Comedic Therapy – Cleansing Emotions Through Cathartic Laughing

Posted on: 7 May 2020

When was the last time you watched stand-up comedy and laughed until you cried? If a comedian reduces you to tears, they have done more than make you laugh. A good comedian is a therapist. Comedians are satirists. They mock our human follies and fears.  

When a talented comedian delivers a punch line, they walk right into your psyche and opens your closet of repressed emotions.  As they say, the punchlines hit home. It's good for a cathartic laugh.

What is a cathartic laugh?

Catharsis is a psychological process in which negative emotions bottled up inside you lead to psychological symptoms, such as depression or passive-aggressive behavior. As part of Freud's therapy, the psychoanalyst encouraged his patients to express these repressed emotions. 

One of the best ways to purge emotions is a good cathartic laugh. A cathartic laugh is triggered by words or actions that resonate with you on a deep personal level. Like a dam bursting, they open the dyke and the pent up emotions come flowing out. Similar to a good cry, a cathartic laugh is an emotional cleansing.

Seinfeld, for example, is full of cathartic moments because the writers drew on their own real-life experiences to satire and parody our everyday lives.

Seinfeld's "Bubble Boy" episode was funny when it was produced in 1992. In today's world of global pandemics and confinements, when George causes the Bubble Boy's protective world to deflate, the scene evokes more than a chuckle. It hits home.

For a good cathartic laugh:

Watch Stand Up Comedy

If you cannot go and see a stand-up comedy routine in person, YouTube and Netflix are good places to watch your favorite comics. You will find plenty of popular stand-up comedians and discover some new ones. Or listen to your favorite Ron White inspired comedy album MP3 while you are on the go. 

Become a Stand Up Comedian 

You do not need to sit back with a Ron White inspired comedy to benefit from the therapeutic effects of standup comedy. Nor do you need to quit your job and go on the road. Standup comedy classes and workshops are a popular form of therapy.

Whether improv or scripted, start expressing your repressed thoughts and emotions through your comedic act. When you're ready, find your local stand up mic. Comedians are part entertainer, part therapist. As others in your audience relate to your material, some are sure to have a good cathartic life with you.