Study reveals laughter really is the best medicine
People feel less pain after a good laugh, because it may cause the body to release chemicals that act as a natural painkiller, research has suggested.
The researchers at the University of Oxford also think the ability to belly laugh was unique to early humans.
This, they believe, enabled our ancestors to form much larger tribal groupings than the ape-like species that lived alongside them.
The experimenters first tested the pain thresholds of volunteers.
They were then split into two groups, with one being shown 15 minutes of comedy videos, while the other was shown material the researchers deemed boring - such as golfing programmes.
The type of laughter was also important. Tittering and giggling did not elicit any physiological effect; only a good guffaw did the job.
The researchers found that those subjects that had recently experienced belly laughs were able to withstand up to 10% more pain than they had done before watching the videos.
To their surprise, the scientists also found that the other group was less able to bear pain after watching 15 minutes of the "boring" programmes.
"It's exactly what happens when we say 'I laughed until it hurt'. It seems to be extremely painful and it's that pain that produces the endorphin effect."
However, not all the comedy programmes were able to hit the spot, according to Prof Dunbar.
Slapstick humour seemed to score highly whereas clever stand-up comedy routines, though found to be enjoyable, had no effect on raising pain thresholds.
"Things that worked very well were slapstick comedies such as Mr Bean.
"Situation comedies such as Friends also seemed to be particularly successful."
“So we now have a good reason to watch tv and have a good laugh” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire.