Wednesday, March 3, 1999

UH hoping
to laugh its
trouble away

The school will observe
'Humor Day' March 10 to combat
negativity on the Manoa campus

By Helen Altonn


Academics on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus will be a laughing matter for at least a day.

UH President Kenneth Mortimer has declared March 10 "Humor Day" for the Manoa campus. The theme is "Laughing Matters: Jest for Health."

Richard Dubanoski, dean of the College of Social Sciences, conceived the idea last year when he and colleagues were "musing on the gloom-and-doom atmosphere hovering over the campus as a result of threatened budget cuts," said Rebecca Goodman, college coordinator and grants writer.

She said some administrators dismissed the idea, saying it wasn't a serious subject for an institution of higher learning.

"I must confess that we enjoyed a good giggle about that one," she said, pointing to many scholarly research journals and studies about humor.

Ann Sakaguchi, health promotions coordinator at the University Health Services, told Dubanoski humor is important for a person's health, self-esteem and well-being.

She said humor has been discussed for centuries as an antidote for illness. Gelotology, the study of the relationship between health and humor, began in the 1930s in the United States, she said.

"With stress, people don't realize as we get more and more negative thoughts, it's self-defeating. Eventually, we're the only ones who suffer because of negativity," Sakaguchi said.

So, despite some negative response, they went ahead with plans for a health and humor event featuring jokes, musical performances, comedy films and funny people.

Loretta LaRoche, known as "the Erma Bombeck of stress," was scheduled to give a humorous talk. However, she had to cancel her trip today because her mother is critically ill, Sakaguchi said.

She said the stress management specialist will speak here at the end of May.

Sakaguchi, Humor Day co-organizer, said laughter has the same benefits physiologically as a physical exercise.

"Fifteen major facial muscles and 16 major organs of the body, including the diaphragm and abdomen, get a thorough

ue8quote Who knows? Maybe 'Laughing Matters' will help repair some of Hawaii's broken funny bones.

Rebecca Goodman

College of Social Sciences coordinator and grants writer

workout, causing a rise in muscle activity, in respiration, heart rate and blood pressure."

Laughter temporarily boosts the level of immunoglobulin A found in saliva, which protects against infectious organisms, and it moves extra nutrients and oxygen into the body, she said.

A Jewish proverb says, "What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul," she noted.

Despite the benefits of humor, however, most adults laugh fewer than 10 times a day, compared to children, who on average laugh 400 times a day, Sakaguchi said.

Goodman said it's hoped "some of the antics, spoofs and nuttiness of Humor Day will encourage people on campus and from the community to incorporate humor into their lives to improve mental and physical

"Who knows? Maybe 'Laughing Matters' will help repair some of Hawaii's broken funny bones."

Bust a gut -- it's good for what ails you

Humor Day activities the University of Hawaii-Manoa:

BulletA half-mile "Jest Walk for Fun" starting at the University Health Services at 11:30 a.m.

Bullet"Stretch to Unstress," in front of Kennedy Theatre.

Bullet"Humor Walk Lane, strolling in an exaggerated and hilarious fashion," at the Diamond Head end of McCarthy Mall.

Bullet"Belly Laugh Row -- Hold your belly and laugh hard to feel the effects." In front of Bilger Hall.

Bullet"Mirth Wall" for jokes and cartoons by students, faculty and staff, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. near Campus Center.

BulletHealth Wall, with factual information on the benefits of humor on health. In front of Webster Hall.

Bullet"Wacky Dance Corner," with silly-style dancing, hosted by KTUH and the Rainbow Dancers and Ballroom Dancing Club, Ewa end of McCarthy Mall, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Bullet"Humor Rescue Units" -- Booths with information, advice, food, gadgets and so forth. Campus Center Mall and UH Bookstore will offer funny stuff such as humor books, audiotapes and videos for sale.

BulletStage performances from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Campus Center courtyard.

BulletFree funny films, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Hemenway Theatre.

BulletPresentations in the Campus Center courtyard from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. by Frank DeLima, Les Peetz and Billy Sage.

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