The Gift of Laughter

The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, opened its 17th edition with the world premiere of LOVE, GILDA on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at Beacon Theatre.
CNN Films presented the feature length documentary- which opened a window into the world of celebrated Emmy® and Grammy® award-winning comedian Gilda Radner who became a cultural icon the moment audiences first laughed with her on Saturday Night Live’s debut episode. A trailblazer for female comedians, her impact on the entertainment industry has endured almost four decades.

gilda radner
There’s the beloved image of Gilda Radner: fearless, passionate, and iconic. And then, there are shades of Radner the public wasn’t privileged to know, beyond her beloved characters on Saturday Night Live and then there was the determined Gilda battling ovarian cancer1. At the world premiere, the film was introduced by comedian Tina Fey who was moved to tears while discussing the impact Gilda had on her life.

Tina Fay attend
Tina-Fey attend-love-gilda-tribecca-film-festival

Gilda Radner made Americans laugh on late-night television and she wanted to make people laugh about getting cancer. But cancer, as she writes in her memoir IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING, is about “the most unfunny thing in the world.” She goes on to say “Throughout my career my job was to find what was funny about whatever was going on.” she writes. “So I began to think that I should do the same thing with cancer. It needed me badly because it has such a terrible reputation.

Cancer, I decided, needed a comedienne to come in there and lighten it up.”  Some would say Gilda was ahead of her time with the use of laughter to get her through some of her most difficult times fighting cancer. For people living with cancer, it may seem strange to find humor when facing such serious issues. Yet, laughter may be helpful in ways you may not have realized or imagined.

We are born with the gift of laughter according to research. Laughter is a natural medicine. It lifts our spirits and makes us feel happy. Laughter is a contagious emotion. It can bring people together. It can help us feel more alive and empowered.

Laughter Therapy is a type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person’s sense of well-being.  It may be used to help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles. It is a type of complementary therapy (also called humor therapy)3.

growing body of research supports the theory that laughter may have therapeutic value. For years, the use of humor has been used in medicine. Surgeons used humor to distract patients from pain as early as the 13th century. Later, in the 20th century, came the scientific study of the effect of humor on physical wellness.

Many credit this to Norman Cousins. After years of prolonged pain from a serious illness, Cousins claims to have cured himself with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins. In his 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness, Cousins describes how watching comedic movies helped him recover.

According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to2:

  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
  • Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

“ In Love Gilda, we see how the beloved comedian Gilda Radner used laughter to get through her most difficult times battling ovarian cancer. She is an inspiration to us all, said acclaimed film producer Taylor Re Lynn.

Taylor Re Lynn Attends Tribeca Film Festival for Love Gilda

Director Lisa D’Apolito uses rare personal recordings and journal entries to tell Radner’s story in her own words chronicling her Saturday Night Live years through her battle with ovarian cancer. Along the way, friends and admirers, including Amy Poehler, Cecily Strong, Lorne Michaels, and a host of others, offer their most cherished memories of this brilliant trailblazer.

Lisa D Apolitoat
Director Lisa D’Apolito at Love Gilda Premiere

What results is a touching tribute to and a fascinating contemplation of the comedian’s enduring cultural impact. The film’s world premiere had many of Hollywood’s leading comedians and industry insiders in attendance to support the film. The film is showing throughout the film festival that takes place April 18 – 29, 2018. For more on the film festival visit: www.tribecafilm.com/festival.

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert De Niro in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. The festival is now in its 17th year. Saturday Night Live Producer Lorne Michaels was also in attendance.

Robert De Niro (L) and Lorne Michaels (R)

References:

  1. Tribeca Film Institute (2018, February 6th). Gilda Radner Documentary Love, Gilda To Premiere At Opening Night Of Tribeca 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.tribecafilm.com/stories/love-gilda-opening-night-tribeca-2018.
  2. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America, (n.d).  Laughter Therapy. Retrieved from:  https://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/.
  3. Trafford, A. (1989, July 17th). Gilda Radner And The Limits Of Laughter. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1989/07/17/gilda-radner-and-the-limits-of-laughter/e9d1b6cf-3f9f-491e-a71b-b1f691f8eb23/?utm_term=.598d2e9ee2c2.

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