“Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God,” says Karl Bath (1886-1968).

We all agree that laughter is good medicine. But our life is a race against time. And we are looking for instant results and gratification. There isn’t much time to stop and laugh.

Physicians are no exception to the rule. In fact, physicians have to deal with sickness, disease and death all the time. So, do they find time for laughter?

Many patients have excellent sense of humour. These patients have a positive outlook in life. They generally do quite well with whatever illness they have. They make our lives very easy and comfortable. They show us that we, as physicians, should lighten up and look at the funny side of medicine.

Physicians are lucky that they have a magazine completely devoted to making them laugh. Every physician in Canada receives a magazine called “STITCHES – The Journal of Medical Humour.” It has 160 pages. Almost every page has a cartoon or two. Physicians write most of the humorous articles.

In the February issue of the STICHES, there is an article by Simon Hally: “Where there is a smoke – A modest proposal for discouraging tobacco use.” He says that for some smokers –like teenagers- the risks of smoking are too remote to be effective deterrent. Hally says the real key to an effective anti-smoking program is to make the risks more compelling and immediate. He suggests the following plan:

1. Tobacco manufacturers must be required by law to insert a small explosive charge at random into every, say, 100th or 200th cigarette they produce. The explosive shouldn’t be powerful enough to be dangerous – the objective here is to protect people’s health, not harm it – but it should be loud and smoky and very startling. This would bring a nasty surprise and embarrassment to the smoker. If the smoker happens to be a teenager then the effect of embarrassment would be immediate.

2. These explosives should be booby trapped with greenish, gooey substance. When the teenager smokes, the substance would explode on his face and on his designer clothings.

3. Some of these explosives should be booby-trapped with foul smelling gas, dye that will stain teeth, or substance which will give the smoker 48 hours of horrible breath.

Do you think this will stop people smoking? Especially teenagers?


Here is a doctor joke from Dr. Howard J. Bennett, a paediatrician in Washington, D.C. who has written books on medical humour. In one of his articles in the STITCHES, he relates the following joke:

A doctor died and went to heaven, where he found a long line at St. Peter’s gate. As was his custom, the doctor rushed to the front, but St. Peter told him to go back and wait in line like everyone else. Muttering and looking at his watch, the doctor stood at the end of the line.

Moments later, a white-haired man carrying stethoscope and black bag rushed to the front of the line, waved to St. Peter and was immediately admitted through the pearly gates.

“Hey!” the doctor said angrily, “How come you let him through without waiting?”

“Oh,” said St. Peter, “that’s God. Sometimes he likes to play doctor.”

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