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Phillips: The best medicine

Posted: July 28, 2015 5:22 p.m.
Updated: July 29, 2015 1:00 a.m.

The world, and life in general, is filled with sadness, despair, hopelessness, hatred, evil, negativity and sorrow of all kinds. Sorry to be such a downer, but it’s simply a fact. There’s a lot of bad feelings, attitudes and emotions we all face every day, from others and even from within ourselves.

But, there’s good news … a silver lining to the dark cloud I just laid on you. It certainly is a cliché, but clichés become clichés because there’s a high amount of truth within them. Laughter, my friends, really is the best medicine. Granted, a lot of it is a “placebo” effect, as laughter doesn’t cure diabetes, cancer or most other diseases or conditions. But, it has been proven laughter and a positive attitude can do wonders for your overall feeling of well being and can have a real effect on health by lowering blood pressure and pulse rate and generally relieving stress. Simply put, happy people tend to live longer.

I write fairly often here about my love of old comedy TV shows like “The Andy Griffith Show” and many others from my childhood. For me, the humor is there and it never gets old, no matter how many times I have seen a particular episode. I often laugh out loud while watching the program or other classics from the era.

Another aspect of comedy I appreciate greatly is the stand-up comedian. From classic performers such as Richard Pryor or George Carlin on through today’s group of modern funny men and women, I enjoy seeing them perform on TV, the internet and, occasionally, even in person. A night out at a comedy club is really a lot of fun and I’m a semi-regular visitor to The Comedy Zone in Charlotte and recently went to my first show at The Comedy House in Columbia. Both places frequently have top-name comics who are known for their TV specials, situation comedy roles, CDs and other ways they get their jokes out to the public. I love the fact they make themselves so accessible.

Of course, it is their job and doing live shows is one of the several ways they earn their living, but it still is endearing to me for a comic I know and love to perform not in a huge arena or stadium, but in a comedy club seating only a few hundred patrons. This way, they have a true connection to the audience and really take their act “to the people.”

The best comedians, as far as I am concerned, are the ones who throw off the cloak of political correctness and let their real feelings out. They know they may be offensive to some people, but they usually do it with humor and with a brutal honesty that’s hard not to admire, even if you disagree with what they are saying.

Race relations, religion, politics, sex … none of it is off limits to the best stand-up comedians. Sure, they will sometimes get groans or even boos of disapproval from the audience, but most will quickly counter with a statement saying they don’t care what we think, and it’s usually much more salty than that. I am keeping this “G rated.”

I was very happy to recently see the return of the network TV show “Last Comic Standing.” It’s a comedy competition with celebrity judges, very much like “American Idol” but for comics rather than singers. Since it is on network TV, the comedy is fairly clean. Not all of the contestants are complete unknowns. There are some who have made previous TV appearances and have been touring the comedy clubs for years but have never gotten that one big break to really make their career take off. I suggest you take a look.

If you find you don’t laugh very much or very often, find a reason to. It will benefit you. If you see me around town, ask me to tell you a joke. I’ve got a million of them.


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