Laughs Comedy Spot Helping To Decrease Stress Levels In Tough Economic Times

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Laughs Comedy Spot, a Seattle area comedy club, is addressing the increasing amount of stress being felt by all due to the current economic downturn with an affordable, non-medical solution: Laughter.

The recent economic downturn has increased stress levels across the country, contributing to increased blood pressure, reduced brain functioning, decreased immune system, weight gain and overall malaise. One Washington business is addressing the increasing amount of stress being felt in Seattle with a non-medical solution: Laughter.

Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland, WA is packing the house on most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as residents and tourists from Seattle and the surrounding area are looking for a reprieve from the ongoing barrage of bad news around a devastated economy.

"It's something I look forward to all week," says Karin Quirk, a collaborative divorce attorney in Bellevue, Washington who has been attending Laughs' Thursday night Wine 101 and a comedy show. "I'm seeing more marriages stressed to the point of divorce because of lost jobs, bad investments, etc. I really try to help them dissolve their marriages with as little additional drama as possible, but it isn't always easy and frankly, it can get a little depressing. But on Thursday night, I know I am going to have a good laugh and that makes things easier to manage."

"It's definitely an old cliché," says Angela Schroeder, co-owner of Laughs, the Eastside's premier comedy club, "but laughter really is the best medicine."

"It's cheaper than antidepressants or a shrink too!," adds Schroeder's husband, co-owner, and long-time comedian Dave Dennison. "And you don't have to have insurance, so there's no deductible or co-pay required."

Schroeder and Dennison have research behind them to show that laughter is in fact good medicine. A study conducted well over a decade ago by Drs. Lee Berk and Stanley Tan showed that "the positive effects of mirthful laughter not only decrease[s] stress, but spontaneously increases the activity of natural killer cells that are vital to fighting and preventing disease." Two more recent studies focusing on the effects of Laughter Yoga, an exercise technique started in 1995 in India that has since swept the world, further confirmed that laughter sessions not only significantly reduce stress but increase work effectiveness as well.

"I have always believed that laughter sessions were beneficial," said Dr. Kataria of the Laughter Yoga study, "but I was surprised how conclusive the results of this scientific research are. One study shows improvements in work effectiveness of more than 100 percent, and the other confirms major stress reduction and a remarkable increase in emotional intelligence skills that are required for career and life success." .

For those facing the high stress of a challenging economy, tapping into the power of laughter can significantly impact current and future health. Laughing relaxes the body and reduces problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, and ulcers. Some research suggests that it may also reduce the risk of heart disease while increasing our capacity to fight disease. In fact, laughing is proven to cause physiological changes in the body including a reduction in cortisol (a chemical that indicates stress in the body) and an increase in mood-elevating endorphins. And it is thought to improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system, heighten the immune system, and make the heart stronger.

"We know things are tough right now," says Schroeder. "So we are recruiting some of the funniest comedians we know, and we're keeping our prices low so having a good laugh once in a while is affordable too."

For New Year's Eve, Laughs Comedy Spot is offering some special pricing on a laughter filled evening in hopes of getting their customers off to a good start for 2009. Their headline comedian is Bengt Washburn, whose television appearances include CBS - The Late Late Show with Craig Fergusen and Comedy Central - Live at Gotham. He has also been featured on a variety of radio shows including: The Bob and Tom Show, The Todd and Tyler Show, The Bob Rivers Show, Public Radio International, NPR and XMComedy. Bengt is also the Winner of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition.

Washburn's act, whom Laughs rate as PG-13, (no nudity or overly offensive jokes), is ever-evolving, sometimes topical, often autobiographical, at times poignant, mostly true and very, very, funny. As he describes it on his web site, his act is constructed from his own mistakes, with all the details of the "carefully crafted series of unfortunate decisions" that are his life.

Washburn will perform twice New Year's Eve with shows at 8pm and 10:30pm. Tickets for the show are $20.00 per person and Laughs is also offering a prix fixe three-course dinner for only $20.00's more. Guests for the later show will receive the usual party favors, hats and blowers and a free champagne toast at midnight.

For those visiting Kirkland for the holidays, or locals looking for a great way to spend New Year's Eve in Kirkland, Laughs has partnered with several hotels in the area including the Courtyard Marriott, the new Heathman Hotel, and the Carlton Inn, to provide a package deal that includes discounted rooms and special seating at one of the two comedy shows. Information is available at http://www.laughscomedyspot.com and reservations can be made online at http://www.ticketweb.com or by calling Laughs directly at (425) 823-6306.

Throughout the rest of December and into 2009, Laughs will continue to offer some of the best comedic talent from across the country with reasonable pricing for upcoming shows, private parties and their menu to ensure that laughter is available to all. A calendar of shows, private party booking information, videos of talent, their menu and even an email "Laugh Alert" are available on their web site.

"We know things are tough everywhere!" says Dennison, who has spent his life laughing and making others laugh. "So we're doing our best to keep people out of the hospitals and off the local bridges. We may not get rich but maybe there's some kind of world peace award out there with our name on it?!"

About Laughs Comedy Spot - Laughs is located at 12099 124th Ave. NE in Kirkland, just off I-405 at exit 20. The club is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information visit http://www.laughscomedy.com or contact Dave Dennison at (425) 823-6306.

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