Everyone needs a laugh. That is the message of veteran humorist Loretta LaRoche, especially, as she says, in this age when someone could read your e-mails at your funeral.
“When you are continuously fed negative messages about the human condition, it permeates society. People get cynical and distrustful and lose the ability to feel joyful and what is good,” said LaRoche who is back to perform in the area on April 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton.
Her appearance, along with comedians Kelly MacFarland, Kerri Louise and Mary Ellen Rinaldi, is being presented by Loretta LaRoche Productions and The Republican series, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
“Loretta first appeared at a sold-out ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ event on Sept. 25, 2001 at the Hippodrome. The women in the audience loved Loretta so much, that they asked us to bring her back. In September of 2003, Loretta returned, this time to Springfield’s Symphony Hall, where she performed for an audience of 2,100 women,” said Maureen Sullivan, marketing director for The Republican.
“Much has happened in the world in the past seven years, and we knew Loretta would be able to take a humorous look at all of that and how our lives have changed. It’s time to bring Loretta back for a night of fun and laughter, to enjoy her wit, irreverent humor and infectious laugh.”
LaRoche said the performers who will be joining her for “Women in Comedy” are veteran entertainers whom “the audience will get a kick out of.”
MacFarland has opened for Melissa Etheridge and LeAnn Rimes and was on season one of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”
Louise, one of the finalists on “Last Comic Standing,” has appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Access Hollywood” and “The View.”
Rinaldi bills herself as a “comedienne, professional speaker, and storyteller with real life tales and observations that are funny and insightful.”
LaRoche, who is founder of a company that works with corporate clients to manage stress in the workplace, is author of seven books, has done six one-woman TV specials on PBS and been nominated for local and prime-time Emmys.
In her career of more than 30 years, she uses wit – and sometimes the impersonation of famous characters – to give listeners insight into their stressed lifestyles.
“I focus on what people might do to create a positive outcome and see more of the humor around them. I try to get them to lighten up a little and consider how we think about our lives and what others do,” LaRoche said.
She hopes people get her message to “take a realistic look and understand you can laugh at something, especially the minor things.”
“Say somebody stacks the dishwasher the wrong way. This is not the moment to go off the deep end but to see a little humor in it and figure out the problem. Otherwise, the catastropies become worse and worse and you end up at the end of a cliff. You are going to fall over unless you grab a branch,” LaRoche said.
LaRoche said what she refers to as “the misery index” has “definitely risen.”
“People in America are more dissatisfied than ever. They are worried and rightly so,” LaRoche said.
She feels that while people had it harder during the Great Depression and World War II, she also feels people back then were “a lot more connected to what was important in life.”
“They had the ability to laugh, to get through hard times in an easier ways. Everything is so consumer driven today. Retail has become like a new church and all this text and twitter is stuff done in isolation. We are losing are social skills to short, choppy words. With what we do to our brain, someday we will just grunt,” LaRoche said.
LaRoche grew up in an Italian family where community was built around meal making and eating together.
“There is a lot of depression in this country and obesity linked to stress. People eat to comfort themselves. There are no watching grandmothers to say you are eating to much,” she said.
“We are brought into thinking that being busy is a way of feeling good. If someone doesn’t do anything today, they are probably sick. People have conversation about how busy they are and try to outdo each other.”
While LaRoche shies away from commenting on how her long career has made a difference in people’s lives, she says she does get e-mails from as far away as India, Romania and Japan.
“I don’t take myself too seriously. Certainly my family doesn’t make me feel like a star. I still have to do the food shopping.
“It is a crazy thing, though, impacting someone else’s life. I got a call once from a young woman in Minnesota. Her mother, who was dying of cancer, loved my work and my Attila the Hun hat. She wanted one of to be buried with,” said LaRoche, adding she did honor the woman’s request.
LaRoche feels women spend a longer time worrying about something than men who “want to get it over and move on.”
However, she feels the “good news” for women is that they get together more often to “destress.”
Her approach to stress no matter the audience though is through humor.” When you point things out in a funny way, it becomes more embedded in the brain that waving a finger saying naughty, naughty,” LaRoche said.
“My goal is for people to get a grip and realize there is a way to get through. Instead of it trying to take us over, let us try to get over it, whatever it is. By being more resilient, we are more capable of being successful and possibly healthier too.”
TIPS FOR A BETTER LIFE
Humor and international stress management consultant Loretta LaRoche offered the following tips for an improved lifestyle:
More resilence: Making a list of your strenghts helps give a basis so that when you are in the midst of something you can say, I should be able to handle the traffic today. I’ve gotten through worse.
Better communication: Stop and think before responding like you are going to take out a grenade. Take a couple of breaths and don’t over talk someone.
Positive mood: Exercise is powerful destresser. Go for a walk. It’s the best exercise to have nature around you.
Higher creativity: Everyone is creative to a degree. Find your inner muse. For me it is singing. I’ve done it for a number of years and am making a CD. Do something you have a passion about and can’t wait to do.
Less anxiety: People have worries about real things but try to look at them in perspective. If something is wrong, try to figure it out without going over it every day.
IF YOU GO:
Event: “Women in Comedy with Loretta LaRoche and Friends”
When: April 17, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton
Cost: $25, $35, $50
For info and tickets: Online, (413) 584-9032, ext. 105 www.academyofmusictheatre.com