• Editorial: The Humorless Element of Laughter

    Pinkie Pie may be known as one of the silliest ponies around, but that isn’t what got her the title of Element of Laughter. It can be hard to acknowledge at times, but Pinkie’s ability to make others laugh isn’t always about a punchline.

    Laughter has a lot more depth to it. Laughter can be healing, grievous, comforting and even destructive. So what qualifies Equestria’s happiest pony to wield such a diverse element?

    In honor of our favorite party planner, let’s take a look at Pinkie's element and how her love of others drives her laughter.

    I think we should start with a working definition of Laughter. Now I hate to disagree with our preferred pink party pony, but laughter is not the body's response to delight. Laughter’s a response to high emotional arousal.

    Actual footage of me on my job.
    Laughter is not necessarily a response to happiness. That’s why some people laugh when they’re nervous or angry or any other overwhelming emotion.

    I always liked that Laughter was chosen as an element instead of something like Joy. While friendship needs plenty of cheer in it, there needs to be room for pain and heartache too. Friendship is messy and Laughter is one of its greatest tools when used properly.

    Notice the difference with this laughter compared to the one above.
    One of the best examples of this is when Pinkie laughed at the scary trees, she reduced the level of fear her friends felt. She laughed at fear thus weakening its grip on her friends. Of course, the danger of the trip didn’t disappear, but the mane 6 were able to think clearly again because Pinkie added a little laughter.

    Pinkie wasn’t laughing with Fear thinking it was funny, she was laughing at it because it didn't need to be controlling her or her friends anymore.

    Pinkie: Need a good laugh! Go ahead! I'm hysterical, literally!
    We all know Laughter can be used for mockery. When we laugh at someone, we damage their self-esteem and make a parody out of who they really are. But this destructive trait can be used against thoughts and ideas for a more positive outcome.

    When we laugh at concepts like fear or grumpiness, we stripe them of their power over us.

    Some creature treats you poorly, include them in your fun!
    Whenever tension runs high, Pinkie knows a well-placed joke can usually ease the discomfort and help regulate ponies’ emotions. It's the reason why she's quick to forgive and tries to include everyone in a laugh. (Too bad her prank party was misinterpreted by Gilda as a "Let's make fun of Gilda" party.)

    Gotta love how much bonding happens on the Pie rock Farm. Glaring, door slamming, leaving a family member outside during lunch, so much connectivity in this family. 
    Laughter can also be used for healing and bonding when ponies have trouble seeing things eye to eye.

    Pinkie comes from a background where her more enthusiastic personalities didn’t always fit in. Growing up on a rock farm meant times were serious. The Pie family didn’t either have the time or the know-how to fully support their strangest member which may be why Pinkie ended up moving to Ponyville.

    Surely thou cannot favor this madness! Smiling and gift-giving are not allowed!
    Not even holidays deviate from the somber structure the Pie family fosters on their farm. So Pinkie had to find a different way to share the joys she feels with her family.

    I know it's Smile Day, but Imma say this anyway; that party might have been one of the very few times Pinkie ever got her whole family to smile.
    Where emotions like fear, anger, despondency, and legalism stood between Pinkie and her family, laughter was able to break down the walls. Pinkie was able to share her special talent with her family because parties turned out to be something they all could laugh at together.

    From the moment Pinkie threw her first party to the present day, she’s been in love with making others smile because it allows her to connect to them. Pinkie is not the Element of Laughter because she's funny, she is laughter because she knows how to break down barriers between ponies.

    Fun Fact: The same part of the brain responsible for laughter is responsible for crying too. So if you cry when happy, you’re technically still laughing.
    There is something about sharing a chuckle or smile with someone that takes years of relationship building and crams it into one moment.

    Usually using parties as a vehicle for laughter, Pinkie invites those around her to embrace their strong emotions and express them. She doesn’t mock any pony for showing how they feel, but she remembers not to take anypony’s reaction too seriously.

    Another Fun Fact: You're more likely to laugh at the statement "Hey you, how have you been," than at a joke.
    Yes, Pinkie can make others laugh because she’s funny, but she doesn’t need a joke to bring laughter out in others. Just seeing her makes background ponies smile and knowing she’s going to throw a party encourages the whole town to break out in song.

    The laugh of "No hard feelings," is a good one.
    Laughing can’t just be for amusement otherwise it wouldn't be useful to the Elements of Harmony. It goes without saying that laughter is a very social interaction. Just like yawning, laughter is very contagious and it is a nonverbal sign of friendship.

    According to Lea Winerman in an American Psychological Association journal (A Laughing Matter June 2006 vol 37, No. 6), we bond with people when we laugh with them. Laughter, therefore, isn’t linked to humor but to relationships.

    Pinkie Pie uses every aspect of laughter to bond with those around her and helps them cope with their feelings.

    Look at that totally genuine smile.
    There is one major drawback to all this, Laughter requires companionship to function properly otherwise it's just being used to mask hurt feelings. Even though Pinkie is fairly good at perking herself up, there are plenty of situations she can’t laugh her way out of.

    Yet Another Fact: You’re more likely to talk to yourself when alone than you are to laugh.
    If Laughter had an archenemy it would be Loneliness, something Pinkie doesn’t handle very well. When she feels separated from her friends or feels like she can’t make them happy, Pinkie deflates, literally.

    Pinkie: Let's all agree to just laugh this whole little psychotic break thing away.
    Luckily for her, there’s more than 1 Element of Harmony for a reason. Being able to laugh at her own mistakes allows Pinkie to quickly reconnect with the ponies that matter most to her. She never takes herself so seriously that she holds herself to impossible standards.

    All that said, Laughter is more about connection than humor and to think of Pinkie as merely comic relief is to miss the depth of both her character and her element.

    Hasn't been in town for longer than 5 minutes and already made friends with all the locals. How? Laughter!
    Pinkie is Laughter because every part of her is about bringing others (and herself) together.

    And just because it would be a missed opportunity, I'll end with a joke in hopes you'll leave me some too:

    What do you get when you combine a rhetorical question and a joke?