Maybe You Could Die Laughing

by Jeff Justice, CSP

die laughingAl Ernst is a wonderful comedian and corporate speaker who has beaten cancer three times. He had just finished a killer show — sometimes comedians say, “Man, I killed tonight!” As he left the stage, a man walked up and said, “You’re the funniest person I’ve ever seen. I’ve never laughed that hard, and I just want to thank you.” Then the guy fell over dead of a massive heart attack!

Al thought, “I caused this person to die! Maybe I should quit before anyone else gets hurt….” I told him, “He had a pre-existing condition and it just wound up that way. Think about the positive side. Laughing yourself to death is pretty good.” After awhile, Al said, “Okay, enough about me. I’ve been hearing good things about you on the road. How are you doing?” I said, “Well, I haven’t been killing.…” After about two seconds of dead silence, I worried I’d gone too far. Then he exploded in laughter and we laughed until we had tears in our eyes, making up sick quotes for newspaper headlines. I knew my friend would be all right, but we almost lost his gift of laughter.

My dad has Alzheimers and my mom almost died from stress over it. My mother-in-law was in the hospital with a stroke, paralyzed on one side. Since she has been there, five roommates in a row have died. She called and said, “Well, Elsie died last night.” I replied, “Pat, you go through roommates like a ot knife through butter.” She agreed, “Oh, yeah — Marge (her sister) is starting to call me ‘The Terminator’!” We started laughing and our imaginations went wild: “‘Okay,’ the nurse tells a patient, ‘we’re going to move you in with Pat Flynn…’ The patient screams, ‘No, I’m too young to die!’ or the nurse says, ‘Look, either eat that or you’re moving in with Pat!’”

A few weeks ago, she and my wife were laughing about trying to fix her up with a patient down the hall. Pat hasn’t dated anybody in over 25 years. They got into the silliness of it, laughing hysterically till Diane actually started worrying because she couldn’t hear her mom on the line. Pat was just trying to catch her breath. It built into about eight minutes of hysterical laughter and whenever one of them said something, they both laughed harder. The next day, Pat called Diane back and said that was the first great night’s sleep she’d had since she’d been in the place! Proverbs says a merry heart is good medicine.

If you found these tips from Jeff Justice, CSP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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