It’s all Pam’s fault. She started it. This has never happened to me before.
I couldn’t stop laughing hysterically, at church, on stage, while preaching, during the middle of a message, while reading Scriptures. I mean snorting, out-of-breath, laughter with tears coming down my face… in front of an almost-packed house and our comfortably full Video Cafe where over a hundred more people watched a live feed. Har! Har! Har!
This has never happened to me before. At least not while I’m preaching.
There was the time, long ago, when I was on a date. Something funny happened, and I snorted a milk shake all over my date. Via my nostrils.
And the other time I was on the phone with a car-rental agent. And I said something hilarious. C’mon, if you know me, you know that I’m a natural born goof. Kevin was there, and he started laughing first. Then Laura sniffled–and she’s very classy and demure. Then I snorted… and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t breathe. And the poor, poor car-rental lady had to wait till I could communicate in a non-maniacal way.
Oh, and the time back in high school when my friends and I went to a very special, very classy traditional Christmas event at Chicago’s famous Moody Church. Basically, a re-enactment of the Christmas story.
You gotta understand: this is a huge church. Formal. Classy. Important.
And a huge event: packed out. People come from miles to see it. Very serious. Professional. Powerful.
So what? I couldn’t help myself. Never mind that we were in the balcony toward the front, and that we created a ruckus.
At the most dramatic scene in the play, “The Presentation to Simeon” to be exact, a fellow sitting a few rows away grunted. He said, “Ugh.” That’s all it took. My friends started laughing. I started laughing. And we desperately tried with every fiber of our being to hold it in, and to send the laugh energy down to the pit of our stomachs, or to anyplace that would contain it. But to no avail.
Laugh energy is tougher than kryptonite. Tears. Rocking back and forth. Occassional mini-snorts. Breathlessness. Embarassment. Face-covering. Shame. I’m sure… damnation.
No doubt some people scowl and quote the Bible:
“I said of laughter–“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”” Ecclesiastes 2:2, NKJV.
If you hold in a laugh attack, the laugh energy goes down, and adds a twist to your bowels. Then it moves over into your cheek muscles and tightens them up causing you to rise a fraction of an inch in your chair. This is where we get the technical term: UPTIGHT. Then it uses your diaphragm as a trampoline, causing spasmodic bursts of unwanted sound–sounds that you’d get if you tried to shove a barnyard full of animals into a the trunk of a Volkswagon Beetle. Finally, the laughter energy spreads into your hips and makes them spread out. That’s why it’s so important to never suppress a laugh attack.
Two weekends ago it was almost Angie’s fault, but I self-sacrificially, professionally, suppressed it. As I like say, I am a pre-fessional (something you are before you get good at it).
I used a bag of manure to illustrate our value to God [click here for the sermon]. During our Classic service [traditional, click here], I had to hand the bag of fresh, organic steer manure to my friend Larry. He would deliver it to the stage for the next service (the services overlap).
Anyway, when I finished my illustration, I handed Larry the bag and said something like, “Here you go, Larry. You can have my bag of you-know-what.”
Angie–a fun, classy, elegant lady–thought this was hysterical. She let out not a snort but something more like a squeak. She tried to hold it her laughter, but couldn’t. She’s not professional. I, however, for one shining moment, was. I caught myself before I got going.
Then I rebuked Angie for her unspirtual-ness. “Madness!” I said, biblically.
Mark Twain preached:
“Laughter which cannot be suppressed is catching. Sooner or later it washes away our defences, and undermines our dignity, and we join in it — ashamed of our weakness, and embittered against the cause of its exposure, but no matter, we have to join in, there is no help for it.”
There was no help for it this past weekend in our 10:45 (our fourth and final live) service. Nope. All I said was that the party in Esther, chapter one, changed from being wonderful to being terrible “faster than Britney Spears’ marriage”
Pam thought that was brilliantly hilarious. [Which it was.]
She didn’t squeak like Angie. She didn’t snort like me. Pam let out a “Har!” kind of like a barking seal. In the front row. Right in front of me. Pam and her family are our friends, and she is very fun, and certifiably crazy, so that made it extra funny to me. Then she let out another “Har!” and she covered her face and bent over, vibrating violently like the cut-off tail of a dog that happy to see ya. Like I said, it’s all Pam’s fault.
So I started laughing. I tried valiantly to hold it in. To carry on with the delivery of God’s Holy Word. To read the next portion of Scripture. To press forward into the spiritual fray.
But I couldn’t. I was laughing too hard. Knee-slapping laughter. On stage. I fanned myself because the room was suddenly hot. I wiped tears out of my eyes.
Oh, I recovered and continued. I’ll be fine.
But, Pam: you are banished to the back row. Forever.
Grace: laughing so hard with friends that you snort stuff out your nose.
Have you ever had a laugh attack? Can we please hear about it? That way your hips won’t get wide. Leave a comment.