Movin' On with Nellie: Is it humorous or humerus?


Is it humorous or humerus? The answer depends on your audience and your situation.

If you woke in the morning with a problem with your arm – it’s the humerus unless it is also the funny bone and it might as well be too humorous not to laugh out loud.

In her article “9 Ways Humor Heals” found on Psychcentral.com, Theresa Borchard quotes Charlie Chaplin as once saying, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” 

I have been one of those teachers who used humor in my lessons to tie a physical and happy reaction to often dreaded writing or reading assignments. I bet the students who made a classroom skit out of Moby Dick remember some of those classic lines: “Thar she blows!” Or “To the last I grapple with thee; from Hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee!” The lines in themselves are not humorous; but the stage props a white sheet over a student embodies Moby Dick, and the Pequod was a design from a class table and several chairs. It was a class project in which the students cooperated, wrote their scripts, and assigned parts for everyone. 

In the speech classes, students found humor as a relief to the strain of talking in front of others. I’ve noticed we all do that, too. Listen for the times you make a joke at your own expense. It’s a way of accepting and healing.

In an article in Reader’s Digest, Mehmet C. Oz, M.D, says, “When people use humor, the autonomic nervous system just tones down a bit to take it off high gear, and that allows the heart to relax.” He would know; he is a heart surgeon and a television host!

Borchard also reports in her article that humor reduces stress, boosts the immune system and spreads happiness. I can feel the stress leave my tightened shoulders when I watch a funny show like RV (2008) with Robin Williams as the dad, or when I watch Star Wars (any episode) when a character like Hans Solo and Princess Leia interact and those one-liners sweep over the viewer like a rush of laugh-out-loud humor.

Chaplin had the right idea. We have to take our pain and play with it. I used humor when I fell watering the yard the other day. I didn’t quite make the step up on to the ramp. My knee ached like a noisy tooth, but all of a sudden, I laughed out loud. When my son came, he chimed, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” I kept laughing as he gave me a hand up to my feet again. 

It might take a village, to raise a kiddo; but it takes frequent doses of humor to heal low spirits and broken humeri, too.

—Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

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