Now that the pandemic is coming to an end, it is time to shake off the negativity and smile! There is an old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” and we happen to think this is true. Humor and laughter are an important part of our mental wellbeing as well as helping us to make friends and understand culture.
Did you know that April is National Humor Month? Many people are unaware that April is dedicated to celebrating humor and its role in our general state of health. National Humor Month is not a new thing. In fact, it was first celebrated in 1976 and was started by a man named Larry Wilde. In this blog we will look at the health benefits of humor (and laughter), New York comedy clubs, and finally telling jokes in English.
These days it is well known and accepted that humor, and laughter as a result, offer a wide range of health benefits. These include things like easing pain, increasing immunity, lowering stress, improving our memories and can make our hearts healthier by lowering our blood pressure.
Humor can make us happy, and a good mood increases our chances of making positive social connections. In other words, when we are happy, it is easier to make friends.
Humor and the act of laughing is not only fun in the moment, but it can also provide broad and long-lasting health benefits. To start with, the act of laughing relieves stress and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. At the same time, laughter helps to increase infection-fighting antibodies and to build stronger immunity in general. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins – the chemicals that make us feel good! Endorphins are so powerful that they can even help to relieve pain.
New York has a long history of comedy clubs and open mics. However, shows dedicated to comedy were not started in New York. Vaudeville comedy shows were started in France in the late 1800s. These shows were a short performance that included poetry reading, storytelling and the reenactment of funny situations. The popularity of these shows spread, and soon they were also found in the United States. The American Vaudeville shows were quite different to the French originals and by today’s standards were often racist and generally mean. The Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges were all originally actors on the New York Vaudeville stage.
However, it is more likely that modern stand-up comedy began at the New York Supper Clubs popular at the time. These clubs were hosted by a Master of Ceremony (MC). An MC keeps an event going and tells small jokes or stories in between the main acts. This is widely considered the true start of stand-up comedy.
The first real comedy clubs in New York started popping up in the 1950s and 60s and quickly spread throughout Manhattan’s neighborhoods. One of the most famous comedy clubs in New York is The Comic Strip. It was opened in 1976 and since then has had many hundreds of famous comedians perform there, including Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Aziz Ansari, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Wanda Sykes and many more. The Comic Strip is still open today and you can see live comedy most nights of the week. If you are a budding comedian, they also have an “Audition Lottery” that you can enter. If you pass you are given the opportunity to perform on their stage in the late-night slots.
Other famous comedy clubs include the Comedy Cellar, Carolines and the UBC Theatre. Although, these big clubs tend not to have open mic nights anymore. An open mic night is when anyone can stand up and spend 5 minutes telling a joke or doing something funny. These days to find an open mic you need to look at smaller clubs and bars.
New York is not only famous for stand-up comedy. Many humorous TV shows are based in in the city, including Saturday Night Live (SNL), Seinfeld and even Sex and the City (SATC). Of course, there are many thousands of New York-based comedies, but these three examples provide a good illustration of the types of typical New York humor; satiric, intelligent and a little bit naughty!
Did you know that you can go to a live recording of SNL? If you would like to sit in the audience, you can enter the lottery for a free ticket. You may only enter the lottery once per season and applications open on August 01. You can read more about entering the lottery here.
Although Seinfeld and SATC are now finished, you can usually find reruns on several tv channels. You can also visit Tom’s Restaurant – the café where Seinfeld and his friends meet - on the corner of Broadway and 111th. In much the same way, you can take a SATC tour and visit all the most important locations from the series, including Carrie’s house and Magnolia Bakery where they would buy delicious cupcakes.
Being able to tell a joke in another language is a very important milestone! It shows that you understand the language well, but also the culture! To tell a joke successfully you need to be confident. Building confidence in English can take some time and some practice. The best way to do this is by enrolling in an English course. Zoni is the best place to study English, from beginner to advanced we have a course for everyone! When you study English with us, you have many opportunities to put what you learn into practice. In addition to studying grammar and vocabulary, you practice listening, speaking and learning about American culture. We also train skills like public speaking and creative writing – skills that are very important to comedy and also everyday life! We have a number of campuses in New York, New Jersey and also in Florida, giving you the opportunity to learn English and enjoy some of the great comedy the United States has to offer! Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org. to find out more about our courses and which program best fits with your goals!
National Humor Month reminds us of the important role laughter and happiness plays in our general health and quality of life! Laughter really is the best medicine and through studying with Zoni you can make the most of world-class lessons AND develop your sense of humor in English!
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