Episode 4: ‘A good laugh is a mighty good thing!’

19 Jun 2021

In this feel-good podcast episode we talk about the power of laughter.  Charlie Chaplin once said: ‘ A good laugh is a mighty good thing, a rather too scarce a good thing.’  Following a year when laughter might have been scarce for many, Theatre Unwrapped explores the transformational effects of laughter, from its origins in early humans to the ways we ‘laugh’ online and how we create comedy for the stage.  And we find out what happens when you take clowns to places where laughter really is very scarce.   

So, what makes us laugh? Are we the only species that laugh? Do we need another person to laugh out loud with, and why are there so many types of laughter?   And why would you send a clown to a crisis zone? 

Sue’s first guest – Dr Eric Weitz, professor at Trinity College, Dublin, talks about the origins of laughter, why we laugh and our different types of laughter. He is the author of ‘Theatre and Laughter’ in which he describes theatre and laughter as natural soul mates. Dr Eric talks about why laughter is so important, how it may have evolved from a survival mechanism, why we may not be the only species to laugh, and describes how laughter has been categorised and studied for hundreds of years.  

Sam Holdsworth, Director of Clowns without Borders UK, is a champion for supporting the emotional wellbeing of children living in disaster zones. She quite simply creates laughter and play with children in the most desperate places on the planet. Sam is an extraordinary woman, often called inspirational, and you’ll know exactly why after listening to her. Sam and her team share laughter and fun with children living on the brink of humanitarian disaster.  How does she do it? You’ll have to listen to her – she’s magnetic and believes laughter is a basic human right for children. Her work and stories are uplifting, she brings tears of joy, laughter and fun to us all.

John Donnelly is a BAFTA nominated playwright and screenwriter. John’s plays include The Pass and Bone. He talks to Sue about how he writes with laughter in mind and the uncertain magic of audience reactions.  He talks also about the types of laughter in a theatre; from the polite clapping and light laughter to the gasps of delight and surprise. He talks about the honesty in laughter – it’s not easy to fake. John also talks about the importance of having a sense of humour because it means you have a perspective on the world around you.  

Oh – and don’t miss out guests’ favourite jokes!

Thanks to our fabulous guests for taking part on the Theatre Unwrapped podcast – we feel enlightened, recharged and very happy!

If you would like Sue to unwrap a theatre story for you, or if you have feedback about this or any other episode of Theatre Unwrapped drop her a line at podcast@wolseytheatre.co.uk

Listen to all the Theatre Unwrapped episodes here

The New Wolsey Theatre is supported by Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.