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It's no joke. NDP senior wins oratory contest at Harvard for speech on laughter

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Notre Dame Prep senior Jamie Watson is a talker. And, her friends, family and even teachers think she's funny. She's also extremely driven. So, it comes as little surprise that she entered the 39th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament for Original Oratory along with 4,200 other hopefuls from across the country.

Jamie's smile got a little brighter last weekend when was one of six top winners in the two-day competition, besting 361 other competitors in her category to take home first place for original oratory Laughter—FDA Approved.

Jamie explains that her ten-minute speech was about the importance of comedy in our daily lives and how much laughter can truly benefit us.

"I use various studies and statistics to get the message across, as well as some real stories about how comedy has changed lives," she says of her speech, which, of course incorporated many jokes.

As this excerpt from her speech illustrates, Jamie not only writes her material, she also does extensive research and practices to hone her delivery:

"Did you know that in 1997, British researchers found the oldest joke ever recorded on a piece of papyrus? It was apparently dated to 2600 BC, and was written for King Snefru by his court magician. It goes like this: "How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish."

Granted, the joke may not be the most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard, but for the first written joke ever- it’s pretty darn good. Now let’s just imagine living in Egypt in 2600 BC. Locusts, disease, early death, heat....this magician’s joke may have been the only funny thing uttered in the year 2600.

Now let’s look at life today. Certainly not as terrible as how the Egyptians had it, but we still have reasons to frown. The economy isn’t great, people are losing jobs, and life is still tough no matter which way you spin it. Frankly, we have reasons not to laugh. So we don’t. We just don’t laugh enough. Whether we are thinking about the past or worrying about the present we just don’t enjoy some of the silly little comedies happening around us. Now that’s the problem. We don’t realize that laughing can help us….

…Now, as I said, laughter is not the best medicine, but let’s just say it’s almost FDA-approved for working wonders when it comes to both physical and mental health. Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a recent study by the University of Maryland. So it’s obvious that laughter and comedy can physically promote health, but it has also been documented in several studies that laughing, even for a straight minute each day can lower stress levels dramatically. Now if less stress doesn’t make you feel better mentally, than I don’t know what does! Even professional stress-expert and doctor/singer Jimmy Buffett once said, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”