Laughter has many forms like grinning, smiling, laughing and guffawing! Whilst the first two types exercise the muscles of the lips and a tiny portion of the jaws, a guffawing laughter exercises the whole body. It literally activates all your muscles. Knowledgeable circles advocate hearty laughter to keep in the best of health. As a result, laughing clubs have sprouted in posh localities. Also, magazines regularly run sections like ‘laughter is the best medicine’, ‘grin and bear it’, ‘humour in uniform’ to make living more relaxed.
King Arthur had his court jesters and Akbar had his Birbal.
Court jesters were an integral part and parcel of the King’s inner circle occupying a position of considerable importance because, as and when the need arose, they were duty bound to rise to the occasion and lighten the atmosphere by narrating interesting and appropriate anecdotes. The concept of the King is not there any longer but that of a comedian remains in every ruling party’s cabinet. Long ago we had a gentleman who used to sport a green turban! Later we had someone who was forever putting his foot in his mouth. Last reports reveal that he is pursuing some studies and has apparently taken sanyas from politics! Today, we have another gentleman who exhibits a fantastic growth of hair on his ears!
Let us now come to the cinema. In the fifties, there were great comedians like the one and only Charlie Chaplin and the duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They used to make the audience roll with laughter without laughing themselves. Superb examples of slap stick comedy! That was the secret.
They were great artists because they could generate sidesplitting laughter by a mere change of expression. In the Indian scenario we had unparalled comedians like Chandrababu, Nagesh, Suruli Rajan, Thengaai Sreenivasan and M R Radha. When the situation demanded, regular actors like Sivaji Ganesan, Rajini Kanth, Kamal Hassan played the roles of comedians.