Have you heard of Laughter Yoga? I was introduced to it in my early twenties and find it fascinating and well, funny. There’s a Laughing Club in Denver that I checked out a couple times, years ago. I went with my sister. It was strange and awkward but I also sort of loved it. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t love to laugh? Over the years, I’ve made it a habit to laugh hysterically until tears are rolling down my cheeks. Okay if I’m being honest, I haven’t done that in a while… but in my younger years I was known for it.
In college I was a Comedy Improv groupie – a few of those funny guys lived in my dorm and I became great friends with them immediately. I went to see their shows every Saturday night. Mission Improvable at UMASS is still going strong today! One of my best friends from childhood, still one of my best friends now, is the funniest person I know. The first time I met my (now) husband I immediately fell in love with his sense of humor (among other things – like his good looks, his intelligence and whit and his love of travel – more on that in a future blog post). I love watching stand up comedy and listening to funny podcasts. I can be a pretty serious person but I still love to laugh.
As an artist, I am constantly bombarded with ideas for projects. The ones that stick are the ones that I know will force me out of my comfort zone. They are the ones that I feel will bring joy to others. My love of laughter is one of the things that inspired a project that I would some day love to see come to life. It’s called The Laughing Elevator Project.
Imagine pushing the button to an elevator in an office building, or a hotel, or a parking garage. Waiting to go up. Ding! The doors open and immediately you hear laughter emanating from the space – at the same time as it is inviting it, too, is a bit discomforting. But you have to get in, you have to go up. The laugh track is not just one person laughing, it is a crowd of people, laughing uncontrollably. You can hear men, women, children laughing hysterically. The walls are plastered with life-size portraits of those same people… laughing. At you? With you? You’re not sure, but you can’t help but smile and maybe even laugh a little because the sound is contagious, it’s visceral. Imagine this same experience while sharing an elevator with strangers. During a normal elevator experience you’d likely ignore each other. That dreaded awkwardness thick in the air until the strangers’ designated floors are reached, they step out and you feel relief. Today, though, with laughter surrounding you, you and the strangers acknowledge one another, you make eye contact and you smile, because yes this is awkward but it’s also funny. A minute later the doors open, you step out and you go on about your day but the laughing elevator keeps popping into your thoughts and the memory of it makes you smile. You recall the strangers with whom you made a connection and you can’t help yourself, you laugh.
I made a little prototype so that I could share this vision with others – see THE LAUGHING ELEVATOR PROJECT website to see it come to life.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see this installation piece come to life. I don’t know how one finds funding for such a thing. But, man, would I love to make it happen. Not just for the end product of bringing joy to an otherwise joyless experience, but because I imagine the process of creating this piece – photographing people, finding ways to make them laugh genuinely in front of the camera, capturing the laugh track audio (perhaps starting with one of those local Laughing Clubs?) – would be an experience that would bring me right back to those younger years when I did laugh so hard that tears would roll down my cheeks. I want that again. It’s been too long.
If anyone can help me bring this project to life, let me know!