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Inopportune Yuks’ Disorder

August 28, 2011

I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell.  And it’s not my fault.  While at times I may appear to be acutely insensitive, I’m actually suffering from a health condition known as Inopportune Yuks’ Disorder (also called the Giggle Loop in the UK).  This causes a manic uncontainable giggle thing to occur at the most ill-timed moment. 

Typically what happens is I’m in a situation where it is so completely nerve-wrackingly inappropriate to laugh that I panic at the very idea of laughing.  I believe what happens from there is my brain senses danger and thinks I’m being attacked.  At that point, my brain goes into survival shutdown mode, thereby reeling back its supply of oxygen (in case it’s needed later in battle).  Naturally, the low oxygen level puts me into a stupefied state where anything registers as off-the-charts rib-busting, pants-piddling hilarious. 

And by “anything,” I mean even comedy at its lowest denominator, things that would not even qualify as funny in a remote village in Eastern Europe.  I’m talking things like: 

1.) Steve Urkel2.) Family Circus comics

3.) Animals computer-animated to appear to be talking 

4.) Bob Saget 

5.) This hat 

My condition was particularly problematic for me as a child. 

  • In 3rd grade my class took a field trip to visit the site where some turn-of-the-century cattle rustlers were hanged and burned.  (Oh, yes, there will definitely be more on this story another day.)  We were supposed to be listening to a woman discuss the details of the hanging deaths.  That’s when my condition got the best of me.  And that’s when my teacher interrupted the speaker, called me out in front of the entire class and told me to go sit on the bus by myself.
  • In 8th grade my English instructor Mr. Hardin had us go around the room reading passages of The Red Badge of Courage.  We were reading about 17-year-old boys dying in bloody Civil War battles and I was biting through my retainer to keep from laughing at some inane thought that came into my head.  I couldn’t get through even five lines of reading before laughing.  Soon my teacher learned to simply pass me over when it was my turn to read.  I was very fortunate that he recognized the disease.

Sadly, I have not outgrown the condition.

  • A few years ago I sat in the second row of a cousin’s wedding and nearly lost it during the silent prayer time when suddenly I decided the small cutout window behind the altar was the perfect place for a Muppet to emerge singing “C is for Cookie.” 
  • During a work-related summit discussing the crisis of unemployment, I suddenly imagined a disgruntled unemployed person storming the room, jumping onto my table and upsetting the platter of cookies onto the floor before leading a flash mob in a choreographed rendition of Aretha Franklin’s Respect.
  • Last weekend my mom gave me tickets to attend a performance at their church by a once renowned opera singer.  What I hadn’t prepared myself for was that we would be the only people there under 70.  And that the opera singer had retired to Branson, Missouri.  Which had evidently brought out the theme park lounge singer in him.  This meant lots of requested audience participation.  I won’t even tell you about when he sang God Bless the U.S.A. to a video montage of patriotic photographs because I come off looking really, really bad.

Parenting has caused this condition to further manifest.  I distinctly remember on at least two occasions my dad stifling laughter while I cried my eyes out.  At the time, I had serious concerns that he was either a sadist or a sociopath.  But that was before I became a parent.  Please don’t call Social Services on me.  I can assure you, at the sight of a protruding broken limb or any form of blood, I’d go into primal mama bear mode, scoop up my precious cub and RUN like Dustin Hoffman in Kramer Versus Kramer for the nearest hospital.  But that’s not what happened in these instances:

  • I once watched my son severely tantrum over getting the wrong color of sippy cup by scream-crying while running backwards like a reversed motorized car.  Poor innocent bystander Margot stood next to the wall quietly gawking before unsuspecting Jude crashed into her and sent her off screaming in the opposite direction.  It was like a homespun Mr. Wizard’s World physics experiment.  One that would involve pool balls.  Jude hits Margot into the corner pocket.  Now let’s measure the angle that the ricochet occurred.  I actually threw my head onto the kitchen counter so hard I got a bruise above my left eyebrow.
  • My daughter after not getting her way coupled with sleep deprivation has been known to scream-cry while running a lap around our couch, at which point her arms turn loose-noodle and swing wildly like an orangutan.  It’s not “just me” on this one.  The last time this occurred, my husband tried so hard to contain his laughter that he blew out his eardrums.
  • I recently saw my son bury his face into my 19-pound cat and then chomp down on her stomach.  Which resulted in Matilda cobra-striking him while simultaneously and aggressively rabbit-kicking his head.  Which resulted in a bawlfest for the ages.  Hmm . . . I think he was crying anyway?  I had worked myself into such a spastic frenzy that I could hardly hear anything going on around me.

If you would like more information on this serious condition and how it might affect you and your loved ones, please stay tuned for the following important Public Service Announcement on Inopportune Yuks’ Disorder (aka the Giggle Loop).  We cannot suffer this disease in silence any longer.  In fact, that’s part of the problem.   

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Davis permalink
    August 29, 2011 7:43 am

    Yet another fun read. The “Giggle Loop” video was most appropriate, but the all-time classic example of this malady is to be found in an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” at the funeral of Chuckles the Clown.

    • August 29, 2011 8:12 am

      You are so right! Another reader just clued me on this episode. I used to watch the show so I can’t understand how I missed such a classic! Which is where youtube came in. Here, in case you want to revisit it, I have found the clip. The actual funeral starts about 4:26 into this 12 minute clip. HILARIOUS!

