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They laugh, and teach the world to laugh with them

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Those who attend one of her classes might find themselves sitting with their mouths open wide, lightly slapping their chests and then their knees with one hand while pointing at people with the other hand and laughing without making noise.

"It's sort of as if you were in church and you couldn't laugh and had to squelch it a little bit," says Sadler about the "silent laugh," one of the interactive laughter exercises she uses.

A louder laughter exercise is the "cellphone laugh." Sadler asks participants to walk around the room, holding imaginary cellphone against their ear, pretending to call a friend to perhaps tell them about this crazy laughter club workshop they attended. But instead of talking on their phones, participants laugh into it. And they're encouraged to make eye contact with one another.

The favorite class exercise is often the "argumentative laughter" (without the argument). Class participants walk around and point and wiggle their fingers as though in preparation to scold one another, but instead, they laugh. Hee, hee, hee.

Why does Sadler initiate these almost slapstick comedy routines that tend to embarrass her 17-year-old twin daughters, but evoke plentiful chuckles from her 11-year-old son?

"My goal is to make sure my son doesn't lose his laugh," Sadler says, citing statistics that indicate children laugh more than 400 times daily, while adults laugh only eight to 15 times a day.

"Somewhere in there we lose our laugh," she says. "And families don't do anything together anymore. I thought if I could get a family to sit down and laugh together as a group, not privately, but as an activity, then maybe I could help kids keep their laugh and the adults to lighten up a bit."

Barbara Hee (yes, that's her real name), founder of the Philly Phun Laughter Club in Philadelphia, recently aimed to get the whole city laughing.

Ms. Hee and four other certified laughter leaders offered free laughter sessions throughout the city during the week of April 25. Even the mayor joined in by officially proclaiming the week Laughter Week.

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