Arts and Entertainment

Laugh for Life comes to Admiral Theatre for 3rd year of comedy fighting cancer

National headlining comedians Peter Gray (top left), Eric Haines (top right), Charlie Weiner (bottom left) and the Great Cris Larsen (center) join forces with local jokemaker Ardis Morrow and more to Laugh for Life. - Courtesy Photos
National headlining comedians Peter Gray (top left), Eric Haines (top right), Charlie Weiner (bottom left) and the Great Cris Larsen (center) join forces with local jokemaker Ardis Morrow and more to Laugh for Life.
— image credit: Courtesy Photos

Take two giggle pills and call me in the morning.

We all need sanctuary at some point in our lives. Sometimes, often times, when the going gets tough, we’d do ourselves well to sit back and laugh.

That’s a lesson that local comedian/community organizer/famed feel-gooder Cris Larsen knows well. It’s that same thought that prompted him to create Laugh for Life — an annual event which brings together a lineup of comedians and feel-good performers for an evening of fundraising which benefits the American Caner Society through the Relay for Life campaign. This year features national headliners Charlie Weiner, Eric Haines, Peter Greyy and The Great Cris, in addition to Stuart James Hagar, local Rotarian and real estate agent Ardis Morrow and more July 19 at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton.

“This is the biggest amalgamation of talent ever on stage at the Admiral Theatre,” Larsen said of the third annual event. “They’re all believers in the cause, that’s the bottom line of all this.”

A few years back, Larsen was at the hospital visiting his 21-year-old nephew who had been diagnosed with a form of cancer when the idea for Laugh for Life spawned.

His nephew was undergoing heavy treatment and wasn’t expected to overcome.

“Basically they had told him to get his affairs in order,” Larsen recalled. “You don’t tell a 21-year-old to get his affairs in order ... especially one that’s just married and is basically at the beginning of his life.”

Soon after the dire news was received, Larsen was at his nephew’s bedside, cracking jokes and poking fun, hoping to lighten the atmosphere of an incredibly sullen situation. It must have been one of the toughest acts the 20-year-veteran comedian has ever had to follow.

But it’s one of the things Larsen does best.

“People are put on the planet for all different reasons,” he noted. “I love the stage, but I think one of the things I’ve been put on this planet for is to bring solace to grim situations ... I can’t be a doctor and I’m not a scientist, but I can make people laugh.”

It’s an expression heard time and time again, but sometimes it seems laughter truly can be the best medicine.

HUMOR THERAPY

There is no available scientific evidence that supports claims that laughter can cure cancer or any other disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

In a world of rapidly evolving scientific and medical research, the quality of a good, hearty, pure belly laugh and an optimistic state of mind can be easily overlooked. But the benefits of humor therapy are no joke.

Take for instance, the compelling case of a man named Norman Cousins.

Cousins is well-known for his socially pointed journalism and for serving as editor at the Saturday Review for more than 30 years. But he’s also told one of the most famous stories of humor therapy in the 21st century — his own.

Detailed in his book “Anatomy of an Illness” Cousins was diagnosed with a severe form of heart disease and told he had little chance of surviving. A man with a “fast-growing conviction that a hospital is no place for a person who is severely ill,” he moved out of the hospital and into a hotel, trading the heavy drug prescription for a regimen of mass amounts of Vitamin C, positivity, love, faith, hope and laughter induced by Marx Brothers movies.

Surprisingly, it seemed to work. The laughter helped with the pain, he said, while the vitamins and positive state of mind helped stave off the disease.

Cousins would eventually die of heart failure in 1990, but that was 26 years after doctors had first diagnosed his heart disease and offered the grim projections for his survival. Therefore, his case is conflicting.

Turning his focus from journalism to medicine and becoming an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles later in life, Cousins would go on to study at-length the biochemistry of human emotions and the role that the power of belief plays in the process of healing.

Hospitals today employ the use of humor therapy, both in the passive form of funny movies or stand up comedy as well as in the spontaneous form of finding humor in everyday life.

It should go without saying that humor won’t be hard to find with a line up of nationally headlining comedians July 19 at Laugh for Life.

Laugh for Life brings together national headlining comedians Charlie Weiner, Eric Haines, Peter Greyy and The Great Cris Larsen along with Stuart James Hagar, Ardis Morrow and more starting at 7 p.m. July 19 at the Admiral Theatre, 331 Pacific Ave. in Bremerton. For tickets or more information, contact the Admiral Theatre at www.admiraltheatre.org or (360) 373-6743.

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