If you’re the kind of person who loathes sitcoms with a laugh track, this one probably isn’t for you. A podcast (that might be a generous term) called “Radio Haha” has been launched in celebration of World Laughter Day on May 6, and it plays nothing but laughter—for six hours straight.
In the podcast, produced by UK apartment share service SpareRoom, you’ll hear some guffaws and giggles, and plenty of cackles and chortles. It may seem absurd at first, but listen long enough and you might find yourself laughing, too. That’s because laughter is contagious, even when it comes from an artificial source.
One study by neuroscientist and “laughter expert” Robert Provine revealed that 90 percent of test subjects smiled while listening to 19 seconds of laughter generated by a novelty store toy, and nearly half laughed along. This study and others like it suggest that the dreaded laugh track does in fact work, even if many modern TV viewers find it tacky.
Science has also shown that many health benefits are associated with laughter. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also relieves stress, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, relieves pain, and improves brain function.
Presented with all this evidence, one doctor in India invented “laughter yoga,” a movement that has been growing ever since it was founded in 1995. Dr. Madan Kataria realized that even forced laughter can trigger a genuine giggle, leading him to create the very first laughter club, which spawned the first World Laughter Day.
The inaugural event in Mumbai, India, attracted over 12,000 members of local and international “laughter clubs." Participants carried signs, marched, and bellowed "ho-ho-ho, ha-ha" in unison, making it seem a little more like a protest than a joyous celebration. (If so, it would have been the happiest protest in history.) Check out some footage of the first World Laughter Day below.