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10 People Who Literally Died Due To Laughter Overdose

Updated on June 14, 2016
Sir Thomas Urquhart
Sir Thomas Urquhart
King Martin I
King Martin I
Pietro Aretino
Pietro Aretino
Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell

10 People Killed By laughter Overdose

“Laughter is the best medicine”- All of us are familiar with this age old saying. Doctors even state that if you laugh every day, you will stay mentally and physically healthy for a longer duration. But this is not the complete picture as the freely available “best medicine” can also poison someone to death. Well, this may sound crazy but laughter certainly resulted in the death of these people.

10. Sir Thomas Urquhart

Born to an old landholding family at Cromarty in northern Scotland, Sir Thomas Urquhart is probably the most baffling, endearing, intriguing and downright odd writer in the history of Scottish literature.

Urquhart completed his studies from King’s college, Aberdeen and fought against the Covenanters at Turriff. He was knighted by Charles I and ten years later his strong convictions led him to join the army of Charles II, who was later taken down in the Battle of Worcester, England.

Apart from Sir Thomas’s writings, the most famous and curious case is of his death. It is believed that he died in response to excessive laughter on being informed by his servant that Charles II was restored. He kept on laughing for a long time before he got out of breath and ultimately died. Was the incident of restoration so funny? I don’t know about you but it was definitely a “killer” joke for him.

9. King Martin I of Aragon

Martin was born in 1356, in either Girona or Perpignan as the second son of King Peter IV of Aragon. During his lifespan he was married to two ladies but had no legitimate descendants as the children from his first wife Queen Maria were all dead and the second marriage did not produce any offspring.

Although King Martin failed to gain much popularity during his life time but his death made him quite popular. History suggests that Martin died in 1410 reportedly, due to indigestion and uncontrollable laughter. According to tradition, Martin was suffering from indigestion on account of eating an entire goose single handedly when his favorite jester (entertainer), borra, entered his bedroom. When king asked him where on earth had he been, the jester replied, “Out of the next vineyard, where I saw a young deer hanging by his tail from a tree, as if someone had so punished him for stealing figs.” This so-called deadly joke caused the King to die out of laughter.

8. Pietro Aretino

Italian author, playwright, poet and satirist Pietro Aretino was born out of wedlock in Arezzo. Pietro was very casually educated and banished from his native city. He wielded immense influence on contemporary art and politics and invented modern literate pornography.

Beside his own creations and being mentioned in the English works of Elizabethan, Pietro is well known for his death by “laughing too much”. Although some of the essential details regarding his death were lost but one thing was made clear that after listening to a joke Aretino laughed so violently that he suffocated to death.

7. Wesley Parsons

Wesley was a farmer by occupation in the United States. In the year 1893, he laughed to his death over a joke told in Laurel, Indiana. He kept on laughing for at least an hour and then died two hours after the incident. Many people tried to recover such an amazing joke. However, the original joke which led to his death was never found and nothing is known about the source of the joke.

6. Alex Mitchell

On March 24, 1975, Alex Mitchell from the King’s Lynn, England died laughing while watching the “Kung Fu Kapers” episode of The Goodies, featuring a kilt-clad Scotsman with his bagpipes battling a master of the Lancastrian martial art “Eckythump”, who was armed with a black pudding.

The man is said to have guffawed so hard that his heart gave out. However, some cardiologists believe that Alex would have suffered a rare heart rhythm disorder that would have induced a cardiac arrest when he laughed too hard.

According to his wife Nessie, Alex was still throughout the episode and then suddenly gave a tremendous belly laugh, slumped on the sofa and died. Reports suggest that Nessie later sent a letter to the Goodies thanking them for making her husband’s final moments so happy.

5. Zeuxis

Being a Greek painter in the 5th century BC, Zeuxis painted a variety of paintings based on realism, noble subject matter and independent format. Although his paintings have not survived to till date, but historical records suggest that his painting techniques created three dimensional illusions through manipulating light and shadow using colours. During his lifetime, Zeuxis was unable to find an ideally beautiful woman to pose for his portrait, so he selected the finest features of five different models to create the image of unique beauty.

Zexius is said to have died laughing at the humorous way he painted the goddess Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation) after an old woman who commissioned it insisted on posing for the painting. I wonder how loud he laughed on a humour that it charged his life in return.

4. Damnoen Saen-um

Damnoen Saen-um was an ice-cream truck driver in the Phrae province, 300km north of Bangkok. His life story was usual, ordinary and uninteresting but his death story was listed on the front page of many newspapers, saying “Sleeping Thai Man Laughs to Death.”

52 years old Damnoen laughed for about two minutes during his sleep and then stopped breathing. Reports state that his wife tried to wake him up but the man kept on laughing until he died. Doctors predicted a heart attack but the reasons were never clear and cause of death was accepted to be heart seizure due to laughing too hard while in sleep.

3. Mrs. Fitzherbert

On a Wednesday evening of April 1782, an English widow named Mrs. Fitzherbert of Northampton shire, England went to Drury Lane Theatre with friends to watch The Beggar’s Opera. By the time when popular actor Mr. Bannister made his first appearance, dressed awkwardly in the role of “Polly”, the entire audience was thrown into great laughter. Unfortunately, Mrs. Fitzherbert was unable to suppress her laugh and was forced to leave the theatre before the end of second act.

According to a report by The Gentleman’s Magazine, the following week: ‘Not being able to banish the figure from her memory, she was thrown into hysterics, which continued without intermission until she expired on Friday morning.” The news gained a huge popularity among the citizens of England and was thought to be one of the rarest cases resulting in death.

2. Chrysippus

Unlike King Martin, who died of laughter on listening a joke about “deer punished for stealing figs”, this Greek philosopher named Chrysippus of Soli died of laughter on watching a donkey eat some figs.

He was born somewhere around 279 BC at Soli, Cilicia, but moved to Athens as a young man, where he became a pupil of Cleanthes, upon whose death he became the third head of Stoic school. He was an excellent philosopher who advanced in logic, theory of knowledge, physics and ethics. Even though he was a well known leader of the Stoic but gained some more attention after his death.

History suggests two theories of his death. In the first theory, Chrysippus was seized with dizziness having drunk diluted wine at the feast, and died soon after. The second was quite interesting. According to the second theory, Chrysippus was watching a donkey eat some figs and cried out, “Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs”; soon after this he got out of breath laughing and died.

1. Ole Bentzen

Danish physician Ole Bentzen was specialised in audiology hearing. During the period when Ole was developing hearing aids for under developed countries, he went to see the film “A Fish Called Wanda”. While watching a scene featuring John Cleese, Bentzen began laughing so hard that his heartbeat accelerated to a rate of between 250 and 500 beats a minute before he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed.


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