Pharmaceutical giant Myzer Inc. filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles comedy club Laugh It Off, seeking to prevent the club from proclaiming in its marketing materials that laughter is the best medicine.
“They’re not qualified physicians,” noted Myzer CEO Albert Bailey, M.D., Ph.D.. “They’re making unqualified, unsubstantiated claims about an untested, alternative treatment, which could really harm people.”
Dr. Bailey expressed grave concerns that some in the laughter biz may not be taking depression – a life-threatening, incurable condition that generally requires a lifetime of prescription medication which can be requested from your physician and purchased through Myzer - seriously enough. He pointed out that with one in six Americans taking prescription drugs for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, clinical despair is on the rise - and it's no joke.
"It's an issue that can't be ignored," he emphasized. "And the trouble is, when people are at a comedy club, making light of their troubles, poking fun at themselves, laughing uncontrollably, there's a real risk that they'll forget they even have depression. And that's dangerous."
Growing still more somber, he added, “Not to mention, does this supposed ‘laughter’ medication have any side effects? Off-label uses? Has it been tested on millions of helpless animals?" He frowned and shook his head. "These are things that people need to know.”
Just as troubling to Dr. Bailey was the fact that Laugh It Off didn’t seem to be taking even the lawsuit itself especially seriously.
“Apparently the owner, Luca Mulligan, burst out laughing when he was served," Dr. Bailey reported. "He seemed to think it was some sort of practical joke. It’s not, of course. This is serious. Some things just aren’t funny.”
Nevertheless, despite their gap in perspectives, Myzer and Laugh It Off have managed to reach a mutually acceptable settlement agreement. Specifically, the comedy club consented to include in all its written and verbal corporate communications this disclaimer regarding the speculated medicinal benefits of laughter:
“While not intended as a replacement for prescription medication for depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric illnesses, laughter may, for certain individuals in certain limited circumstances, be an appropriate complementary form of treatment. Please note, however, that at this point, potential side effects are unknown, so if you suffer from depression, be sure to consult your physician before engaging in the alternative, untested remedy of laughter.”
Laugh It Off owner Luca Mulligan said that he is more than happy to read the laughter disclaimer before the club's nightly standup shows. “I’m totally comfortable with it,” he said with grin and a shrug. "And to think, they write this stuff for me!"
While acknowledging that Myzer has taken some flak for targeting the comedy club over what, to many, seems a relatively innocuous issue, Dr. Bailey made clear that Myzer is keeping in mind the bigger picture. "It's a slippery slope," he warned. "If we let people refer to laughter as medicine, what'll be next?" He rolled his eyes hopelessly. "Next thing you know, they'll be claiming music is therapeutic."