Tag Archives: laugh institute

on laughter and control


Laughter is a loss of control.

— Walter Ness, Energy Theater

laugh more often

stolen / borrowed photo of Danny DeVito laughing

maybe i just need to laugh a little more often

ya know?


Me and Marco as Beware the HaberdashMarco came out to Boston this week from Seattle and i have to say — i don’t think i’ve laughed so hard for a long, long time

and i think for the amount of time he was out this way we actually laughed more often than i normally do on your average daily or weekly basis


i feel a little better because of it, too

and it was all about completely silly shit, too

we didn’t need to go to a comedy club or listen to CDs of stand-up comedy in the car or anything

i think we’re just both imbued with this kind of comedic outlook on life

certain perfectly inane sequences of events can set off huge bombing guffaws of hilarity at times — and i know a lot of it is kind of just in our minds, if you know what i mean — its a particular sensibility that you collectively cultivate with a friend or a small group of colleagues or acquaintances that quite naturally develops and grows within the space and experience of the relationships we build in life — and its something unique to just certain friends, just certain groups of people in your life, based on the time you’ve spent and the amount of discussions you’ve shared over the years

sometimes just a look can set it all off, ya know?

a knowing nod

you know the deal, right? 

as a friendship builds — as any relationship builds, crumbles, ebbs and flows — the mutually-shared experiences and the things you talk about build up a sort of pre-verbal vocabulary that is very much based on a private language that each of us develops without a need for words

and its a phenomena that can really only occur with live presence

at least that’s my feeling about this concept

here’s Marco — a photo i took of Marco — when we lived out at The Church Street Apartment in Watertown back in the mid-90s


the photograph could be called A Portrait of Marco with a Shovel, Plastic Watering Can and a Guillotine — that’s the title i would probably give it if i were including it in an exhibition in some local café, full-well knowing that nobody would purchase the photo or anything, but that coffeeshop-going viewers might spend a few minutes looking and fabricating their own interpretation of the private language Marco and i were using on that rather mild, Autumn day

you can just see it in the photograph, too, right?

the expression on his face isn’t due to a conversation we were engaged in, i wasn’t holding up and squeezing a rubber duck or anything like that, in the way they would at a Sears Portrait Studio back in the 70s

there’s a familiarity between us — between me, as the photographer, and Marco, my subject here — that you can feel if you really tune in to the warm details of the end image — i don’t know if you’d consider the photograph to feel casual or friendly, but you can see a certain kindness being expressed by Marco

i believe you can’t develop that depth of emotional connection and feeling without actual, live, human presence

when Marco and i wrote, recorded and performed as Beware the Haberdash back at about that time — in the early to mid-90s — i know that our connection through the music-makingour connection: through vibration and rhythm; through composition and improvisational, collaborative interplay; through talking about the music or planning for a show — our connection dove into a far deeper subconscious zone where speech, instruction, conversation — all of these things — were no longer necessary for us to actually communicate with each other through our shared live and present space 

its a rather fascinating phenomena

and its a phenomena that i am currently trying to better understand through my research into another very closely-related, uniquely human phenomena — the phenomena of laughter

my own personal beliefs — as informed by both my currently-collected, active research and from my gut — indicate that laughter, like poetry, is both immediately mutually-understood by a group of people at the higher, signal level within a given social context and is also involved in such a complex intersection of intellectual, cultural and physiological systems that simultaneously shatter that understanding due to all of the actual environmental and behavioral life experience we bring into the live and present social moment

to back up just a little bit here, let me first establish a background concept, a simple definition, if you will, that helps set the stage in a better light

humor and laughter exist as a living, breathing,
organic and found cybernetic, social system

its a system that learns and grows and develops and ebbs and flows just like any relationship that gets established between any 2 or more organisms in the world

at one point in human history — one could guess from the research done to-date — laughter evolved

we developed a way to laugh

we most likely started laughing as a human beings for the verySame reasons that any species begins to mutate or discover a new special skill or feature — we started laughing as a means for survival — as a way to endure certain psychological tensions that come embedded in our earthen, natural environment or that pulse within our sociological and cultural ecosystems

laughter came before humor

there’s no chicken and the egg that i can fathom from what we know about the theories and vast, eclectic academic areas that touch upon the phenomenas of humor and laughter, which include:

  • humor theory;
  • laughter theory;
  • tickle theory;
  • comedy;
  • psychology;
  • philosophy;
  • sociology;
  • neurobiology;
  • phenomenology;
  • language and linguistics;
  • natural selection and the theory of evolution;
  • cybernetics;
  • conversion, translation and interpretation;
  • and energy;


unfortunately this blog veryMuch reflects the rather powerful subconscious manner in which i produce and pursue my work as an artist, designer and performer — bits and pieces come to me in a rather random and sometimes chaotic fashion — i believe in chasing my inspiration in the actual moments when she whispers to me, so this means many pieces will feel undone, messy, but hopefully vital and real { or at least as real as you can get on the internetz }

so i leave you here with my thoughts from today to reflect upon

much of my previous thoughts on these subjects can be found on a myriad of other websites i publish to — for more on this thread of research and thought on laughter, humor and the areas in-between, check out Laugh Institute up on the webz — or you can always check back here to poke around some more and read up on my progress on the laughterLife, my continued experiments, writings, design and research into laughter as a human phenomena

