A to Z of Laughter
Co-Written by Utkrishti Katheriya
Animations by Radha Pennathur
We trail the alphabetical path to explore laughter and its various laughable, adorable quirks.
A carries Accessories
Out this baggage of emotions, comes one laugh and three trickles of tears, a snort and snot, a chuckle, sometimes a chortle and a wispy airy whistling following a bwahhaha. A pursed pur, spit-filled words, aching tummy and ticklish sides. All these fit in the deceptively small looking big-hearted laughter-tote.
B as in Blender
Mirth blended and churned together. Where laughter mixes freely with several giggles in a picture hall and you don't have to check if your parents realize that you understand juicy jokes now.
C gave us Charlie Chaplin
circa 1900s-1927. When laughter did not have sound and actors were found throwing pies at each other's faces and slipping on a banana peel. Mr. Bean, slapstick, exaggerated physical comedy is all we have left from the Silent Era.
D is healthy for Dada-Dadi
Every morning, a retired social support group of 60-year-olds gathers in our community parks. Bonded over complaints about children who flew from their nests, they raise their arms and release their breath with a hahaha hahaha.
E is my Eyeliner
"Hey you look so sad and tired, is everything alright?"
It seems like laughter can be dampened into a sad one without the filter of carbon and activated charcoal. Maybe lean strokes of kohl decide the mood for the day: joyful and vivacious.
F is busy Faking it
The boss just cracked a horrible joke. You're groaning and pulling at your hair on the inside, but you flash your 'Widest Smile', with a side of hahahas and a tiny clap of your hands. It was all in a day's work.
G goes with Greek's Gelos
The man of the hour in Dionysus' parties, Gelos, the God of Laughter was in charge of making sure that everyone was having a good time. Who knew the ancient Greeks were into Standup comedy?
H is in Hyena
Animal kingdom registers a lot of expressions that mammals exhibit whenever they feel
happy. From the nearest to us- apes to a gleeful dolphin , from dogs to hyenas with a barky-howly laugh, crackling hoots, squeaky chuckles and snickers that sound like mechanical springs are not just limited to the humans.
Fun fact: Mice love being tickled and would snuggle close to your hand so that you rub them! What if the Pied Piper tickled the mice instead of playing the flute?
I is Infectious
Sitting in a boring lecture, did you ever start laughing just on the way your friend laughs?
There was no time for contact tracing but soon the whole class got infected by this contagion of nuisance. The ones immune were left to complain. Let's remember the quarantine you spent doing detention in the library.
J made him Joker
When you have to carry a laminated card to explain that there wasn't anything funny, you just have Pseudobulbar Affect. Why so serious?
K led to Kurukshetra
Kingdoms, kinfolk and a holy book of karma yoga. A war fought on the chaupad of dharma and dilemma. Some say it was sparked by a laugh. What if Draupadi had never ridiculed the blindness? Or did she become blind in her ridicule?
L is the Language of Laughter
A social gathering of gossipers turned journalists, heartbroken nicotin addicts, mother of a howling child, father of a failing artist and a closeted comedian obscurely jotting down notes. Call it adda maarna, arratai kacheri or gappe ladana, we're all here to have a little laugh.
M is Masked
Hidden beneath the 3 layers of fear, concern and uncertainty. But the eyes crinkle with laughter, undisguised.
N has No Network
Tubelight, internet explorer and "beta tum pogo dekho". Sometimes the joke goes over your head. You still didn't get it, right?
O gets written as Onomatopoeia
'Ha' is the smallest unit of written laughter. Modify or add these units and you get levels of amusement and hilarity. Sometimes our favorite comic character guffaws in UPPER CASE and sometimes gingerly passes a heehee.
Did you laugh differently in your head for every character too?
P feels Painful
Prank, playful and sometimes a royal torture method of Han Dynasty. It is a harmless brushing of a feather against your feet, other times you can actually be tickled to death!
Q for a Quickie
We're not talking about what you think we are talking about. To crack these is easy comedy, but to go beyond them? It's pretty hard! That's what she said.
R is texted as ROFL
Somehow, typed, emailed, DMed and WhatsApp-ed- laughter gets manifested into physiologically impossible actions. You laugh your ass off or roll on the floor laughing with a straight face. Spits water on the keypad.
S is Sitcom Laughter
A classically conditioned device used by the editors to elicit obliged laughter when they know the joke in the screenplay is not funny enough.
T takes Thirty Muscles
Levator labii superioris, risorius, mentalis, depressor anguli oris, orbicularis oris, buccinator, depressor labii inferioris, zygomatic, mandibular, abdomen, diaphragm, jaw and vocal cords working together is all it takes when you uncontrollably vibrate while making fun of your teacher!
U is Uncle Jim
A lone chuckle in a crowd, a stifled giggle at a funeral. There is always The Uncle who finds serious situations amusing. If you don't know who, maybe it's you.
V is a Villain
They are menacing, they are dark, they are diabolical in every way. But what makes a villain a villain if not their laugh? From the most devilish fiends of Middle Earth to the relatively docile Disney equivalents, every villain's laugh sends goosebumps down our spines.
W traces Wrinkles
Lines, maps, patterns on crinkled paper; crinkled skin on tightened muscle and squinting eyes. Wrinkles swim their way to full laughter, diving head first into your eyes. They show in short, staccato glimpses, the unmasked vulnerability of youth and old age; of life.
X is by f(x)
Boy meets girl. Barring every class disparity, they fall in love in picturesque locations of careful camera angles cropping filth and poverty. But alas! Every romantic story can only turn into a Blockbuster with the 'x' factor of a Vadivelu, Johnny Lever, Brahmanandam or Paresh Rawal. A comic-relief sidekick bullied for his body image only so that the Hero can get a pat on his 6-pack abs. A sure shot Formula for a Romantic Comedy!
Y is Your Inside Joke
Was it the scuffle between two pigeons at the bus stop or was it the victory dance of a banana peel in the corridor? A private observation kindles a smirk and a chuckle, as the rest of the world blurs past, each person an undercover hoarder of inside jokes.
Z has Ze last laugh