The Lansing Laughter Club made an important discovery this week: laughter club sessions can be conducted entirely with puppets! It just so happened that my car got stuck on a patch of ice in another part of town right as laughter club was about to begin. So as I was laughing and making arrangements to get pushed out, the club met without me. They saw that I had left a big basket of puppets out for the meeting.
Now typically, when we've used puppets for laughter club, we've done one exercise called "puppet laughter." It's simple—everyone puts a puppet on their hand and mingles around laughing their puppets with one another. But this time, the club got creative and decided to do the whole meeting with puppets.
So many laughter exercises can be adapted to use with puppets. Examples are:
• The Wave—the puppets themselves are thrown into the air as the laughter wave is done
• Subway Laughter—the puppets crowd right up together and laugh hysterically as if they were on a crowded subway
• Bumper Car Laughter—the puppets ram into each other and bump around like they are bumper cars
• Static Electricity Laughter—the puppets try very deviously to shock each other with laughter
• Wide Mouth Laugh—the puppets open their mouths totally wide and laugh (puppets can do this much better than humans)
• Library Laughter—the puppets sneak around and quietly laugh together, trying not to get caught
• Drop Dead Laughing—the puppets flop down and roll around, pounding the floor and laughing out of control (even worse than the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll)
Furthermore, the puppets seem to love speaking in gibberish and laugh heartily at the gibberish jokes the other puppets tell. And, we found, they are excellent yoga breathers, as they breathe with their whole selves.
Now as you can see by the photo above, folks in the Lansing Laughter Club have no problem with shyness. But this little puppet experiment made me realize that using puppets more extensively for Laughter Yoga sessions with certain groups would work well. It allows people to be more confident about doing the silly laughter exercises because they feel it's not not them doing the laughing, it is their puppet. It helps them to play the character of a laugher instead of having to jump right in and be a laugher, particularly if this is a new role for them. It provides a back door to playfulness.
So we encourage you to get some puppets and get laughing! Even old socks will do—as long as they're not stinky. Ha ha ha!