Seth Rogen recently tweeted that “comedy is best viewed in a theatre full of people” — and he’s right.
Rogen tweeted the below when “The Interview” was released for streaming after it had initially been pulled from theatres, following threats from Sony hackers. Later, it was announced that select theatres would show the movie.
I need to say that a comedy is best viewed in a theatre full of people, so if you can, I’d watch it like that. Or call some friends over.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 24, 2014
Given the choice to stay at home on the couch or trek to a movie theatre, it’s likely that many would choose to stay in the comfort of their own homes. (And they did — the movie made most of its money in online sales.)
But Rogen’s comment could provide insight for anyone who watched “The Interview” at home and didn’t enjoy it.
It boils down to science. Laughter is contagious.
According to an NBC News report, a 2006 study from The University College of London measured a group of people’s responses to various sounds with an MRI scanner. The sounds ranged in emotion; some were positive and some were negative. All of the sounds stimulated some sort of response in the cortical part of the brain, and therefore, triggered the facial muscles to react.
The positive sounds yielded more responses, indicating that a happy sound like laughter can, in fact, “catch on.”
The brain is also conditioned to associate positive sounds with groups of people. In response to the study, neuroscientist Sophie Scott said: “We usually encounter positive emotions, such as laughter or cheering, in group situations, whether watching a comedy program with family or a football game with friends […] This response in the brain, automatically priming us to smile or laugh, provides a way or mirroring the behaviour of others, something which helps us interact socially. It could play an important role in building strong bonds between individuals in a group.”
This could explain why you laugh less when you watch a movie alone on your couch; you’ve associated laughter and comedy with a group, and there is no group sitting with you.
Does this mean that people who hated “The Interview” at home would love it in theatres? Not necessarily, but it might mean that they may have cracked smiles at James Franco and Seth Rogen’s absurdity, and therefore, they may have hated the movie a little less.
You might remember this next time you think you can skip the big screen for comedies — or at least invite some friends over.