Part I: The Physiological
It begins with the object, which could be a funny face, a dirty joke, or your buddy making a sound with his armpit. Then, from the diaphragm, there is a clenching of the muscles of the stomach, very much as if one were coughing or puking out his guts from drinking too many Miller Lites. Instantaneously, the person shoots out of his mouth an amount of air from his stomach. If it was a pleasant thing he saw but not rather funny—orgasms, chocolate, gas—it might only be enough air from his guts to bring the ends of his mouth up, or at least one end up. If it was particularly funny, it will come out as an embarrassingly small puff of air, with maybe a note to it, like Huh or Hoo or Hoow (the conscience always takes control of the muscles at the last minute of expulsion, as if trying to stop the laughter or its embarrassment, so that the note will always begin with the letter H). If the object was indeed very funny, like a friend farting while making a farting noise with his armpit or the Cubs, the laugh starts out as a sigh and rides along a stream of compressed air pockets, with the sigh riding on this stream as much as it is funny to the person—the funnier it is, the more sighs in the laugh. All of this produces the now-ubiquitous Hahahaha.
Part II: The Psychological
Not all jokes are as funny as there are as many Ha’s. A man in great sadness and depression can easily laugh just as hard and with as many Ha’s as someone who is in great mirth and excitement. This is where it takes a keen mind to decipher the difference. For instance, if a man is laughing at a joke about assisting a one-armed Polish gentleman out of tree, he could be said to be laughing very hard, judging by the number of Ha’s he is expelling; however, the man with the keen mind knows that Polish jokes are overrated, and anyone laughing uncontrollably at them is either bored, is being nice, is Polish and doesn’t want to admit it, is Polish and despises his own nationality, or could very well be sucking up to the person telling the joke, who is no doubt your boss or your father-in-law or both. Another way to tell if the laugh is worth its weight in Ha’s is to denote the ascendency of the stream of sighs. If a person is laughing genuinely with humor and mirth, the Ha’s are ascending in pitch and volume, just as when one watches a British sitcom or the latest trailer of the fourth installment of an American action movie dynasty; if, however, the person is laughing in a tired, almost saddened way, the stream of sighs go nowhere—sounding simply, “Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha”, as drab and as linear as this sentence—in the very way that one does when he watches an American sitcom or hears any person talking on British television.
Part III: Real-World Applications of Alternatives
Laughing is not only a reaction to something humorous, it is a cultural cue that we use in our society that shows sociability and a solidification of views and principles, i.e. bonding. One example of this is how we act in a group. For instance, if an acquaintance of yours laughs and vomit comes out of his mouth, regardless if the joke was funny or not, you must laugh at him. It is understood by all of us as human beings that we are not laughing at the sick gentleman in a cruel, hurtful way, but laughing with him in a way that shows our solidarity in the day-to-day struggle that we alone fight against pain, suffering, and death. Even after some nearby girls have told you that he’s had his ample share of Miller Lite for the night and must be escorted to the bathroom, a nearby booth, a chair at the bar, a girlfriend’s friend’s booth, or even a less populated part of the dance floor, in no way should you stop drinking or dancing or hitting on the blond and escort your friend back to his place in a cab. This can break the mirthful bonding that is going on by, in laymen’s terms, “getting all serious”. You may tell a joke to the pretty girls and make them laugh. You may also invite them to laugh at your friend, in the fact that he is vomiting, drinking Miller Lite, or both. In extreme cases, if your friend laughs so hard that he falls over dead, walk away immediately. You may not laugh at him.
In conclusion, laughter is not only a reaction from the humor that we either see or hear, it is a bonding mechanism for our society. So, yes, I guess I was laughing a lot when Brad got dragged away in an ambulance that night, Vicki, but no, I’m not a bad friend, and yes, I miss you.