Audiences at the first ever Coventry Comedy Festival will be invited to take part in some serious academic research on improving people’s wellbeing this week – by having a good laugh!
The Festival begins on Friday 3 May, with more than 80 separate shows taking place between then and Sunday 12 May, when TV comedian Tom Allen headlines at the city's famous Belgrade Theatre.
Health experts believe there is a clear reason to get out and see a show – laughter is good for you!
Just like you or I might take a selfie to reprise a happy moment, academics at the University of Derby believe audience members who record a ‘Laughie’ of their own laughter for one minute will enjoy improved wellbeing each time they listen back and laugh with it. This experience, they say, can contribute to improved wellbeing.
Researcher Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky explained: “We are investigating the idea that people who record themselves laughing for one minute, then listen back and laugh with their Laughie, alone or with others, enjoy improved wellbeing. Our research so far supports this idea when the Laughie is used three times a day. It looks like here is a way in which we can all harness the power of laughter to improve our own health and wellbeing. So maybe laughter really is the best medicine!
“We want people at the shows to record their own laughter and give this a try. They can even send us their Laughie for our Laughie database, and let us know if they laughed along with their Laughie.”
Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing for Coventry, said: “This is such an interesting area of research. There is already a great deal of evidence that links simple things we can all do every day with improved wellbeing. We just need to remember to do them! For example, the Five Ways to Wellbeing are well established actions that can have a longer term impact on lifting a person’s mood.
“We know that getting out and participating in events can be a great way for people to lift their mood, and of course by doing this people are potentially reducing their social isolation.
“There is no question that humour can help people feel better. Everybody feels better after a good laugh and a chance to connect with other people. So maybe the Laughie will indeed prove to help people improve their own wellbeing!”
Coventry Comedy Festival is just the latest of a series of events during Coventry and Warwickshire Year of Wellbeing 2019. The Year is here to help inspire and empower people to change their lives, improving their wellbeing or the wellbeing of the people around them.
Liz explains how the Five Ways to Wellbeing can help Coventry Comedy Festival audiences – and the rest of us:
“Stand up comedy is actually a great way to deliver ideas and get messages across to people. People can relate to the performer on the stage more if they make us laugh. People are able to understand and access a point of view that otherwise they simply might not have considered.”
“Getting out to a show is good for you because it requires you to use your decision-making faculties, probably walk a little and access services like transport as well as simply being outdoors.”
“Getting to a comedy show means you have the chance to take in your surroundings, the outside world, noting the response of your fellow audience members and, ultimately, listening to the performer’s point of view.”
“Whether you are finding your way to a new venue, attending an event with someone you have not been out with before, seeing a particular performer for the first time, or just enjoying a show that is new to you, you are learning when you step into a comedy venue.”
“An element of going to any live show, including comedy, is the idea that you make wellbeing gains by participating in the event. Applauding, cheering, laughing out loud are all ways of showing your appreciation and acknowledging the world around you.”
Find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire Year of Wellbeing 2019.