Jacob Mann

Hi, my name is Jacob Mann. I cover the Art Beat for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

Stories start in many different ways. This one is about capping off a challenging year with a good, healthy dose of heafty laughter, doctor’s orders.

Someone once said laughter is the best medicine. I don’t know who, but we still use the saying now and again. Someone else said that “a day without laughter is a day wasted.” I know who said that. It was Charlie Chaplin.

My job’s a funny kind, not usually in a “haha” way but in the kind of way that’s out of the ordinary even when it’s mundane.

I get to talk to all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, so any given day is never the same.

If novelty is the spice of life then I’m chock-full of cayenne.

Like you’ve no doubt heard countless times, whether it’s from a TV ad from some car company capitalizing on the coronavirus climate we live in, or from someone who’s really been affected by the pandemic, “it’s been a tough year.”

Whether it’s insincere as a corporation trying to sell you something or a real-life example you’ve witnessed or lived through yourself, the statement rings true all the same. We can’t deny it. It’s been a tough year and just about anybody you ask will agree.

In light of the light side of news, I’d like to take a moment to illuminate the topic of laughter, and how humor can save us all in the end, or at least make life more bearable along the way.

I’ve got laughter on the brain because I recently talked to Dena’ina Elementary principal Andrea Everett about how they honored their staff during Teacher Appreciation Week. They just wrapped up the second year of a new annual tradition is called the Game of Games Staff Appreciation Week.

Dena’ina teachers played a variety of games, performed funny feats, and dressed in colorful costumes across the campus.

Here’s what Andrea said about this end of the year treat created as a response to the restrictive and socially distant pandemic, “It’s just a way of having an excuse to do a whole bunch silly things and kind of cap off a really serious year,” Everett said.

As fate would have it, I also talked to a local comedian and all-around creative creator of content, Hillary Saffran. She’s said this about having a sense of humor, “I think humor is a gift to lighten stress. I think the body likes laughter. It’s a body’s natural way of relieving stress.”

I’ll wrap this one up with one more quote from my personal hero, the Tramp himself, “I believe in the power of laughter and tears as an antidote to hatred and terror. You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile. Anyone can make them cry, but it takes a genius to make them laugh. Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.”

P.S. I realize that nothing here was actually funny in a “haha” way, so here’s a bonus quote for the road that actually made me laugh. I hope it works for you too (no prior “The Office” knowledge required).

“I am not superstitious, but I’m a little ‘stitious.” — Michael Scott from “The Office”

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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