Their act is definitely a laughing matter

The sound of laughter may be loud enough to drown out the noise of waves crashing and sea gulls screeching at Main Beach every morning.

And it's all thanks to Laguna Beach resident Jeffrey Briar, who has been leading a laughter yoga group on the beach, aptly called the Laughter Club. The unofficial group that's free to join has met every day for the last seven years, rain or shine.

There's no jokes told to spur the giggles, though. The laughter is simply that — laughter. At first it feels forced, Briar said, but after a few minutes the laughter feels natural and it flows.

[An earlier version mistakenly said Briar met and interviewed Kataria in 1987. It was actually 2007. Also, an earlier version stated the Laughter Club was the only one in the Western world. In fact, it's the only one that meets seven days a week.]

Briar is also the director of the Laughter Yoga Institute of Laguna Beach.

Briar, 57, recently published a book on the subject: "Laughter Revolutionaries: Making the World Safe for Hilarity."

The book includes interviews with the acclaimed Dr. Patch Adams, Francoise Rousse of l'Ecole de Rire (School of Laughter), religious leaders and the creator of laughter yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria.

Briar said he first got the idea for the book in 2007, when he interviewed Kataria.

However, Briar didn't truly get involved in the movement until the 2000s, when he heard about people doing laughter yoga every day at 6 a.m. at a park in India. He started reading about the laughter clubs of Bombay, where people gather before work to laugh together. Shortly thereafter, he started the club in Laguna Beach, which he said is the only laughter club in the Western world that meets seven days a week.

When it came to the book, Briar said it wasn't easy to get an interview with Adams, who doesn't use a computer or communicate much by telephone. But Adams responded after Briar wrote him a couple letters.

"For Patch, the primary goal is to develop friendship. Friendship beyond words, a sense of people caring for each other," Briar said. "When you have that and enjoy sharing good times, then laughter is a natural consequence of that."

The Laughter Club meets for about an hour, but Briar said as little as 15 minutes of laughter a day can change your physiology.

While some might be a little more timid in the session, Briar said he goes all out — rolling around on the floor whenever he can.

Briar credited laughter yoga for changing his life.

"On a health level, I no longer get coughs, colds, flu. I used to be out three weeks a year," he said. "My social life completely transformed. I used to be a loner with not a lot of friends, and now my social calendar is so full that I have to apologize."

He points to the unconditional joy of the Laughter Club, which he calls a "family of choice."

"The people in the Laughter Club may not share the same language, same religion or political views," he said, "but they share the ability to laugh."

Twitter: @joannaclay

If You Go

What: Laughter Club

Where: Main Beach

When: Sunday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.

Cost: Free


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