Becky says things about … laughing

Since the news broke last Monday about the smackingly sudden exit of our short, furry and funny friend Mr Williams, the Internet has been transformed into a veritable psychology journal, brimming with probing analyses of depression, suicide, alcoholism, hope, lack of hope, life and death. Darling Listener, I don’t want to add to the already lengthy index of opinions on the meaning of life; and besides, who am I to comment on the bleak, crushing force of depression when the saddest moment of my day was realising I left my lunch at home?


So, most splendid listeners, let us focus on the bright side of life; let us look at what Mr Williams made us do when he put on a rubber mask and shouted ‘HELP IS ON THE WAY, DEAR!’ or when he told Rufio he was a paramecium brain:


O Listener, I just love laughing. I love every kind of laugh: the painful, uncontrolled giggle that invariably results in an undignified piggish snort; the silent, head-shaking nose-laugh when someone tells you a joke that is wrong on every inconceivable level and you know you are going straight to hell for finding mirth in it; the unexpected, explosive laugh that may well result in an unexpected, explosive emission from your lower regions that you definitely didn’t intend and which you hurriedly try to cover up by making your laughter acutely disproportionate to the thing that made you laugh in the first place.


Just today I have experienced that joyful, convulsed state that is brought on by perhaps one of the most delicious laughs of all: the ‘finding-something-vaguely-amusing-at-work-and-trying-not-to-laugh-because-the-office-is-quiet-and-people-are-working-which-makes-it-a-thousand-times-funnier-and-eventually-you-are-choking-on-your-own-fist-and-tears-and-sliding-wetly-around-in-your-chair-like-a-floppy-otter’ laugh. Can I remember what made me laugh? Can I bobbins. The laugh made me laugh. The same naughty and forbidden laugh we all experienced a dozen times a day at school when we passed a note that said ‘Mrs Lamos has a hairy back’ during silent reading time.


Laughter is in everything: that well-timed belch in the middle of a meeting; the little trip up a kerb that you have to turn into a run; the accidental sign-off ‘Love Becky xxx’ in an email to an extremely important and solemn chief-executive; the tail-end of a conversation overheard in the street.


But we all know that there is no greater joy, no laugh more acute, than the laugh expelled at the misfortune of others. O, Listener, how many ribs have I bruised guffawing at the suffering of my friends! When my chum slipped over on the wet deck of the Statan Island Ferry, going from a perfectly stationary position next to me –


– to this position –


– in less than a second and for apparently no reason, I laughed so much that a concerned German had to walk the entire length of the ferry to help her up.

The story of another buddy, a normally dignified yet cumbersome sort of fellow who, whilst stomping home with a bag of fish and chips, fell over his front gate and was deposited in a flower bed, will cause me to erupt in a splatter of glee every time I think about it. My father running into the patio doors, my best friend tripping down her stairs and landing in a heap at the bottom; my sister – crouching and mid-wee – falling backwards down a grass verge into nettles after panicking when I told her there was someone coming (there wasn’t); my boss pretending to use his office chair as a wheelchair and promptly wheeling himself out of it; my pal drunkenly stumbling through a park at night and failing to notice the large pond in the middle of it – all these things make me ecstatically happy.


Sadistic, you say? Nay, Listener – tis not sadism. Tis merely a keen appreciation of slapstick comedy. We all laugh when Oliver Hardy is bashed in the face with a solid wooden plank, or when Stan Laurel is run over by a trolley bus – why shouldn’t we laugh at our friends and family members doing stupid things?

Life throws up many surprises. Some, like a leaky roof or syphilis, aren’t particularly pleasing – but others, like discovering the wit of our fellow humans, are magical. The world is full of funny people. You, my most dear Listeners, are hysterical. There is barely a liquid I haven’t dribbled painfully through my nose whilst reading some of your blogs or your comments to my posts. And, whilst some of those liquids were especially painful, I loved every second.


We are all used to comedians showing off their best jokes and their most sparkling wit – but it is the ordinary Colin on the street that makes me laugh the most. Overhearing a grumpy exchange between two old blokes in a pub can brighten my day tenfold.




What’s better than trudging through your daily commute with a thousand other sorry souls, every single one of you despising the human race and everything it stands for, and then having your train driver come over the speaker and say ‘Good morning everyone – as you can see, we’re going nowhere fast. I wish I could tell you why we’re stuck here, but I can’t, so instead I’m going to tell you that today happens to the be the 30th anniversay of the release of Wham’s astounding hit single ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’… and if someone could please wake me up before we go go, that’d be very much appreciated.’


