Does Comedy Have Therapeutic Potential?

Does comedy have therapeutic potential?

“Humor can provide the detachment necessary to survive any situation, even if only for a few seconds,” once said Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps, author of one of the most famous books on humor. psychological well-being.

Humor, laughter and comedy have been widely studied in the field of psychology. Nothing more than common sense, we can imagine that these social phenomena cause us pleasant sensations and positive consequences.

Therefore, humor is being investigated, laughter and comedy with a therapeutic approach. To illustrate this phenomenon, below I will tell you about a study on the therapeutic power of comedy in patients undergoing dialysis treatment, and then I will tell you about the therapeutic potential of comedy.

Watching comedy movies during dialysis

A Brazilian research group set out to evaluate the effect of watching comedy movies during dialysis on anxiety and depression levelsquality of life, analysis results and complications arising from dialysis.

This study was carried out keeping in mind that comedy films could provide humor and, therefore, relaxation and well-being. Therefore, a necessary condition was that the films were specifically comic, in addition to having good reviews and adequate humor, to increase the likelihood that they would provoke laughter and good cheer.

In this way, their hypothesis was that these films could function as a non-pharmacological complementary practice beneficial for mental and physical health, in the same way as herbal therapy, meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises and of simulated laughter.

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To test it, they divided 60 patients into two groups: an experimental one, to which they were shown 12 films; and another control, which is the name given to the group in which the intervention evaluated in the studies is not applied, that is, the film was not shown to this group. Both groups were evaluated in all the aspects that they wanted to study, before and after the screening of the films, in order to see if changes occurred.

Study results

The results of the study were favorable, except for the results of the analyses, in which no significant differences were found between before and after watching the films. The following results were achieved in the experimental group:

Similar results in other investigations

This research is not the only one that has found benefits of humor for mental and physical health. For example, there was another investigation that analyzed how emotional experiences are lived by comedians, evaluating how having a space for emotional expression in public influences. A relationship was found between doing comedy, having coping strategies and having a therapeutic space.

However, It had a very small sample of people, and it would be interesting to continue evaluating along these lines. On the other hand, the use of humor within psychological therapy has been studied on several occasions, obtaining positive results in terms of patient improvement and strengthening the relationship between therapist and patient.

Furthermore, there is a non-profit organization called Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (in Spanish Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor). Its objective is to continue investigating the different uses that humor has on our general well-being and health; as well as disseminating this beneficial resource in all areas of life.

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It should be noted that there has been a therapy for years, whose effectiveness has been more than proven, based on humor, which is laughter therapy. This method uses laughter intentionally to achieve both physical and psychological benefits.

Comedy and humor as therapy

From the results of these studies and methods it can be concluded that humor and comedy have significant therapeutic potential. Making an intervention based on comedy has numerous advantages, starting from the fact that it is relatively easy to carry out. (We have already seen that it works to simply show good comedy movies). Furthermore, it not only works on a psychological level, but also on a physical level, since they are more interconnected than you might think at first. And all thanks to two positive characteristics or consequences of comedy: laughter and coping.


Comedy involves laughter, at least in cases where it is good. Laughter is a physiological response that our body gives to express certain emotions, mainly joy. This natural mechanism has benefits on a psychological and physical level:

Way of coping

Comedy can serve as a model for our sense of humor, as seeing what makes others and ourselves laugh, we may want to repeat it. A sense of humor is a personality characteristic that works as a coping strategy for problems..

However, not all styles of humor are good ways to cope. There are four types, the first two being adaptive or positive, and the last two being maladaptive or negative:

In this sense, it is important to take some care when using comedy and humor in therapy, since it would be necessary to select only content from adaptive humor styles, and not reinforce maladaptive ones and create more problems for them.

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Likewise, if done appropriately, it is very interesting to use adaptive humor and comedy as techniques within therapy. In this way, we can create a stronger bond with the patient, serve as a model of humor style and can help them learn this strategy for coping with problems. In the end, life must be faced with humor (adaptive, of course).