The Frequency of Laughs in the Right Frequency

Yesterday I listened to a science podcast called Radiolab.  It was an older one of their shows and it was all about laughing.

One of the segments was about a scientist who was trying to determine if rats laugh.

To make them laugh, the scientist tried tickling them.  But he heard nothing.

Then one of his lab assistants got the idea to use an ultrasonic recording device that could pick up high-frequency sounds the human ear could not.

And sure enough, when they tickled the rats and recorded it with this device, it picked up these odd chirping sounds.  Every time the rats were tickled, they made tons of this noise.  It was just that none of this ultrasonic “laughter” had ever been audible to the human ear before.

I bring all this up because this morning I was writing my strip in a cafe here in Santa Rosa and the man next to me was reading the comics.  He had the comic section folded into quarters, enabling me to see that he was staring right at my strip.  I looked at his face to gauge his reaction.

But his face showed nothing.  Nothing.  Not even the slightest of twitches.

It was then that I realized he was laughing ultrasonically.

Like a lot of my fans.

I am more popular than I ever realized.

42 thoughts on “The Frequency of Laughs in the Right Frequency

  1. I’m commenting right now, but you can’t read it because it’s ultrasonic. Too bad you’re missing out – it’s pretty funny.

  2. I frequently laugh out loud at your strips. Much to my husband’s dismay it is sometimes in restaurants on busy Sunday mornings. My favorite one was when Danny Donkey pushed the people off Mt. Everest. I saved it and posted it on my office door.

  3. I also frequently laugh out loud, especially when you get things dropped on your head because of gophers.

  4. While I do Not Laugh Out Loud alot. I almost ALWAYS Laugh Out Loud whenreading your strip. BTW which cafe do you write in? They may get more customers because of you.

  5. I always laugh out loud at your strips and books. My wife just looks at me in wonderment.(Yes it is a word, look it up).
    I explain to her that they are called the funny pages for a reason. So, you can also list in your credits that you are a health professional as laughter truly is the best medicine.

  6. I’m trying to work on my ultrasonic laugh, because the people in the offices next to mine always wonder what’s wrong with me when I laugh out loud when I’m alone in here. Then again, they might as well know there’s a problem before they make it all the way to my office, since I’d prefer they didn’t come in here & talk to me anyway.

  7. I laughed out loud at your strip today. In fact, I linked to it on my Facebook because I’ve decided I’m with Rat on this one.

  8. The man in the cafe may have been laughing subsonicly which would be the way elephants an whales probably laugh.

  9. Well the next time I tell a really bad joke, that’s what I’ll think when no body laughs.

  10. To further your Rat scientific research, my hamster does make noise that you can hear with out any use of special equipment. She makes a noise when I touch her (it is kind of like several screeches) that sound like “GET YOUR DAMN HAND OFF ME” some are “AH! YOU SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME”, she does it in syllables, so you can kind of figure out how many words. When she see PBS, she makes a noise that sounds like a giggle-I need to record it someday, but I am really lazy, so when I get the laziness out, I will record her looking at PBS and making her giggling noise. You would surely get a kick out of it. As for me, I laugh out loud, same with my husband. The neighbors can probably hear us when we read PBS!

  11. Sadly (or happily, you decide), I found this blog more humorous than the strips this week. What’s with those gophers??

  12. I bet if those scientists had read your comics to those rats, they wouldn’t have needed an ultra-sonic device to hear them laugh.

  13. I bet if those scientists had read your comic to those rats, they wouldn’t have needed an ultra sonic device to hear the rats laugh.

  14. Hahaha! Sometimes I just shake my head while I read your strip. Other time I laugh and shake at the same time. Wanna hear about the groans?

  15. oh…you can definitely hear me laugh. 🙂 one of the few joys in the Coeur d’Alene Press.

    p.s. my favorite is the danny donkey on mt everest, too! 🙂 currently, it’s posted on my cubicle wall & i like to imagine it’s my customers/coworkers who are flying off the summit. it makes the day more manageable.

  16. “They may get more customers because of you.”

    Yeah, more “invisible” customers who don’t want to be seen for fear of affecting Pastis’ behavior. So many they’ll crowd out the visible non-fans. It will only LOOK empty inside.

  17. I laugh out loud when I read your strip. Have had people give me dirty looks when I do. Had one person say that it is irritating when I do. Not the way I laugh, just that I laugh out loud when reading the strip. @#*! ’em.

  18. I laugh out loud, ROFL, laugh ultrasonically, and subsonically at your strips. But mostly because you get paid to write terrible puns.

    They are laughs of jealousy.

  19. Yes Pastis, you are more popular than you realize.
    You know you have a lot of clipped PBS comic strips hanging on the fridge when the magnet is no longer strong enough to hold them all up!

  20. too bad ultrasound machines can’t read poker faces that or brain damage is a serious, serious disease.

  21. The non-laughing dude may be having the same experience at the cafe as you have at the deli. He wasn’t laughing because he was just sitting there, smoldering over the fact that his whoop-de-doo mocha latte with all the trimmings only had the trimmings – no coffee.

    It’s not a laughing matter.

  22. I love ‘Pearls’ so much that I bought the set of plush characters. They are so perfectly like the comic that I laugh every time I look at them. I swear that I can hear them talking.
    No, really.
    Uh, nevermind.

  23. Stephen, PBS is very funny. it strikes the dark sinister bone that Gary Larson knew well.
    As for these mice/rats laughing, I really think they need to turn the audio up on those machines. If they would they would hear the rodents screaming ultrasonically. ” #$%*ing KNOCK IT OFF, @$$HOLE!!!”

  24. Great post! Coincidentally, just last week I was getting a card for someone at a Papyrus store and happened to see a woman pick up one of my cards from the shelf. I decided to watch her to see if she laughed.

    She didn’t. No reaction at all. It was a little disappointing at the time but now I know she must’ve been laughing ultrasonically.

  25. I don’t know about that man but I do laugh ultrasonically when I read your comics (or any funny stuff) in public. Laughing is a social issue and people don’t feel comfortable when you laugh all alone 🙂

  26. Yes! Ratties laugh! And now they have proven that the *size* of the brain does not matter (look it up). So ratties are smater than many people you know.

  27. A lot of the time when I’m reading the comics I laugh ultrasonically. But I never do when I read your strip—I laugh out loud. Sometimes. Other times all I do is groan. But hey, at least it’s not an ultrasonic groan.

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