It sounds like a joke, but a leader of the laughing competition movement says he's "quite serious." Events have been held in countries from Japan to the Czech Republic to the US; Pacific Standard recounts a recent event in Toronto. "We’re trying to demonstrate that laughter is a sport," "laughologist" Gary Nerenberg told spectators. "Punching people in the face is a sport, poking people with sticks is a sport ... so why not have a sport about the pursuit of human joy?"
Others take similarly philosophical viewpoints. "It’s a peace movement," says a woman involved. "It’s about spreading joy." In Toronto, competitors performed in various categories of laughter, including the "Diabolical Laugh," the "Alabama Knee-Slapper," and the difficult "Snort Laugh." The first person to offer a laugh—a ceremonial chuckle—was 103 years old. If performers started to sound hollow, a ref told them to stop. "You don’t need to fake it; you just allow it to happen," says an audience member and graduate student in positive psychology. (Read more laughing stories.)