an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what could a big belly laugh
do? In a mix of comedy and science, medical researchers at UCLA's
Jonsson Cancer Center are going to find out. They have launched a
five year study to determine if a good giggle can improve the immune
The study, called Rx Laughter™, involves showing classic
comedies to children and adolescents suffering from serious illness.
If a positive biological response to laughter is found, chuckling
could be heard in the unlikeliest places.
Sherry Dunay Hilber, a UCLA graduate and recent network television
executive (ABC and CBS) created and developed Rx Laughter. She also
raised a $75,000 grant from the cable tv network, Comedy Central.
Ms. Hilber spearheads the project as it's Creator, Executive Director
and Executive Producer.
"I am not a physician, but I have seen firsthand the pain
and sadness in hospitals", Hilber said. "Watching a funny
video is not going to cure them, but it helps them feel less alone.
I think that the bigger umbrella about Rx Laughter is that it's
not just about laughter, it's about a spiritual component - finding
a way to have a higher quality of life when things are stressful."
Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer sees a lot of kids in pain. As the UCLA cancer
researcher and Director of the Pediatric Pain Program at the Mattel
Children's Hospital at UCLA, she will head up the medical research.
"It can have tremendous effects on the healing process in general,"
Descendants of classic comedians are also involved in Rx Laughter:
Bill Marx, son of Harpo Marx, will join other offsprings of classic
comedians including Christopher Chaplin and Josephine Chaplin, son
& daughter of Charlie Chaplin; Chris Costello, Daughter of Lou
Costello; Ronald J. Fields, grandson of W.C. Fields, and others.
Marx, of Palm Springs, said that his 92 year old mother is doing
well after recovering from cancer and three bouts of double pneumonia.
"Laughter is part of the reason for her recovery", he
said. "She is still hanging in so well because we laugh like
hell. Every day, we look for the absurd side of things." Marx
said that his mother howls so hard that her stomach hurts. He recently
toured UCLA's Pediatric Center with his wife, and met some of the
kids struggling with serious illness. "The more laughter, the
more time is spent taking their mind off of their problems. There
is no way that you can say anything bad about making people laugh",
For more information about Rx Laughter", see the www.rxlaughter.org