Can Laughter be an Antibiotic for Pain?

Have you ever had a horrible day? A day that’s so horrible it’s funny? What is it exactly that turns life’s problems into punch lines?

I had one of those horrible days.

Used with Permission by Keep Calm Studios
It started with my Weight Watchers meeting weigh in where I gained 2.4 pounds. Really? And there is not much more I can take off during a weigh it. I mean, I even flossed. I had to face the fact that the only thing I can still fit into are my high school earrings.

So, I go upstairs to my bedroom and it stunk. My neighbor’s dog was over and pooped on my white carpet. That would not be so bad, but apparently right after that, my Roomba (an expensive, automatic robot vacuum cleaner) started and smeared crap EVERYWHERE.

It’s said that comedy is tragedy, plus time. But, at the moment of viewing my crap-streaked carpet, if someone had made a joke, I would have shouted in anger, “That’s NOT funny.”

But, a few hours after cleaning up the carpet and my Roomba, I posted it on Facebook and got a lot of laughs. 


There was no choice but to see if I could find the hilarity in this. Was there any way to go from being a drama queen to a comedy queen?

I remembered back to when I was in my 20’s and dating comic Andy Kaufman. He broke up with me, leaving me angry and bitter. I couldn’t stop obsessing about being dumped, until one night I went onstage at the Hollywood Improv and made a joke about it. 

Maybe the best was, “I was in love and we had one thing in common, we were both in love with HIM. I worshiped the ground he walked over me on.”

As the audience laughed, the pain went away. That’s perhaps when I realized that laughing at something can be the antibiotic for pain.

Please post about your horrible day in the comments. 

What to write comedy material? Find your message? Write a speech? View free videos at The Message of you University here.


  1. On the advice of a friend, I used two very slim panty liners in my brand new violet jacket (from Nordstrom Rack) as sweat guards. I was very excited to wear this jacket to my job as a receptionist for a film company in Beverly Hills as it was the only clothing I owned that made me feel like I belonged in BH. I felt great about myself as I strolled around with the rich and famous on my lunch hour, until...I returned to work, went to the restroom and discovered that one panty-liner-sweat-guard was hanging half-way out my sleeve and the other was completely gone!
    Was is in Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf where I has stopped? Had David Schwimmer, behind me in line, seen one hanging out of my sleeve? Was it in the elevator as Mel Gibson went to his private cigar club located in my building? Or worse yet, on my desk chair and a co-worker or boss had been kind enough to dispose of it for me? I was devastated. That night I called my friend to tell her what I thought of her idea. She started to laugh. Like Judy, I screamed, "It's not funny!" She replied, "You know Orlinda, it really is." Much later I too began to laugh about it. It helped me realize that not only did my panty liner not belong in my armpit...I did not belong in Beverly Hills, which lead me to a location and job change for the better. Now, I use the story when speaking about changing humiliation into humor, embarrassment into enlightenment...your ha-ha into your ah-ha.
    Orlinda Worthington

  2. I had a couple of rough months and opted to join some church friends on a Christian women's retreat to get myself out of my funk.
    With so many of us gathered a shower schedule was created. I patiently waited my turn and strolled into the shower area at my given time.
    Thinking to myself I will scrub the misery of my yesterdays completely off me, I grabbed the washcloth and started at the top and worked my way to my toes vigorously covering every inch. As I completed my mission of rebirth I reached for my towel and my clean wash cloth dropped to the floor. In my shock I realized I had just scrubbed from face to foot with the last women's dirty wash cloth.
    Being a germaphobe you can imagine my disgust.
    Telling my roommate what had just happened she happily shared my demise with my fellow retreat attendees by the next morning, several of which made silly comments about my geemaphobic tendancies coupled with the used wash cloth. Gross.
    Later in the weekend I learned to laugh at myself as my experience seemed to be one of the highlights of everyone's weekend.

  3. To paraphrase a friend, "It felt good to hate a day so wholeheartedly." There is something clarifying about things that are so inherently bad, there's simply no other way they can be interpreted. Except as you said... after some time, with humor. Great post!

  4. Earlier today I was listening to a major talk radio station here in LA and thinking to myself, or maybe saying to the steering wheel, "Gee, these hosts are getting big bucks and they're talking from ignorance, snark, and knee-jerk reactions to the day's events.' One of the many things I like about you, Judy, is an absence of that. Your stories are the opposite of snark, ignorance, and knee-jerk reactions. Keep doing what you're doing! Just sign me...a fan.

    1. Thank you Flo - always great to read comments such as yours. Judy

  5. Judy, what can I say. SHIT HAPPENS. It just happens more to some of us. In fact, I was born under the sign of SHIT... more specifically SHIT ASCENDING. One of my clearest "AH SHIT" memories was dialing 911 after returning home to find my house broken into. Oddly, (I thought) both toilets had been disassembled. When the police arrived, and and I showed them the toilets, they explained that the intruder was looking for drugs. They wrote up a report and, before leaving said... "Oh... and whatever you do....don't use the toilets!.... we gotta send someone to dust for prints." Trust me, this wasn't the crime scene investigation crew from NCIS, arriving before the next commercial break. I hopped around waiting and praying for HOURS until someone could dust the porcelain. I got SO MUCH MILEAGE from the humor that my house was broken into three months later. I think they were sent by my agent to give me new material.

  6. after I made jokes about my ex (1st) infidelity and how, finally I dealt with it, it become so much easy to bear, indeed

  7. I had a horrible experience at a sleep clinic that just went on and on covering the whole night. I didn't see it as funny until I told it to my hairdresser. She couldn't stop laughing, so I told it to a few more friends and they couldn't stop laughing. By this time, I was laughing too. It's now one of my favorite stories.

    1. Great story Carol and exactly the way it works!


Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.