Why laughter is the best medicine – A Q&A with Dr. Brian King, Sex Psychologist and Comedian
Dr. Brian King was born in the early ‘70s on the mean streets of suburban New York during the Vietnam War. He (barely) went to college and eventually majored in psychology. Upon graduating, King flipped burgers before making his way to graduate school for a doctorate in psychology — sex psychology to be exact. In the field, he bounced around and held a variety of different positions. King was a professor, a consultant, an analyst, a researcher and even authored an advice column for awhile. All of that was great, but his current occupation is the most rewarding. For the past half a decade or so, King has been a touring public speaker. He travels all over the country giving seminars on neuroscience, happiness and health. Aside from all that good junk, he’s also an incredible stand-up comedian.
1. You’re a jokester and a sex psychologist. It’s a fabulous combination. How have these two different careers played a role in each other and proved to be beneficial?
I don’t know about “fabulous” but it is a relatively unusual combination of skills. I’ve had production companies in Hollywood (where I am currently) pitch shows at me based on nothing but knowing that I am a funny psychologist or a comedian with a doctorate, depending on their point of view. The pitches are usually terrible, but screw it … I’ll do anything to get a foot in the door of TV.
I like to think that comedy and psychology are highly related to one another. For example, as a psychologist, I make observations on human behavior. As a comedian, I make fun of it.
I now incorporate comedy into everything that I do professionally. In fact, one of the reasons that
I am able to do what I do now is because I am a comedian. Seminars are boring. I try very hard to make mine the opposite of that.
2. In your opinion, why is laughter the best medicine?
Three reasons: It’s cheap. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription to get it. It also comes in different dosages.
Laughter is very beneficial, but I don’t think we should really consider it “medicine.” If we did, the government and insurance companies would almost certainly ruin it for us. Can you imagine having to run to Canada for some socialized laughs? Trust me, we do not want this. Their comedy is 75 percent as funny as ours and smells like hockey.
Laughter is great, we should all laugh more. You probably don’t laugh enough, none of us do.
3. Let’s talk science. What are some of the proven positives to smiling and laughing?
Contrary to my prior response, I do believe there is some validity to the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine,” because it is a remarkably beneficial activity.
– The primary reason laughter is so good for us is that it reduces stress. When we laugh, levels of
our stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) go down. Our blood pressure also goes down. Prolonged exposure to stress is one of the worst things for the body, so many physical and psychological illnesses are linked to stress. Managing stress makes us happy and healthy, and laughter, at least from my perspective, is nature’s stress management tool.
– Laughter also provides a boost to our immune system, increasing the responsiveness of tumor killing cells. In other words, laughter helps prevent and recover from cancer. Cancer sucks, so score one for laughter. It even decreases our frequency of colds. We get sick a lot less the more we laugh.
– Laughter makes us happy, and happier people live longer than less happy people, so laughter contributes to our longevity. Every time we laugh, we are extending the length of our lives if only by a fraction of a second. If I’ve made you laugh at all in this interview, you can thank me on your deathbed.
– Laughter helps us bond with others, fall in love and gets us laid. You knew the sex researcher would get around to mentioning that eventually. You had to see that, umm … coming.
There are a lot more benefits than just those, although any one of them would be sufficient to backup my earlier statement that we should all laugh more. Laughter really is the best medicine … after morphine … and maybe Viagra.
4. Tell us a joke.
I just did.
Okay, here’s another. What do you get when you add alcohol to a Shirley Temple? A Lindsey Lohan. That was a popular tweet once upon a time. Not really the sort of thing I’d bring to my stage act. I’m not really a one-liner kind of comedian. Anyway, I am glad this interview is going out in Florida. I love Florida. It’s a lot like California, you’ve got many of the same things we have out here: beaches, palm trees, breast implants. But for some reason, you refer to your Mexicans as Cubans. I guess you have to be different. Okay enough of that. Actually I am really glad this is going out in Florida because I am moving to your state in two weeks! See you soon Jacksonville!
5. We hear you have a new book in the works. What’s it about?
It is called “The Laughing Cure: Emotional and Physical Healing — A Comedian Reveals Why Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine” and will be available in early 2016. Actually, it is currently available as a pre-order (at a 25 percent discount) on Amazon.com! (hint hint)
I like it. I hope I still like it when the editors are finished doing their job. It summarizes a lot of my recent work, and I am very proud of it. I hope you like it, too.
6. How can laughing change the world?
It can make it a much better place. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. Hell, try it even if you do believe me.
What’s some advice you’d give to all the grumpy peeps looking to add more laughter to their life?
Buy my book! Seriously, I tell people not to take life so seriously. Some people take life way too seriously, and they are suffering as a result. They are making the people around them suffer as well, often driving those people away. Recognize that laughter is important and healthy, and seek out opportunities to laugh.
For more information on Brian and all his funny glory, visit www.drbrianking.com.
Local Laughing Recommendation:
Visit the Jacksonville Comedy club on January 28 at 8 p.m. to see the hilarious Paul Rodriguez live! Visit www.jacksonvillecomedy.com for more details.