Is laughter really the best medicine?
Allen Klein thinks so. So much, in fact, that he makes his living showing the relationship between laughter, healing and just generally feeling better about yourself.
His telephone answering machine even tells callers to leave a message after the laughter, not the beep.
The self-proclaimed "jolly-tologist" and author will bring his program to Lawrence Memorial Hospital next week in two public forums.
The first, called "Bye-Bye Burnout: Lighten Your Work With Laughter," will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the LMH auditorium. The second, "The Healing Power of Laughter," will be from 11 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. Wednesday in the LMH auditorium.
Both seminars are free and open to the public. They are sponsored by the LMH Endowment Assn. and the LMH Auxiliary.
Klein said he made up the term jolly-tologist, but the name does have its roots in fact.
"It actually came from the term `gelos' which I think is Greek for laughter," Klein said. "So technically I'm a gelotologist but no one knows what that means. But since I became a jolly-tologist I've heard of other people out there called `joy-ologists' and `enthusi-ologists.'"
Klein has a master's degree in human development. His master's thesis became his first book, "The Healing Power of Humor."
He has spoken all over the United States since he started delivering his message about taking humor seriously and serious things humorously seven years ago.
He speaks to several kinds of groups, he said. "But 95 percent of my lectures are given to people in the health-care field. One, because I think they are really stressed out and, two, they are a great audience and they are open to participating."
He also has written "Quotations to Cheer You Up When the World is Getting You Down," and publishes "The Whole Mirth Catalog."