Do people laugh less as they get older?
February 10, 2008 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Do people laugh less as they get older?

I noticed recently that I hardly ever laugh hysterically anymore. You know, that uncontrollable laughter where you can hardly breathe. I used to laugh like that a lot when I was younger and am wondering if your sense of humor becomes more discerning as you get older resulting in less laughter. For example, I remember howling at movies in college (OK, I'm sure the beer and pot had something to do with that) but these days if I find a movie funny, I tend to just think that it's funny rather than actually laughing out loud.

I can make my 3 year old laugh hysterically just by making a stupid face. It's a bit harder to make my 9 year old laugh like that but I can still do it with a few silly jokes. So a sense of humor certainly develops and becomes more discerning in early years. Does this continue throughout an entire life? Or am I just not exposing myself to enough good old fashioned fart jokes?
posted by gfrobe to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
i hear older folks laugh hysterically at the stupidest shit all the time!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:24 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

I actually think I laugh more than I used to. When I was younger, I was too self conscious to just let myself go. Although I did do it, I just didn't do it very often. I was also horribly self conscious of my teeth, so I never smiled to where my teeth showed nor did I laugh so that my teeth would show. Now I just don't give a fuck. So yeah, I would say that I laugh much more than I used to.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2008

Strictly anecdotal evidence, but my 80-something Dad laughs that way (face turns beet red, he gasps for air) over anything "naughty" on TV - MadTV, Saturday Night Live, etc. He actually catches more sexual innuendoes than I do.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2008

I laugh more now, but I cry more too.
posted by Dizzy at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2008

I think I laugh just as much as always -- but I laugh at different things now.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:12 PM on February 10, 2008

I laugh a lot more than I used to. Maybe you just need to hang out with funnier people.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:21 PM on February 10, 2008

perhaps the problem is that you're hanging out with your 3 and 9 year olds? I definitely don't laugh at stuff they would find funny anymore, but I still laugh out loud at a lot of stuff. When I was a kid I used to think my mom didn't have a sense of humor because it was always dad who laughed at garfield with us, and now I think that means my dad had a really dumb sense of humor for a grown up.

I have noticed I'm no longer ticklish, though.
posted by mdn at 1:34 PM on February 10, 2008

My sister is 18 and she rarely laughs out loud at movies. Often times I ask her "didn't you think that was funny" and she responds enthusiastically that it was but she just doesn't laugh out loud. She'll get all hysteric in conversation but just not during movies.

My mom has gotten a lot funnier as she has aged and it seems like she laughs more now than she did when I was younger. I'm not sure what that means.

My dad still gets teary eyed, can't breathe, and has laughing fits. It can be slightly embarrassing when out in public... not really :)
posted by collocation at 1:46 PM on February 10, 2008

I laugh less. I still have the occasional laughing fits at home with my family, but in public, nope. It was a deliberate choice when I was in my late teens - I felt really exposed and stupid when I laughed unrestrainedly in public, particularly when I was the only one doing so.
posted by b33j at 2:10 PM on February 10, 2008

I think I laugh as much or more. For example I will get into a teary laughing fit if I watch the 5-second kayak scene in this video. I probably worry my neighbours when I read But I always want to laugh more! Laughing and napping are like my two favourite things in the world.

So I'm going to go watch that video now.
posted by loiseau at 2:29 PM on February 10, 2008

I laugh more, and am generally happier, at 40 than I did and was at 20.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:33 PM on February 10, 2008

Perhaps the longer you live, the more funny things you have seen. You appreciate humor in more gradations. I feel this way about pain. When kids have pain it hurts more because they have nothing to compare it to. Just my personal theory, though.
posted by unknowncommand at 3:10 PM on February 10, 2008

At 38 I laugh a lot more than ever before, but it might just be YouTube or better cartoons or brain damage... the day isn't complete unless I've laughed at something 'till the tears in the eyes point.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:33 PM on February 10, 2008

Do you watch the movies in the same circumstances as you did back then..?

The comic Jimmy Carr was recently talking about humour on Simon Mayo's show on BBC Radio Five Live, and commented that if you watch a DVD of stand-up comedy on your own, you might just smile at the funny bits, whereas if you watched it with a friend you chuckle, and if you go to the show live, and watch it in a room full of people, you'll laugh till it hurts. Funny is social. I for one tend to watch stuff far more on my own than I did when I was younger, hence fewer lols.
posted by kxr at 3:59 PM on February 10, 2008

Yeah I don't think I laugh any less now that I'm in my early thirties than I did when I was in my teens. Then again I do have the sense of humor of a 13 year-old.
posted by ob at 6:49 PM on February 10, 2008

Thanks all. I guess my theory doesn't hold water and I just need to seek out funnier material to laugh at.
posted by gfrobe at 12:55 AM on February 11, 2008

I'm 44, and my brother and I laughed at this Kenny vs. Spenny episode so hard a few weeks ago it literally started to hurt to laugh more.
posted by Camofrog at 6:12 PM on February 11, 2008

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