Broadway veteran and award-winning New York comedienne professor Mina Liccione will teach Dubai residents how to laugh. Classes for this unique programme, fittingly called Laugh Out Loud, will be held at the Dubai Community Theatre and Art Centre, which will double up as the city's first and perhaps only comedy school on Saturdays from this weekend.
Laughter is contagious
"Laughter releases not just endorphins, but also the spirit. It's contagious and it unifies. Also, it makes you happy," says Mina who will be doing a spoof on yesteryear's Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn in some of her sessions.
Her character is called Miss Audrey Heartburn and it's guaranteed to trigger a laugh riot.
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But Mina, who has been a clown with Cirque du Soleil (French for Circus of the Suns), says her real challenge will be to make Dubai residents forget their worries and laugh. "As part of the elaborate curriculum, I will teach them how to look at their lives and instead of negatives, find humour in it. If you are able to develop the ability to turn your pain into something funny, something laughable, then you are healed."
Mina reckons that rising costs, traffic problems and rent increases are good subject material for her course because everybody relates to them in Dubai. "If you can't do much about the things that frustrate you, then you might as well laugh it away. And this is precisely what I'll ask my students to do," she said.
"The other day I missed an exit and instead of Greens Community ended up reaching Abu Dhabi. Some people would be hassled by this experience but I found the whole thing hilarious. When I told my friends about the incident, they related to it instantly as most of them had faced similar if not such extreme situations. "We had a good laugh over it."
An initiative of Dubai Drums Managing Director Julie Ann, classes for the nine-week-long course have been divided into three categories.
Each session will be for one hour and will cost between Dh75-Dh100.
The course, which will also focus on improvisation, theatre games, clowning, character development and sketch comedy writing, will culminate in a performance put together by the students.
Now that is sure to tickle some funny bones.
Humour defuses stress
Humour takes a stressful condition and turns it into a challenge. Studies at New York's Cornell University found that people exposed to humour in the workplace were not only more creative problem-solvers, but they also could better see the consequences of their individual decisions. Some research suggests that laughter may also reduce the risk of heart disease. Historically, research has shown that distressing emotions (depression, anger, anxiety, and stress) are all related to heart disease. A study done at the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that a good sense of humour and the ability to laugh at stressful situations help mitigate the damaging physical effects of distressing emotions
So, the next time you feel stressed do the following:
- Try to laugh n Rent a silly movie
- Tell a joke n Tickle someone
- Play a crazy game
Humour and life
It was humour that helped Dubai Drums Managing Director Julie Ann come to terms with life after a devastating personal tragedy.
"I had lost all zest for life, but humour saved me from slipping into an abyss," says Julie, who has initiated the Laugh Out Loud programme along with Mina.
"I met Mina when she was doing a show for us at the Dubai Festival City. We struck an instant rapport and soon we were working on the idea of starting comedy classes in Dubai.
"Just like Dubai Drums is all about unity through rhythm, Laugh Out Loud will be about unity through laughter. I think there's a synergy between humour and life. Laughter enhances a person's ability to centre himself and helps him find an equilibrium – a state where you are in perfect balance with life. At Laugh Out Loud, we'll teach how you can step out of yourself and make fun of yourself."
Youth Comedy 101
Fee: Dh75 per class
Teen Comedy 101
Fee: Dh100 per class
Saturday morning funnies
Comedy for Adults
Fee: Dh100 per class
For more information and registration, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 050-927 3621