Giggle fits: Why weed and comedy are a good pair

by Jessie O’Brien

Peas and carrots. Sonny and Cher. Weed and comedy. The two are the likeliest of bedfellows because of one commonality: laughter. Side-splitting, uncontrollable giggles are one of cannabis greatest benefits. As soon as you think you’ve got a hold of yourself, it strikes again in full force, with no end in sight.

Albuquerque comedian Zach Abeyta, who will be performing during the Cannabis Crawl comedy showcase, knows all about the advantageous combination. He is on track to perform over 200 comedy shows this year and also works in Herbal Edibles’ lab extracting concentrates.

“Your brain naturally has cannabinoid receptors. I think our brains are wired to naturally receive cannabis,” Abeyta said.

Abeyta’s right on that. A bit of neuroscience: The brain naturally produces its own cannabinoids – a chemical that is found in cannabis – and receptors can be found in the nervous and immune systems known as the endocannabinoid system. (This is why it’s impossible to overdose on even the fattest blunt rolled for Andre the Giant.) The short of it is the endocannabinoid systems regulates homeostasis in the body.

There are specific reasons why weed and laughter are linked. (Blazing isn’t a direct path to the giggle fits. On the same dose of the same strain, some may be on a carefree ride, while others suffer a silent internal existential crisis, This is due to a number of factors such as genetics, health, tolerance, etc… ).When THC tickles the cannabinoid receptors, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, thus increasing your mood. And when you’re in a good mood, you’re more apt to smile. Cannabis also increases blood flow bringing in oxygen to the frontal lobe which is a part of the brain associated with humor.

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There are benefits to laughing in groups as well. (This is one reason comedy clubs pack people in such a tight space.) We all know by first-hand experience laughter is contagious. Abeyta, whose material is heavy on cannabis, says he once did a show for a Kurple, an Albuquerque cannabis magazine, event, and people were outside smoking and vaping. He said there was far more unity in the crowd and no risk of hecklers, who are always drunk people.

People in the crowd may have been vibing off each others mirror neurons. These brain cells allow us to pick up on other people’s emotions (and yawns!). Mirror neurons are essentially what create empathy, and some researchers think these reflective cells help us respond to laughter.

But the audience shouldn’t be the only ones having fun with Mary Jane. Abeyta said a major factor in being a good comedian is allowing yourself to be yourself. A few puffs of the good stuff helps calm his nerves before stepping on stage.

“Everybody has their rituals (before they go on stage),” Abeyta said. “Mine is to roll a joint and listen to some music.”

Abeyta said weed helps his writing process as well. He said rolling up a joint can help him expand on his material.

“You can feel when something is worth putting energy into,” he said. “My favorite thing is to stretch this one minute joke into five minutes, then into 10 minutes, into 15 minutes.”

And weed helps him do that.

Anecdotally, it’s common knowledge that creative types use cannabis. Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan, and George Carlin have spoken about weed and its effects on their creativity. But there are different theories as to why that is. A 2017 study, published in Consciousness and Cognition, said that cannabis users are more open to experience, which resulted in more creativity because they were less self-conscious to begin with. Their creativity is not necessarily a result of cannabis. But that frontal lobe again. That region is associated with divergent thinking, so marijuana may promote creativity.

The science isn’t concrete, but there is no reason you can’t be your own guinea pig. Certain strains may be better to try at a comedy show. When writing and performing, Abeyta says he likes to use sativas.

“It’s more cerebral and more loose. Indica could hinder your performance,” he said.

“[And] I like to layer. I like to smoke a little bit, eat a little bit of edibles and (use) topical cream along with CBD.”

And for the crowd?

Abeyta suggests Lemonade, Pineapple Express, or Gorilla Glue. And edibles, too.

“They really loosen you up,” he said. “Blue Dream is always really accessible or The Sauce, which is Gorilla Glue No. 4 crossed with Green Ribbon.”

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