The Hardest I’ve Ever Laughed

Macalester CollegeRecently I attended an improv night at Pat’s Bar and Grill in St. Louis. A friend is involved in an improv class there, so she invited me to tag along. I was impressed with the quality of the improv, and I laughed out loud just as much as I would have while watching a well-written sitcom (seriously, when are New Girl, Modern Family, Parks and Rec, and Community coming back?!).

It wasn’t the hardest I’ve ever laughed. But it reminded me of that time.

When I was looking at colleges, I focused on (a) schools that would let me major in Japanese and (b) schools that looked really pretty on their brochures. I did not consider the fact that I don’t like cold temperatures, resulting in me applying to Penn, Swarthmore, Middlebury, and Macalester (among a few others in warmer climates, including the school I ended up attending, Washington University in St. Louis).

Upon arriving in Macalester in February as a junior in high school looking to scout out the college, I instantly realized how much the cold would factor into my decision. Macalester is in Minnesota, and one of their main selling points was that they had a system of tunnels so you never had to go above ground in the winter. Also, the brochure mentioned that the tunnels helped people not get hit by cars while crossing the street. Great selling point.

Beyond the cold, there were three other factors that told me right away that I didn’t want to attend Macalester:

  1. A lot of people smoked. I had never seen that many people smoking–it simply didn’t happen at my high school. I didn’t want to go to a school where I had to hold my breath while passing through the clouds of cigarette smoke at every building entrance and exit.
  2. The dorm rooms felt like prison cells. They were small, cramped, and the walls were painted cinderblocks. I felt like I was doing hard time.
  3. No one wanted to be there. That’s a generalization, of course. But it seemed like every Macalester student I met was either transferring to another school or wanted to transfer to another school. That didn’t reflect well on the college.

An hour into my weekend at Macalester, I knew that I wasn’t going to go to school there. So I needed a way to spend the next 48 hours.

Cue amazing coincidence music.

It just so happened that every improv group on campus had joined forces that weekend for a 48-hour improv marathon. I had never seen improv, but it seemed funny and required no effort on my part, so after dinner on Friday night, I plopped myself down on the floor of some depressing building and started watching the improv troops do their thing.

In general in life, I laugh easily and often. But I have never laughed as hard as I did that night. Somehow in the middle of this school that no one wanted to attend, I had stumbled upon the funniest people in the world. Seriously. I would not be surprised if famous comedians got their start in those improv troops. They were simply hilarious.

So despite the failed trip to Macalester, I’m glad that I had the experience of laughing that hard.

Can you think of the hardest you’ve ever laughed?