Sunday May 4 is Strictly for Laughs

For immediate release

Sunday May 4 is Strictly for Laughs

TORONTO 2 May 2003 - When World Laughter Day rolls around on Sunday, May 4, a group of Toronto women will be right there laughing with the rest of the world. The group chanting Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha might be slightly smaller - but the feeling will be just as intense.

In Australia, laughter events will take place in Queensland, Sydney, and Victoria. They'll also be laughing it up in India, the U.S. France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., and Hungary. More than 8,000 people are expected to participate in one meeting at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen Denmark. Even in Canada's remote Yellowknife, NWT, people will stop to have a yuk.

So why the big Hoo Haa? The world needs laughter now more than at any other time, say supporters of the World Laughter Tour - among them Catherine Lawrence, whose company, Survival of the Funniest, will be hosting one of the Toronto events.

"Laughter is a critical survival skill," she says. "I like to think that Toronto is one of the world's laughter hot-spots. And we need it now, more than at any other time. With SARS and West Nile virus you may think there's nothing left in the world to laugh at. But Bill Cosby said that if you can find the humor in anything…you can survive it," says Catherine.

"Steve Wilson, president of the World Laughter Tour, Inc., headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, likes to say that regardless of the reason you laugh, its main purpose is to discharge tension and stress. Psychologically, laughter is about creating and maintaining relationships and morale."

Catherine also likes to think that therapeutic laughter has a particular Torontonian orientation.

"Remember Gary Lautens, with his TOTS disease? TOTS stands for Taking Ourselves Too Seriously. When we do that, the weight of the world just drags us down. We need to take a few moments to laugh it up, and to remind ourselves that laughter is not only the best medicine, it should become the way we look at life."

Dr. Madan Kataria first proclaimed World Laughter Day in 1998 in Mumbai, India. The idea caught on, and the event reached North America via the World Laughter Tour, Inc., whose efforts have enlisted the help of Certified Laughter Leaders, of which Catherine is one of the first in Canada.

"Laughter reflects inner joy," says Catherine. "It's the ultimate celebration of life.

"Laughter clubs, which are just getting started in Canada, create a place where people can go to laugh stress away. Like yoga, laughter is a way to balance and integrate mind, body, and spirit in a healthy way.

"Understanding the value of laughter and harnessing your natural humour resource will immediately impact your energy and enthusiasm for work and life," she says.

So on Sunday, May 4, stop a moment and have a laugh on us. You can be sure the rest of the world will be laughing with you.