Types of Laughs

September 18, 2010

When you’re a comedian, you get to try a sample platter of laughs on any given night.  Each comedian has his or her favorites, because each laugh from an audience member can give something away as to what they find funny about a particular joke or bit.  Its weird to think about but laughing and crying are the only two involuntary outward physical responses to mental stimulus, words interpreted by your brain processed into a jiggling of the body in a certain way.  That shows how powerful they are.  Here we go:

The Single Shot– Just one “Ha,” unaccompanied by any other laughter.  Signifies slight cleverness but not hilarity.  Usually elicited by “punchline-y” type jokes.

The Nose Whistle– Usually at the beginning of a laugh rollercoaster.  These are warm up laughs.  It sound is like someone is giving a short nose blow.  These laughs are usually present at a good set-up to a joke.

Guffaw– HA HA HA!  Found at the horizon of a great bit punchline.  This is the belly laugh.  Typically guffaws are brought on by a bit more raunchy humor, poop, sex jokes, etc.

Tee-Hee– A giddy laugh.  Hard to get out of a crowd as a whole.  Usually the Tee-Hee is organically created by the laugher more in anticipation of something rather than an external event.

Snort- There are two subsets of snorters.  Type 1 snorter: those who snort when they laugh all the time, which some people can find annoying.  Type 2 snorter: Prolonged laugh snorter.  The snort is only brought on after a good hearty laugh, and is an attempt by the laugher to breathe.  It is always very rewarding to get a type two snorter to laugh..

Oh!-  Brought on by a cringe joke.  Most “alternative” comedians rely heavily on this type of laugh.

Cackle– High intensity laugh that is usually brought on when a comedian hits something close to home.  “It’s like my wife and I have little battles over what setting the dishwasher goes on.”  “You hear that Harold it’s just like us!!!!!”  Cackle ensues

The Tongue Hiss– something is stupid but mildly funny and takes a while to be processed.  A lot of Mitch Hedberg-type jokes fall into this category.

The Raspberries– Short burst of air, lips together blowing outward.  Usually brought on by incredulity or disbelief.  Associate strongly with sarcasm.  “I’m telling you dude, the hooker paid me!”   Close cousin to the (Pssh).

Silent Shake– Created by a long and continuously funny story, usually without pausing for laughter breaks.  Since the laughs can’t escape from the mouth, the body has to adjust and release that energy.

Rapid Fire– Short bursts.  This laugh is in the arsenal of all people.  Only a few select people can do the machine gun giggle.  This is usually a laugh told by the joker, not the laugher.  It’s almost like a prompting laugh, as though the joke teller is saying, “here it is..start laughing.”

The Smile and Head Nod- I call this the laugh of comedians.  We rarely laugh at another comedian no matter how funny we know the joke is.  We’re always in a more critical mind-set.  So the smile and head nod should be viewed as an accomplishment. If you can get a roomful of comedians to do that, then you’re doing something right.

The Scream–  The best.  Pretty much like the audience is getting off on a joke.  Ladies are usually the owners of this laugh and it means the same thing.  You’ve related to them in such a way, that the joke elicits a high-pitch squeal.

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