Check out Beware the Haberdash online

laugh research in progress


i am currently conducting more research into laughter and human awareness

the latest laugh study @ Laugh Institute

our current sessions at the Laugh Lab include both interview-based conversations to record the laughterLife personal laugh history of each participant as well as a video and audio capture of your laugh samples to augment our laugh databases

for those interested in participating, please email me at laugh@laughinstitute.org with the subject ‘Laugh Study’

although we are trying to arrange to meet in-person for those participants living and working in the Boston area, we are also open to conducting phone and virtual sessions as well

the entire interview and laugh capture process takes between an hour and an hour and a half


some definitions to consider


i look back lately — at my previous research and active design work at Dynamic Media Institute

i am re-opening my book — my design thesis book, that is — to once again take a look inside my veryOwn openContainer, and my intention to continue my investigative research into laughter, cyberSurrealism and the human experience swells and motivates me with a newfound retrospective clarity that i just frankly wasn’t ready to tackle back then

as i delve deeper into the investigation — an investigation that brings me to new areas of dangerous confrontation and heightened, intense self-awareness — i ready myself and my future audience of readers and participants with these 3 crucial definitions stolen from — or, uhm — cited from the Wikipdedia as core concepts for your consideration — important terms of reference regarding the underlying purpose and nature of my work


Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception andcognitive reaction to a condition or event.
Read more about Awareness on the Wikipedia

Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentience,awarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]
Read more about Consciousness on the Wikipedia

Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”,[1]which can be trained by meditational practices[1] derived from Buddhist anapanasati.[2]

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati,[3] “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassanasatipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.

Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorderanxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Read more about Mindfulness on the Wikipedia


All preceding definitions from this blogPost came from the infamous Wikipedia out there on the webz. Go check it out { as if you’ve never heard of it, right? } and don’t forget to occasionally donate a bit to keep the project funded and smoothly movin’ along — we all learn soOOoOoo much from our little Wikipedia that could now, don’t we?




introducing Random Acts of Laughter


OMFGawd! — today ranked in as one of the funniest, funnest April Fool’s Days EVER!

My very good friends and colleagues out at MobiquityRachael Stedman and Skylar Roebuck, the mad fucking geniuses that they are — took my rather broken dregs of an initial attempt to prototype a ‘Laugh Hotline’ concept I tried to throw together at Tufts Hackathon 2013 and really made it into something functional, fun and quite hilarious — i mean, this shit is FUNNY!

check out Random Acts of Laughter

Just enter your name and the target — er, ehm — recipient phone number you’d like to send a random laugh to and through the magic code expertise of Idea Squad Brain Trust { aka, Rachael Stedman, Skylar Roebuck and I … and any other Mobstrz that join our all powerful forces of hackage } the RAoL back-end servers randomly selects one of our hand-crafted audio laugh pre-recordings { generaously supplied by Laugh Institute } and sends it over with some light salutations to help brighten somebody’s life for a few ephemeral mobile moments

After just one day of our 2013 April Fool’s Day Beta Launch we’ve already received a barrage of random accolades and praise — just take a gander at what people are saying about Random Acts of Laughter:

One receiver of a random laugh immediately replied, ‘Oooh my goodness! I just sent this to myself and almost lost it — fun for the whole family!’

Another unsuspecting participant in our surprise mobile laugh intervention chimed in by saying, ‘Just had some moron/creep call my cell phone and leave a voice mail message. It was a Quincy number so I didn’t answer it. The message was just maniacal laughter. Creepy—like a deranged clown. Probably some idiot calling random numbers on his day off from Walmart.’

And finally, yet another delighted and mirthy victim of Random Acts of Laughter says, ‘Lolz!  So funny!’

Looking forward to more incredible evidence of the success, joy and positive energy we’re all feeling out here at the Idea Squad Brain Trust, the Laugh Institute and Mobiquity

Random Acts of LaughterMake ’em laugh

recent developments | open container | laugh institute


i need to run into MassArt early today — got to station myself for a day of Design for a client while also splintering myself off to accomplish a variety of important tasks that add up to some part + portion of my near-future life

don’t have a ton of time to put this ‘out there’, but besides my client work i am mostly focused on putting together 2 shows right now

the first — fauxShow — goes down on Saturday, April 23rd { yep, that’s the veryNight before Easter, purposely planned as the perfectly symbollic inBetween day in certain Biblical terms, right? the day that Jesus Christ Himself, according to the legend, was a little MIA — somewhere between a moved rock + a hard place — somewhere between death by crucifixion + resurrection — and this is why, in less ambitious terms at that, that i picked this date for the fauxShow — that + it coincided with the veryBeginnings of this year’s amazing Boston Cyberarts Festival } — i’ve enlisted the artists + artwork + now its just a matter of putting on a good show { which seems to come quite naturally, thank you }

the second — forensicEvidence — goes down on Tuesday, May 17th at The Bakalar Gallery at MassArt — this is basically my little thesis show — a show within a show, sort of parasitic in many ways, right? { although i’m not quite sure yet, perhaps its symbiotic, but it just doesn’t feel that way num, num } — i’ll blog more on that later, i’m sure … but for now let the record state that Carol has been helping me with the bottles for my pre-mythology-building + now quite conceptually infamous excerpt from what i am now rebranding as ‘a scene from laugh institute’ { website to come, domain already registered, thank you } — a collection of bottles, bottles of contained laughter, laughter that the viewer-participant helps release + pseudoScientifically analyze — and this is just one of several ‘exhibits’ on the list of collected evidence at my microCurated contribution to MFA Thesis Show 2011 { Show III } — i hope to see you there ;]