In one of Anne McCaffrey's books, somebody (I think it's Lanzecki in The Crystal Singer) says "A man can sleep any time. But a laugh restores the soul." And I have just been chuckling away at a post on the Tolkien Society page on Facebook, where members were invited to do bad mis-castings for characters in the Peter Jackson films. Of course it very soon got out of hand, and many other cultural references found their way in, from Monty Python's Holy Grail, the Wizard of Oz (Sauron being killed by Edoras falling on his head) and even Dallas (Melkor coming out of the shower and finding it was all a dream). And I will long remember the image of the Nine Riders on black Harleys, with Riders on the Storm by the Doors in the background. And Orc munchkins. And Samwise Gamgee in sparkly red shoes, saying "There's no place like home, Mr. Frodo." It made me laugh out loud, and suddenly the world seems a brighter place.
"A laugh restores the soul." Yes. This is certainly true of the laughter that arises from the joy of sharing something funny with others, or as a side-effect of being happy anyway. But laughing *at* others rather than *with* them has always struck me as a cat of an entirely different colour. I am sometimes accused of having a sense of humour deficit, because I don't often find people falling over / failing to do something / otherwise being made a fool of, very funny. So while I do find many of the posts on Facebook very funny, and indeed, share many of them, some I just don't. This laughing at other people's misfortune *feels* the same way to me as cruelty to animals.
I guess it all comes down to compassion in the end - putting yourself in the other person's shoes, and imagining how they must be feeling. So while I love to laugh, and find that a good giggle brightens my day, I'm selective about what I laugh at.