I made myself laugh yesterday when I went to get in my mother’s car, which I begged her to let me use while she’s on holiday, and to which she eventually agreed against all her better judgement – and I discovered its battery was flat. Dead as a squashed badger. I left the lights on. Is this a royal pain in the arse, and one that will potentially cause me stress and grief and a ‘Rebecca, you can’t be trusted with anything’ comment? Undoubtedly. But I have to laugh. Particularly because I have no intention of telling my mother, and she will only find out by reading this blog post from her hotel in Greece.


Listener, there is sadness and sorrow and despair in the world. We know this. Anyone more than five years older than us delights in telling us this every single day. But there is also laughter. And Mr Williams may or may not have contributed to some of the laughs in your lives, but he has been the cause of a billion smiles over the world, and I’ve certainly enjoyed mine. Wherever he is, I hope he’s trying on his old Mrs Doubtfire costume, parading in front of a mirror, and chuckling.


Charlie Chaplin said ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted’. And, whilst it is undoubtedly easier to laugh on some days than others, this isn’t a bad mantra to live by.


82 thoughts on “Becky says things about … laughing

  1. Oh, welcome back Becky Says Things! I wait everyday for a post to appear and today I was rewarded! I love this post and this different take on the death of RW. Thank you so much for bringing a better perspective to us and reminding us that laughter is not only okay, but something to be coveted!

      1. Queen Becky who says things…..and her loyal consort Stickman…yes, I can definitely go with that…..not so sure I can go with the Dude thing since I am female? But definitely am in favour of you being the new royal family!

  2. Here, here – awesome man and I can think of no better tribute to his life of comedy than this post – which made me snort so loudly that my husband gave me a librarian-frown from the other side of the bed due to the fact I am not to be wound up before bed as I won’t settle for ages now 😀 Thanks Becky and good to see you back.

    1. Haha, the husband librarian frown!! I’m delighted I induced that! And even more delighted that you got a snort-laugh. I LOVE those.
      Thanks for reading and for the lovely comment 🙂

  3. Thank you Becky, you’re entries are brilliant and usually bring on a muffled giggle followed by a snort (embarrassing both in the classroom and on the morning bus ride…) You’re take on the loss of a comedy genius is funny and inspiring and reminds us that a man who spent his life making people laugh wouldn’t necessarily want people to make his death a statement on sadness. It’s so good to have you back in my inbox xx

  4. George Michael sang it best when he….No, no, no…I remember it well it was David Cassidy and that damn squeaky-TV-clean Partridge Family who sang it best…no, it was Mick…no? No. Not squeaky enough. Nor clean. So right so right so right…it was, indeed, that covey of antiseptic birds who warbled …”I Think I Love You”…

  5. Thank you for the laugh. No liquid of any type came out of MY nose because I’ve learned to put my drink down before I read your blog now. 😀
    Did you see that the Turkish deputy Prime Minister is asking women to stop laughing in public? Apparently it does nothing to preserve morality. I’m stumped to know how a laughing woman can be dangerous… or even how anyone could stop themselves from laughing. How sinister can you get? Brrr.

  6. I laugh so hard anytime someone falls. I just can’t help it, but if I try to stop it, it gets louder and more obnoxious and snottier. It’s not pretty, which just makes me laugh more.

      1. I still laugh when I fall. It’s usually pretty silly, like an invisible log on the sidewalk. I just imagine how dumb I must have looked and start laughing.

  7. Great post as always! I do love a comedy train announcement. Last week as we arrived in Victoria the driver said “And now, the end is near, and so we face the final station….please remember to take bags, books, phones, laptops, children, pets and your hopes and dreams with you when you leave the train, and I wish you a joyful Wednesday, London.” My Wednesday became joyful in that moment 🙂

    Another time I was with a friend from Singapore when the driver said “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now entering exotic Slough. Try and contain your excitement.” My friend turned to me full of touristy enthusiasm and asked “Oooh, is Slough exotic?” Erm, no. No, it’s not.

