The Sozo Group caught up with Ha Ha Men's Improv & Sketch Comedy Troupe to learn more about how laughter personally benefits their souls.
Written by Jess Olivito, Contributing Writer
We've all heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine. And according to all the medical journals, there's lots of evidence to support that laughing does many good things for the body. From improving job performance to the role it plays in intimate relationships, laughter is vastly underestimated. Psychology Today mentions that it "synchronizes the brains of the speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned to one another."
Laughter establishes - or restores - a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the "physical" benefits of laughter? They may simply be the result from the social support that laughter itself stimulates. But when I sat down with Ha Ha Men to get their "take" on laughter, I was blown away by their personal testimonies as to how laughter (and this group) speaks to their souls.
Actress and improviser Angela Beckefeld was the first one in the group to chime in, “I think that both Dave Ebert and I can fully relate to this topic. We're both people who've dealt with pretty heavy, chronic depression in our lives. As a result Dave's journey, he has become very involved with suicide awareness, as both of us have admitted to having suicidal thoughts in our pasts. For 5 years, I was in need of medication to control my depression, but as I got involved with this comedy troupe, and started using essential oils. I was then was able to wean off of my prescriptions. And today, neither Dave nor myself need the meds anymore. For us, performing together has been the real life saver. There’s just so much darkness in the world and this team brought us the joy that we so desperately needed and cling to.”
At that point, funny man Jim Bushy chimed in to give his take on the therapeutic benefits of this group:
“We really are very, very proud of our Angela. She's not the same person who came to us a couple of years ago. She's really blossomed since then and that is just gorgeous to see. She was always incredibly talented and funny..but beyond that - her whole countenance has improved since being part of this group.”
Angela will be the first to tell you that she never thought she'd be free from medication, but she's incredibly grateful that she's been healed by God and allowed to work with this comedy team. "It's truly amazing how much funnier I am now."
Ha Ha Men co-founder Ryan McChesney chimed in with more great observations: “For me, the team helped me break free from so many insecurities. I've found comedy to be the way that I can let everything come out. Up on stage - with all these different emotions and characters - I'm allowed to utilize so much creative energy. Honestly, this group is total therapy for me and has been very healing. Often, I find that my best performances happen on my worst days. The craziest gig I ever did was actually at my dad’s funeral where I got up and impersonated him. My family's reaction was priceless; they were laughing right along side of me about all the fond memories we shared of him. That was a really, really special day and I just know it was just the best gift I could ever give my dad.”
At that point, co-founder Dave Ebert shared his sentiments about what this group has done for him. “One of my favorite quotes is something that Michael, Jr. said, 'Laughter is the tangible evidence of hope.' And for me, that’s a huge source of healing. If you can laugh, then you can heal. If you’re not able to let go, for even just a moment, to smile or laugh, then you’re in need of a lot of healing. For me, laughter is incredibly healing. Throughout my depression, I used to use humor as a way to hide myself, but then it was revealed to me by God that performing, at first, was just a place that allowed me to get the value I needed to go on. In short, I used to do comedy to hide me, but now I'm doing comedy to reveal Him.”