Breaking record is a laughing matter

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

A campaign to break the world record for the biggest gathering of laughing people was launched in Cape Town during the weekend.

The National Laughter Campaign hopes to provoke 50000 people into fits of laughter without the use of "jokes, humour or comedy" next May.

The current record of 10000 people laughing together was set in Denmark in 2000, said Laughter for Africa spokesperson Martin Combrinck.

He said laughter should "come from within" and connect people. But using humour to make people laugh was limiting because it might exclude those who did not understand the jokes or who came from different backgrounds.

Combrinck said laughter helped release "anti-stress cocktails" in the body, resulting in happier people.

"Laughter is contagious. It connects people and allows them to interact and form communities. It also allows us to take life less seriously, to be more positive and to overcome obstacles," he said.

World Laughter Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of May in 60 countries. About 350 people celebrated the day on Saturday in Cape Town with music and a message from the founder of the Worldwide Laughter Movement, Madan Kataria.

"If ever there were a need to laugh the most, it is now. The world is in a state of turmoil and panic," Kataria said.

"The easiest thing we can do is to change the way we feel inside. This is the right time to laugh for no reason until a time external conditions improve."

The Worldwide Laughter Movement was founded in India in 1995.