      1. I met my old Primary School teacher earlier in the Summer. She said that she was very thankful for the walk-in cupboard at the back of the classroom that she had to disappear into to snort-laugh without anyone knowing…

  8. Totally right (I say now I’ve calmed down at laughing at the expense of the people mentioned in your post!) And I adore the Chaplin quote! All very true 🙂

  9. Missed you. I was just going to write you and ask…”Where you at?!” And here you are spreading joy and laughter. I was WAY to serious today. Tomorrow I pledge to laugh, to make my students laugh, and maybe even fall over and embarrass myself. 😉

  10. Not long ago, you posted a video of a drunk sitting in a wall and, eventually, tumbling backwards into some bushes. You see it coming a mile away. Do you know how many times I’ve watched that and laughed? You think it’d wear off but it hasn’t! Once, my wife was looking over my shoulder and said, “That’s not funny.”

    Oh, yes, it is.

    1. Hahaha I have LITERALLY just watched that back!! And YES it’s funny. It’s so funny I immediately Youtubed ‘drunk people falling over’. I am going to be up for hours. 🙂

  11. Becky, this is just lovely. You always make me laugh. A lot of times, it is when you least expect it or when you shouldn’t be laughing, those can be the best laughs of all! Sorry about your battery. It’s good you can laugh at that. Why not? When you have a choice to laugh or cry, why not just laugh? Robin Williams would salute you with this post.

    1. Ahhh Amy my friend, thank you for your lovely comment. You’re right, spontaneous laughter is the best – because it’s often at something you know you shouldn’t be laughing at! x

  12. If we could bottle laughter, that excillerating feeling of joy, then I believe we would have the tonic of youth as drunk by the beautiful people of Death becomes her.

    It remains sad that Robin couldn’t drink from his own joy that he was spreading so widely.

  13. I love laughing and I love you and stick man and I am hearing that song from The Life if Brian in my head when the crucifixion guys are singing “always look on the bright side of life!!” In their wacky British accents of course.

  14. I’m sorry I’m not chuckling. It may be because I’m in pain, tired, or these thoughts:

    Things made much more sense for me when it broke that Robin Williams was dealing with Parkinson’s. Based on his widow’s statement, I sincerely believe this may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. My mother has Parkinson’s, and while she did some horrible things to me, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. The day the diagnosis came for her, most of my vengeance just melted; this wasn’t justice.

    More on-topic, another celebrity is quite alive and well with Parkinson’s: Michael J. Fox. But ol’ Rush “Is Right” (Wing) Limbaugh claimed his condition was a publicity stunt. Is that evil, or what?

    1. I know, the Parkinson’s thing made a lot of sense – it’s a grim, grim illness. Michael J. Fox is amazing, it just shows what you can do. I guess Robin Williams was already so damaged in himself, he didn’t think he had the strength to deal with it. Very, very sad 😦

  15. I had recent experience of trying not to laugh and resulting in tears spilling down my face and my shoulders convulsing from repressing hysterical giggles. It was during a “movie” premiere where the director/actor and entire cast where standing in the row behind me.

    It was not a comedy.

    The movie was horrible, but that experience was priceless.

    1. Excellent. I hope the streams of snot dangling from your laughing nose became a symbol of their film making ineptitude, and they have all changed jobs. You’ve done them a massive favour.

  16. Thank you for this awesome post. All those posts about Robin Williams and depression were really weighing me down. There’s just no escaping them!

    Also, I too laugh at my friends’ misfortune. If I didn’t, they’d think something’s wrong with me!

  17. 🙂 Agreed that laughter rocks and sadly, I get too wound up in Real Adult Life to do enough of it. Appreciate the reminder! And absolutely, Mrs. L’s backside was hairy like a gorilla.

  18. You rock Becky 🙂 superb post…your first one that I read and loved it… 🙂 you made me giggle here in the damn office sitting in front of my lappy with my boss strolling around… 😀

  19. AT LAST! Absinthe snorted backward through the nose!! I am an allergy sufferer no longer. AND I see pink frogs falling from the sky. I’ve re-listed your blog under “self-help.”

  20. Haha, I even just laughed once I got to the bottom of this message thread and read “You say things”. I really love the simplistic and dry feel of your blog. How do you build readership? I just started a humor blog, so I know it will take a lot more posts to get it going, but I would love to get your suggestions-

    1. Thank you 🙂
      I built readership by simply plugging away! I was lucky enough to get Freshly Pressed a couple of times, but only after I’d been at it for over a year. It doesn’t come easily, unfortunately! It’s very satisfying seeing your readership slowly creeping up (and you’ve gained an extra one in me 🙂 ), which is what encouraged me to keep going. Plus, I love making people laugh and I love writing, and this is a perfect platform to do that!
      Good luck and keep going 🙂

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