  2. Chad Engel permalink
    August 29, 2011 9:38 pm

    Boy, if I had a nickel for how many times I’ve experienced this…church, weddings, funerals. Ha! This made me laugh out loud thinking about some of those times. Yeah, I’m terrible, but apparently, not alone in the experience. :) I seem to recall my brother initiating the Yuks Disorder on a few occasions — triggering an almost certain outburst with consequences.

    • August 30, 2011 9:23 am

      It sounds like you’re now recognizing your “trigger people,” which is a first step in managing this disorder. Mine was my friend Kelley in my younger days. Now it’s my husband today. By all means, stay clear of those trigger people when at church services, weddings or funerals.

  3. Kelley Shafer permalink
    September 1, 2011 9:56 pm

    If you all must know, Angie also suffers from a sister affliction, “Things are hilarious right now, and especially if right now there are liquids in my mouth or upper digestive tract.” Yes, the good old, “I laughed so hard milk came out my nose.” No one can pull this off quite like Angie. At a recent dining experience with Angie, a cascade of comments between her, me, and the server, triggered the affliction. There it came, not out of the nose, but a mouth spray with a trajectory of several feet (following by a lot of coughing). My children were in awe, this was possibly the coolest and most hilarious event they had ever witnessed. The styrofoam cups of orange soda they took from the restaurant allowed them to reenact the event in the parking lot, in the yard at home, and at the kitchen table for several days. Angie’s legend lives on every time I see sugary splatters on my children’s faces, clothes, and kitchen walls. :)

    • September 1, 2011 10:22 pm

      Ahhhhhhhh! I love it! I can’t believe, maybe three weeks after this occurred, that I had already forgotten about it. Yes, you’re absolutely right. Semi-funny things are taken to new heights if I happen to be in a public place with my mouth filled with liquid. I’m glad you got to experience this again for old times’ sake.

  4. October 22, 2011 11:05 pm

    I think the danger of a post like this is that the reader will picture all of the scenarios you described and then have uncontrollable laugher of their own, such as what just happened to me while reading your blog and laughing/crying while my boyfriend sat five feet away wondering what the hell I’m reading that’s so funny. You are hilarious. So was Snowball the Cockatoo dancing to “Another one Bites the Dust”–1S8 which was played at a Neuromusicology seminar I attended at a conference two years ago. I laughed silently (you know what I mean) for fifteen straight minutes in a conference room surrounded by over 100 other professionals. At least there weren’t fewer people, then I REALLY would have looked like a crazy person – not like Christmas Eve four years ago at my grandfather’s church when my cousin and I couldn’t contain ourselves over a very, um, LOUD member of the choir who was off-key and also had some very obvious mental retardation. Talk about your inappropriate yuks…

    • October 23, 2011 9:30 am

      I love that video and have seen it before (despite that I rarely watch youtube video forwards) and would be having a bad case of IYD if I watched this and then had to sit quietly through a professional conference.

      Yes, for me, most anything set in a church causes a “trigger factor” that can most definintely lead to an IYD outburst.

  5. November 29, 2011 10:54 pm

    I gotta say, one of the most embarrassing times I got the giggles was during the film strip “There’s a New You Coming”, as shown to the boys in our 5th grade class by our PE teacher, Mr. Gudgel. (The title says it all.) I seemed to be the only one in the room that couldn’t hold in the laughter.

    The new me still thinks it’s pretty funny.

    • December 2, 2011 9:18 am

      Oh wow. I think when I saw a similar video in 5th grade, rather than laugh, all I wanted to do was cry. I remember in junior high (and I wasn’t alone on this one) getting the giggles whenever a teacher would say “do it”.

  6. April 29, 2013 6:48 pm

    I once was having a picnic time with my cousin and brother and my cousin’s cousins from Germany, so pretensious, talking only German to his German sister (ruuude) and I thought, “What if Scooby Doo came to the picnic table behind the German kids and say, “ROOBY ROO! I WANNA SKOOBY SCHNAK!”, and I tried to hold back ( always better to leave or laugh ). Well I laughed as I drank my fruit punch at the Summer time picnic and IT CAME OUT MY NOSE and in front of all these serious bastards my drink was coming out my mouth as I was choking and laughing.

    Their German dad was fat with tiny legs and socks up to his knees! Welcome to Amerika, Ya Vol!! Now he’s bankrupted himself and begs the family for money after embezzling money from his mom. I mightve been less serious and laugh but I was surrounded by a lot of up tight, serious and mean unhappy people. Laughing was necessary to stay sane. I still do this and I impose preposterous irreverent pictures on others.

    Frank & beans in a can,

  7. June 23, 2013 8:30 pm

    I thought I was alone in the world with this horrid malady! My (now ex) husband and I used to watch a local variety show “Paul Dixon”. He was hilarious but what a lot of people associated him with was Scott toilet paper who at the time was running a campaign about how easy it was to unroll the paper…Paul’s commercials were retro gold and soo damn silly. Well sadly Paul died, the local station aired a tribute to him with all the other local celebrities in attendance, all very solemn. We were watching and for some reason my husband was particularly devastated over Pauls passing. About 9 minutes into the program, when there would normally be a commercial break the thought of Paul doing his Scott tissue schtick started me off snickering, as my husband glared at me it went full-blown and I nearly wet myself remembering this really funny goofy man. My ex yelled at me and ordered me out of the room if I was going to be so disrespectful. I like to think Paul knew I was just honoring him in my own way…at least that’s what I tell myself!


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