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Still Funny: Why Do We Laugh?

Melody A

Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself? In this episode, originally from 2018, we learn about how humor develops with Gina Mireault of the Infant Laughter Project at Northern Vermont University. Plus: April Fools traditions and we listen to jokes sent in by kids with Vermont comedian Josie Leavitt.


"Laughter as it turns out, is a really lovely way to be together," said Gina Mireault. "It seems that laughter is more about being with other people than it is about being funny."

It turns out people are a lot less likely to laugh when they are by themselves, even if they're reading something funny or watching something funny on TV. Mireault said that's true about smiling too. People are much more likely to smile when others are around.

"That tells us something. It tells us that laughter is a way of sharing something, of being with people that feels really good." It's also part of the way we play, especially when we're younger.

"When we play, we're much more likely to be laughing and smiling and we're much more likely to be doing that with others," Mireault said.

"Smiling and laughing really seem to be a way to say to each other, 'I like you; I trust you; I enjoy being with you; you make me happy.' And that's good for all of us. Being together is how people were designed. We were designed to be together, not to be alone."  

Read the full transcript

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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