Indian joke there is, from being called Apu from “The Simpsons,” to the ever popular “You must love curry right?” and the numerous call center jokes.

I actually allow a great deal of these jokes and more, as long as I know that they are coming from a genuine place of friendship, and not just a mean-spirited jibe. Having been around these types of jokes as long as I have, it is very easy for me to tell the difference.

An example of one of the slightly more offensive running jokes that my friends and I share is when Osama Bin Laden was killed, a close friend of mine texted me and said, “I’m sorry about your uncle.”

What is funny about these particular brand of jokes, is that India is nowhere near the Middle East, which means for me to be associated with anything similar to that displays excessive willful ignorance, which is always fun to laugh at.

However, not everyone thinks the same things are funny. And there is nothing wrong with that. There are many different types of humor and each of them has their place. Some people prefer subtle comedy and more intellectual punchlines, whereas others prefer slapstick comedy.

Oftentimes, when you hear somebody say, “You don’t have a sense of humor,” what they really mean is that you don’t have their sense of humor.

The truth is, as many wonderful things as there are in the world, from waterfalls to rainbows, there are just as many terrible things, from war to poverty to Lil Wayne.

Humor is not a cure-all pill, but it is a great first step in any healing process or journey to self improvement.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at