My grandparents owned a bungalow colony in the Catskills where I spent every summer until I was 11. The mothers and the kids would be there for the entire season and the fathers would come up on the weekends.
While it was nice to see our fathers, the one car we waited for eagerly was Nat Goldstein’s. Nat was a true zany who made everyone laugh. He wore a variety of costumes to entertain us. One was red long-johns which he wore with a pith helmet and a police whistle hanging from the crotch (no one dared go over to blow the whistle). One day he came out wearing a white dress bulging at the stomach and carrying an open umbrella. We all gleefully followed him to the road where he hitched a ride to “the hospital.” We waited until Nat came trudging back up the road with his new baby, a doll borrowed from his daughter Susan.
Nat Goldstein was my hero. I love to laugh and to make people laugh. It’s part of my Jewish/family heritage. Jews and humor go together. Producer David Steinberg says “Entertainment is always seized by the downtrodden and disenfranchised….that was Jews back in the day.”
Whenever my family would get together my brother, cousin and I would start telling jokes. One joke would engender another. Even if we all knew the punch line, we still eagerly anticipated it and laughed heartily.
As a bonus, there are health benefits to laughter. Research at the Mayo Clinic confirms that a good laugh has great short- and long-term effects. When you laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can boost immunity, lower stress hormones, decrease pain, relax muscles and, they say, prevent heart disease.
So on National Joke Day and every other day of the year, tell a joke or listen to one. It’s good for you and doesn’t cost a cent.