Students, teachers discuss benefits of humor in light of National Humor Month


Eddie Sun and Helena Wang

National humor month was conceived as a means to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic value of humor. Laughter and joy, the benchmarks of humor, lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills, and an enriched quality of life. Celebrating National Humor Month in April, humor is a tool to relieve debilitating stress and burnout. For junior Abby Bontrager, humor helps relieve stress from schoolwork. 

“I would say that my stress at school is mostly formed by the amount of work and notes that we do in class. For example, one of my hardest classes would have to be precalculus because the content of that class is very difficult,” Bontrager said. “The stress and tension build up for me and the way that I relieve that (stress) is by laughing at something I find genuinely funny.”

Bontrager is not the only one who associates humor with relieving stress. According to the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and application of humor to affect positive change, about 39% of people decrease in stress by associating with humor. Similarly, according to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, laughter is a natural medicine that can improve your mood, strengthen your immune system and even combat stress, helping people’s well-being in tough and nerve-racking situations.

This school provides numerous ways for students to generate humor and relieve stress. One class is Themes of Literature: Humor. Bontrager decided this was a great chance to relieve stress during the day at school. 

“Humor class helps me relax a bit; it lets my mind wander. Because my other classes that day are pretty difficult, it helps me de-stress and get ready for my next class of the day,” Bontrager said.

According to senior Will Atteberry, humor class is not a difficult class. He said it is a class to enjoy and brighten his overall mood throughout the school day.

“It’s a nice break between your classes. This class is fun and it’s something you look forward to during school. It’s not like a regular English class where you sit down and write papers,” Atteberry said.

For senior Sarah Warf, humor class does not carry as much stress compared to other classes. She said it is a nice break to have between her other stressful classes.

“Humor class is not the full weight of a regular English class. Part of the aspect of humor is relieving stress and entertainment. Being able to break that (stress) down and watching some entertaining videos in your English class can definitely be stress relieving,” Warf said.

This new class can also help understand how the world around us is using humor. According to humor class teacher Grant Benefiel, this class focuses on forms of humor and how people use it to communicate with others. 

“In this class, we look at humor in a variety of different perspectives. We look at how effective humor is and how we use it to make an impact on the world. It’s an interesting class, not only can you learn English, but you can also learn some history and the science behind laughter,” Benefiel said.

Bontrager said humor class helps her perceive the different forms of humor people use, helping her out in social interactions.

“This class helps me recognize the different ways people are funny. I won’t just be like, ‘Oh, that person is funny,’ I would analyze why they were funny and different strategies they use to generate humor,” Bontrager said.

Another way to have fun and provoke laughter is ComedySportz. ComedySportz is a club that does improvisational comedy performances in which two teams of “actletes” compete against each other in a variety of games to help make the audience laugh.

According to ComedySportz sponsor James Peterson, it is fun for the players to challenge themselves to find new ways to make people laugh. He said the goal of this club is for students to enjoy themselves, along with the audience.

“There are different games that students play in matches, like head-to-head, scenic or gimmick games,” Peterson said. “These different performances help the audience participate and enjoy the show.”

ComedySportz is only one of the many different ways students can reduce stress and provoke laughter. Unfortunately, stress has been a theme at this school. Social Worker Sara Knoop sees students who deal with stress on a regular basis and are trying to figure out how to deal with it. 

“There are many students who come to see me about stress. Usually, I talk a lot about hanging out with friends and family because there’s usually laughter involved, which can relieve stress… There are also many studies saying that humor naturally combats stress. When you’re laughing or in a good mood, those endorphins go up and that helps with coping and relieving (stress). That’s why humor can be such an important way you deal with stress,” Knoop said.

However, people have their own type of humor. Bontrager said there are different ways people perceive humor and how they use it, making everyone unique.

“Each person has their own preferred humor genre and a lot of times when you encounter someone who has a very different sense of humor, you can’t always cater to that,” Bontrager said. “Humor class not only helps me find ways to make almost anyone laugh, but also sprinkles a little bit of joy in their day.”