I can’t imagine there is anyone alive today that has recollection of the last pandemic. The spread was slower and so was the response. Thankfully those on the frontline; the scientific and research community, the health and emergency workers and journalists continue to keep us safe and bring us the information that we need in a timely way so that we can do our role in society and stay home and keep each other safe from the spread to the most vulnerable. Thank you by the way. You are more than just essential, you are extraordinary. How lucky are we that we have organisations such as the World Health Organization and global philanthropy foundations such as The United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, that can act swiftly in a global way where the most in need are seen to. Without borders, without prejudice. What I have understood from this crisis is that a pandemic doesn’t discriminate based on social status, race, orientation or religion. And that it can have an effect on everyone’s livelihoods. The financial implication to all is hard, and the mental health effects that will surpass the pandemic will be astronomical. It has made me and all here at Jerry’s House reflect on what is important, what matters in society right now, and how can we support each other and stay connected. In this age of shutdowns, lockdowns, social distancing, no hugs, no comedy clubs, no get togethers, no sporting events etc. it can be hard to stay positive. But in this time of boundaries, it’s important that we do whatever we can to stay healthy and happy. To be resilient and kind. To find the ways we are connected. I’m reminded of a speech Anupam Kher gave at the 2017 Legacy Awards Induction where he says that laughter is the universal language. ( Legacy Awards Link ), and Lochie Graham our founder, talks about how everyone laughs and it breaks all boundaries. ( Project TV Link ) Laughter is the connecting key between us all that not only makes us happy but can build bridges where we can’t see them. I’m also reminded of the science behind the effects of laughter from Associate Professor Lee Berk at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, “Experiencing joyful laughter reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure and elevates a person’s mood...the act of laughing increases endorphins, sending dopamine to the brain. This provides a sense of pleasure and reward, and the immune system also functions better." The penny dropped for me when I read some of the early guidelines released by the Australian Government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The ‘to do’ list was really helpful, and on that list was ‘do things that help you relax and stay happy’. It got me thinking that Jerry’s House has something to offer, by inserting random acts of laughter (RAOL) into people’s lives we can stay connected, boost our immune system, and offer some much needed relief through a time of high-anxiety, isolation and lockdown. The RAOL campaign is simple. People film themselves, or their family, or their pets (or anything really) doing something hilarious. They upload it to their social media page and challenge three friends to do the same. By making a small donation $2 (the cost of a toilet roll) you can also make a big difference to those impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Jerry’s House exists to support people affected by disease, displacement and disability and achieves this at grass roots level. The World Health Organisation (WHO) works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. They are leading the way to find a cure; they’re helping those on the front line and providing support to people most affected. This is why we want to support them through RAOL. Norman Cousins once said, ‘Laughter is the best medicine…’, and I agree. It may not be the cure for covid-19, but in a time of great need laughter does have a significant positive impact. So, I’ll take that medicine, and lots of it!
To find out more about RAOL or to make a donation go to www.raol.org I would like to finish by repeating the sentiment of our founders Lochie Graham and the Late Jerry Lewis, in saying that the world needs laughter. It needs comedians. And with their shows shut down, with the comedy festivals closed, we need to hear them now more than ever. It takes courage to put yourself out there, let yourself go, make yourself vulnerable in order to make someone else laugh, to make them happy even if it is just for a moment. Lochie calls them heroes. He believes we can all overcome this because “laughter spreads faster”. I do too. So, stand up, or fall over, or wear a funny hat, or your mum’s bathers over your pyjamas. Be you, be funny, be kind, and share it. Pull out your funny bone and let’s boost our immune systems and stay connected. In love and laughter,
Brenton Killeen Global CEO Jerry’s House Ltd.