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This summer, while traveling through Africa (and planning on reading literature more germane to where I was travelling), I got hooked on Live From New York, a highly detailed account of SNL’s long history. I have been taking 3-hour classes with 18 other brave souls every weekend for the past month and a half. Thankfully, researchers have previously addressed this issue, in what must have been an absolute blast of a study to run and participate in.
Buchowski and colleagues from Vanderbilt University in Nashville recruited 31 males and 63 females aged 18–34 years to participate in the study. For 90 min, each pair viewed a series of film clips selected to evoke either a laughing response or a neutral response. There was a significant increase in energy expenditure and heart rate when participants viewed film clips selected to evoke laughter.

Despite the meager caloric benefits, I fully recommend that any of you with an interest in sketch or improv comedy take a stab at it. Now people more focus on the smileys and emoticons in different social medias like Facebook,twitter and Skype. I religiously watched every episode of In Living Colour and Saturday Night Live (SNL) and subsequently tried to re-enact some of the scenes and characters with my friends.
In that voluminous book (760 pages) I learned that many of my favourite comedians who at one time or another graced the SNL stage, including the likes of Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey, honed their art at The Second City comedy club. All participants were tested in friend pairs because laughter is far more likely to occur in social contexts and more likely to occur among friends than among strangers. The film clips aimed at evoking a neutral response included boring documentaries on England’s landscape and the like. During high school, my friends and I would dream about being SNL writers when we grew up, spending many math classes giggling over some ridiculous sketch idea we came up with. As soon as we were back in Toronto, I enrolled myself into the improv comedy program at Second City.

The study was conducted in a whole-room indirect calorimeter (which measures the heat created by those inside) equipped with an acoustic recording system. As studies have previously shown, mental work (like writing a thesis or studying for an exam) can elevate hunger. But I’ve also come home quite hungry and exhausted, which got me thinking: how many calories do we burn when busting a gut over something hilarious? While I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get tickets to the live show for a number of years, the closest I’ve come to checking that item off my bucket list was during a tour of the SNL studio while on a recent NYC visit. Sedentary consumption of comedies though is far less likely to do anything for (or against) your excess pounds. If the comedy added slapstick and dance, then you could certainly compete with Pilates etc.

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