laughter club
n. A group of people who meet regularly to laugh, often for therapeutic reasons.
Madan Kataria, the Indian physician who is the originator of laughter clubs and World Laughter Day … started the first laughing club in 1955, after reading American writer Norman Cousins's account of how Marx Brothers films and extensive belly laughing helped to bring him back from a painful near-total paralysis. The Indian physician and four others went to a public park in the town of Mumbai and started laughing. …

Dr. Kataria originally suggested that clubs — which are offered free — meet outdoors early in the morning for 15 or 20 minutes, and have at least 25 to 30 members.

But the practice has become more relaxed in North America. "Our first principle is to do whatever you are comfortable with," says Steve Wilson, an Ohio psychologist and self-proclaimed "joyologist" who heads up laughter leader training in North America.

Ms. Lawrence starts her Toronto session with some light stretching, and then moves on to the main event: The women gather in a circle and Ms. Lawrence introduces the various laughs. The trademark of the clubs is a "ho-ho-ha-ha-ha" laugh, punctuated by hand claps to get the blood circulating, repeated at regular intervals.

In between come what Ms. Lawrence calls the "cocktail laugh" (the kind of snickering you emit over drinks), the lion laugh (tongue stuck out, hands posed like lion paws, and a roar), the argument laugh ("your body language is angry but you look happy") and the "vowel movement."
—Stephen Strauss, “Laughter: The best medicine?,” The Globe and Mail, May 24, 2003
For members of India's laughter clubs, mirth is a passport to healthy life. Loud cries of "I am the happiest person in this world" and screams of "Ho ho, Ha ha ha" rent the air last weekend as more than 2,000 people celebrated "World Laughter Day" at a public park in central Bombay.
—“No laughing matter,” The Independent (London), January 17, 1999
1996 (earliest)
Entertaining also was part of the DeLand chapter of Laughter Society Inc., which died laughing last year. Its reborn version has a different name — the Laughter Club of Central Florida — but the intent is the same.

Make people laugh, especially the elderly and infirm.
—Bo Poertner, “If El Carim has his way, reviving the Laughter Society will be his next miracle,” Orlando Sentinel, September 28, 1996
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