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RODDY GUARD Losing oneself in laughter is unrivalled as the most glorious and defenceless state of being


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The Commitments cast

The Commitments cast

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Bernie, Imelda and Natalie from the hilarious Commitments

Bernie, Imelda and Natalie from the hilarious Commitments

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The Commitments cast

AN uplifting truth struck with the percussive force of a Mickah Wallace drum solo while chortling convulsively through The Commitments tribute, Return to Barrytown.

It landed with the mesmerising power of an Andrew Strong Mustang Sally crescendo; a realisation as unvarnished as Colm Meaney machine-gunning his audience with another careworn, expletive-ridden Jimmy Rabbitte Sr one-liner.

Here's what it revealed…

Losing oneself in laughter - the helpless, explosive, refreshing, uproarious, unstoppable, side-splitting, engulfing strain - is unrivalled as the most glorious and defenceless state of being.

It is July sunshine dressing the Cote D'Azur or the Greek Islands or the Italian Riviera in their most sparkly sequins.

It is an eviction of darkness and worry and pain, the unconditional surrender to the shrieking, hysterical present.

It is an elixir, an amnesia, a vaccine for any and every trouble; it cures, restores, permits us to forget.

It is your county winning an All-Ireland; it is your six numbers emerging from the drum in the lottery of life.

It is soaring like a winged eagle, higher and higher, to an altitude of absolute, untouchable, blissful freedom.

It is the universal language.

It is the ripping off of every ugly mask - indifference, cynicism, coldness, sadness - life's trials tattoo to our features, the revealing of something authentic and magical at our core.

It is a dopamine avalanche, a snowslide of happy messages fast-tracked from the brain, a joy inundation.

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It is a return to childhood, to long, untroubled days of high spirits and mischief and bliss.

It is friendship.

It is a building of bonds, a relationship glue: Shared laughter cleanses and heals and opens a door to understanding and empathy and love.

It is the soul's postcard from paradise.

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Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

To raise the white flag and yield completely to that high-grade, breath-thieving, bone- shaking, face-flushing, thump-the-table mirth, is a kind of spiritual Botox.

Lost in the sheer pleasure of existence, we feel younger; as with dancing or singing, it is a manifestation of joy, a jailbreak of emotions that simply refuse to be incarcerated and subdued any longer in some grim sentient Shawshank.

The trigger for such a thunderous peal hardly matters. It could be Del Boy falling through a pub trapdoor; Billy Connolly philosophising on incontinence pants; a drunken uncle at a family wedding; a Sunday morning autopsy of a half-remembered Saturday night on the tiles.

What matters is where it takes us.

A line from the celebrated 20th century sociologist Norbert Elias nails the true sorcery of wild laughter: "The serious long term business of life recedes from our mind."

We submit completely to the now, find ourselves overrun by an invading force of Merriment's elite Army Rangers.

"While we laugh," says Elias, "all thoughts of what lies behind and before us fade into the background."

It is so true.

Happiness hacks into our mainframe like a cyber villain, yet the only ransom it demands is that we snigger and guffaw and roll around the floor like Laurel and Hardy in that magical scene from the 1930 film Blotto (take a minute now to YouTube it, it will transform your day).

Laughter is produced in our own internal Astra Zeneca lab, by microscopic scientists who have unearthed a formula for living longer.

Giggling causes the blood to run more freely and copiously in our head.

It releases a rainbow of pleasant sensations, our neural transmitters effectively morphing into Pharrell Williams delivering a particularly rousing chorus of Happy.

"Clap along as if you feel like a room without a roof, clap along as if you feel like happiness is the truth."

There are three friends of mine, John Lawlor, Will Walsh and Seanie Moran, and each has an extraordinary gift.

They tell a story, and it somehow tickles that part of your essence where giddiness resides.

And you laugh and laugh and laugh, howling deliriously at the moon, the world reduced to the dimensions of their shimmering words.

Most of us, if we are lucky, know a John, a Will, a Seanie: Human factories mass producing nuggets of happiness; lamp-lighting chuckle brothers bringing a comforting, hope-stacked glow to the greyest day.

Doormen making it more difficult for gloom to access the VIP rooms of our world.

The first time I read The Commitments' Barrytown trilogy sibling, The Snapper, I quivered and shuddered and shook so uncontainably that it must have alarmed some seismologist sitting at his Richter Scale machine.

Roddy Doyle's genius was to introduce us to a humour hiding in plain sight.

The author reached inside the reader and found that part where those often elusive draughts of purging, sanitising and delirious laughter reside.

Doyle opened the sluice gates and allowed the dam burst of howling happiness to wash over us.

And then, to borrow one last time from Elias, "refreshed, with the aftertaste of pleasurable experience still on our tongue," we got on with the day.

Feeling a little lighter, a little younger and a little more in love with life.

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