laughter

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Laughter, and pizza, are the best medicine

When the team at Red Wagon Pizza saw a national company touting something they’d been doing for months, they decided to spoof them.

MINNEAPOLIS — A lot of small businesses have been trying to just stay afloat right now. And when you can find joy and humor in the hardest days, well, that’s a win! A local pizza joint did just that.

“How do we keep our guests safe? How do we ensure that our staff remains safe?” asks Peter Campbell, owner of Red Wagon Pizza.

The folks at Red Wagon, in Minneapolis, shifted gears pretty quickly back in March. They shut down the dining room, filled it up with boxes, and figured out how to make your pickup contactless.

“You come in the parking lot, you call a number, you open your trunk, and we place the food inside your trunk for you,” says Campbell.

So, when a national pizza company put out an ad claiming they’d finally figured it out…it didn’t sit well with the Red Wagon Crew.

“I was like, I’m pretty confident my team figured this out on like day 2 of the pandemic,” says Campbell.

Peter told his team, and they said, nope, not on our watch!

They wrote a script and shot a mock ad as kind of a team-building experience. You can watch the entire ad here.


“Figuring out when we had time to go out into the parking lot and throw pizzas at each other’s cars and whose car was going to be volunteered to do that,” says Jill Drum Steffens, who spearheaded the whole project.

“The idea that so many of our days are the same, the same, the same, and we’re not seeing the same guests that we used to see, the same type of human interactions, and the same kind of joy and laughter so, it was kind of bringing that together with our very small team,” says Steffens.

“I was so proud of the team and I think it’s hysterical,” says Campbell.

Laughter, after all, is the best medicine. Oh, and pizza helps too.


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Kamala Harris’ awkward laughs spark outrage. Why laughter is not her best medicine



Kamala Harris wearing a suit and tie


Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential candidate, faced harsh criticism and ridicule from Republicans, including President Donald Trump, for bursting into laughter at a question about her alleged Leftist leanings.

Kamala Harris was mercilessly criticised, even reviled, in the battleground state of Twitter for laughing out loud when CBS reporter Norah O’Donnell asked her if she would push a progressive agenda since she was rated as “the most liberal senator” by the non-partisan, independent Congressional vote tracker, GovTrack.us.

Kamala Harris seemed unprepared for the question and laughed nervously when O’Donnell set the stage with a statement about her being a liberal. Kamala Harris said it was Vice President Mike Pence who had called her liberal during their debate.

The reporter persisted and cited GovTrack as the source of the information, and said Harris had supported the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all and legalization of marijuana while Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had not, the senator defended her record.

Kamala Harris again broke into laughter when O’Donnell asked, “Is that a socialist perspective?” Socialism is a bad word in American politics in a way conservatism is not. US politicians can espouse the most extreme right-wing positions and not face questions but anyone who dares to talk about workers and unions can be labeled a socialist and face an onslaught.

Kamala Harris got a bit emotional and explained, “It is the perspective of a woman who grew up a black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India, who also likes hip hop.” She finished by chuckling again.

Kamala Harris’ laughter has become a point of ridicule even though this time it probably came from a place of disbelief because she was being labeled as left of Bernie Sanders. But she does tend to break into awkward laughter at inopportune moments, something that leads to memes and counter memes.

Republican digital hawks are always at the ready to extract a clip from what might have been a longer conversation to portray Kamala Harris negatively. Some of the reactions on Twitter to the latest Kamala Harris outrage were downright vile.

Donald Trump made fun of Kamala Harris’ laughter at a rally on Monday hours after his “rapid response team” flooded Twitter about the incident. Two days ago, he went on a rant against her saying the US would never see a “socialist” president, “especially a female socialist we’re not going to put up with it.” The attacks would be deemed sexist by any definition.

Last month, Donald Trump said, “If a woman is going to become the first president of the United States, it can’t be her,” referring to Kamala Harris since Joe Biden has indicated he would be a one-term president. It is a scare tactic Republicans use with aplomb.

The fight for the White House in 2020 has gone down to a level that would have been unimaginable a decade ago. Misogyny, dog whistles,

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19 | How laughter may be effective medicine for these trying times



a person wearing a costume: COVID-19 | How laughter may be effective medicine for these trying times


© Jocelyn Fernandes
COVID-19 | How laughter may be effective medicine for these trying times

Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping all of us to get through this seemingly never-ending pandemic: Try a little laughter.

Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it.

“Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes,” Miller said. “Having a good sense of humor is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety and bring back a sense of normalcy during these turbulent times.”

Laughter releases nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and decreases clotting, Miller said. An epidemiological study of older men and women in Japan confirmed that those who tend to laugh more have a lower risk of major cardiovascular illness. Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also associated with living longer, an epidemiological study from Norway reported, although the correlation appears to be stronger for women than for men.

Armed with this growing body of research, Miller prescribes “one good belly laugh a day” for his patients. It’s not just going “ha, ha,” he explained, but a “deep physiological laugh that elicits tears of joys and relaxation.”

While the long-term impacts of such a practice remain unknown, Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London, said that laughter has been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and increases the body’s uptake of the feel-good endorphins.

There also appear to be cognitive benefits. Watching a funny video was tied to improvements in short-term memory in older adults and increased their capacity to learn, research conducted by Dr. Gurinder Singh Bains of Loma Linda University found.

Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances, said George Bonanno, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University.

In one study, Bonanno interviewed young women who had been sexually abused and noted their facial expressions. “Those who managed to laugh or smile at moments during their interview were more likely to be doing better two years later than those who had not,” he said. “Humor keeps negative emotions in check and gives us a different perspective, allowing us to see some of the bad things that happen to us as a challenge rather than a threat.”

Humor and tragedy may be more intimately connected than one would think.

“Charlie Chaplin once said ‘In order to truly laugh you need to be able to take your pain and play with it,’” said Paul Osincup, the president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. “Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine,” Osincup recommends. “Play with those. See if you can find any humor in your situation.”

Megan Werner, a

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