To keep from crying?

Robert Tait reports in The Guardian:

Amid simmering political tensions, a fierce post-election crackdown and a depressed economy, reasons to be cheerful are hardly in abundant supply in Iran.

Now Tehran city council has found an antidote to gee up down-in-the-mouth inhabitants : the good old belly laugh.

It is starting laughing clubs in an effort to reach out to people “who have lost the power of laughter”, according to the Tehran-e Emrooz newspaper, which is linked to the city’s mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Participants will be urged to guffaw away the blues in group sessions designed to tackle the stress of urban living in a city of 12 million people. The classes may also lighten the morbid atmosphere left over from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, which triggered a clampdown that opponents claim left at least 72 people dead and resulted in many others being tortured or raped in detention.

Clubs have been established in two cultural centres normally used for more high-minded pursuits such as concerts, further education classes and poetry readings. Eventually, the council hopes to expand the events to pensioners’ groups, health centres and even prisons.

I’ll leave the last word to Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) in the classic 1950s sitcom “The Honeymooners.”