By Abigail Schoenecker At 12:05 p.m. every Monday, people show up in front of the courthouse, laugh for 15 minutes, partake in a few pleasantries and then disperse. If you’re lucky, you might even see some very confused lawyers gazing down at the jovial faces.
They call themselves the Joy Laugh Club. The youngest participant, at least on days when she is able to laugh along, is 22-year-old Tammy Elwell. After reading about this gathering of giggles in the Reader Weekly two years ago, Elwell, who is studying massage therapy at Lake Superior College, decided to check it out. She went with her friend LeAnn Bollin, a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
When they first got there they didn’t know what to expect.
Elwell said there weren’t many club members there to begin with, then at 12:05 on the dot, a group of people showed up. The returning members of the Joy Laugh Club were glad to have new recruits but after the initial excitement, it was time to get down to business and laugh.
“You just take a deep breath in and you laugh,” Elwell said. The group feeds off of one another’s laughter. In 15 minutes, they go for two rounds of laughing.
Her first time with the club won her over. As soon as one older man erupted in “machine gun bursts of laughter” and the woman next to her leaned over and said, “You’re a natural,” she was hooked.
Elwell attends whenever she is able to, usually on holidays. She said there is a deeper meaning to the club than the absurd fun of laughing for no reason.
“Laughter is a massage for the inner organs,” Elwell said.
Bollin, who has gone back a few times after her first visit, couldn’t agree more. Even though she was skeptical at first, Bollin believes that laughter is the best pick-me-up.
“I thought there would be more to it. I thought I had to have a reason to laugh,” she said. Bollin definitely changed her mind and said she would go back to laugh at nothing again.
Elwell wants to share the laughs with more people and plans on starting a club at Lake Superior College. She has already put on a laugh meeting for an icebreaker at orientation at UMD. Bollin, who runs orientation, asked her to come in and organize it.
Ryan Dyksman, a senior at UMD, participated in both the Joy Laugh Club Monday get together and the orientation laugh-along on campus. From what he observed, it takes more than just some hearty chuckles to be successful.
“It only works if you want to do it,” he said. This could be why laughing in front of the courthouse is such a success and why everyone that Elwell has gone with plans on going back for more.
Laughing in a group of strangers for no reason whatsoever would probably be weird for most people, but when Elwell talks about it, it seems like the easiest and most natural thing in the world.
“You meet, you laugh, you leave.”