I Cry When I Laugh
Why do we laugh cry? What can laugh tears teach us about sense of humor?
Why collect and study laugh tears?
I am fascinated by humor—particularly how laughter connects us to each other. Sense of humor is rarely studied, but I think it should be.
I’ve laugh-cried since I was a child so I decided to turn my physiological quirk into a scientific study. In almost 2 years, I have collected over 80 vials.
Do you know what type of humor makes you laugh the most?
I couldn’t easily answer that question so I started collecting my laugh tears and documenting their every detail.
What exactly are you documenting?
- Date and time of day
- Cause of laughter
- Type of humor (situational, physical, potty, etc.)
- Human(s) present (name, relationship, length of relationship)
- Presence of alcohol in the system
Sometimes, I wear a vial-holding necklace*. Other times I carry them in my pocket. And there is always a stash in my bag. I haven’t missed a tear yet.
*Did you just think about Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob’s blood vials?
What do you want to learn?
Why do we laugh cry? What evolutionary purpose does it serve? How common is it for people to laugh cry?
As for me, what type of humor makes me laugh the most? What time do I laugh the most? With loved ones or strangers? Where? Do I laugh cry more when I’ve been drinking? More importantly, can I improve my well-being by putting myself in the most beneficial laughter-inducing scenarios?
What's next for this research?
I'm interested in engaging the public in a study of laugh tears.
How common is it to laugh cry? Do our reactions to different forms of humor release different hormones in our brains? Would situational humor or physical comedy have a more pleasurable effect on our moods? What if we could invite more of that style of humor into our lives to improve our well-being?
In the coming months, I’ll be broadening the study and collaborating with neuroscientists and biochemists to start getting to the bottom of this.
(1981, Am J. Ophthalmol) Effect of stimulus on the chemical composition of human tears.
(1993, Robert R. Provine) Laughter Punctuates Speech: Linguistic, Social and Gender Contexts of Laughter
(1986, William H. Frey) Crying: They Mystery of Tears
(2011, Shani Gelstein) Human Tears Contain A Chemosignal
(2012, Robert R. Provine) Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccuping, and Beyond