Laughter -- it lifts the spirit, enriches the soul, and boy does it help release stress.
And there's no better place to find some good, hard, belly-busting hoo-ahs than the Laugh Lover's Ball, which comes to town Feb. 13 at Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
Comedians for this year's event will be Drew Hastings, Tim Lee, Jeff Dye, Mary Mack, and the man who makes it all happen, David Crowe.
Crowe put the Laugh Lover's Ball together a few years ago in Seattle as a way to bring more giggles into the routine romance of Valentine's Day.
"I started with the simple idea (15 years ago) that everyone is looking for something fun to do on Valentine's Day," Crowe said. "Laughs seemed like an obvious choice so the Laugh Lover's Ball was born."
Crowe first brought the show to the Tri-Cities last year and a near sellout crowd packed the convention center ballroom.
"It's a comedy event that maintains an air of dignity, which is important to have when you laugh so hard champagne comes out your nose," Crowe quipped. "The ball promises high brow comedy with low brow delivery. ... Or, is that the other way around? Ultimately, it's an evening of sophisticated silliness the likes of which the Tri-Cities hasn't seen."
Hastings is perhaps the most well-known comic on board this year. He makes regular appearances on the Bob and Tom Show, which airs in the Tri-Cities on FM radio station 97Rock.
Lee is renowned for his YouTube gigs and Dye was a recent finalist on Last Comic Standing.
"Younger people, especially girls, love him," Crowe said of Lee. "He was actually a Ph.D. before he went into comedy. His show comes complete with postulates and theorems that make you realize that the relationship between men and women fall neatly into the graphs and equations that govern our understanding of mass and energy and the universe as a whole.
"You leave his show with a sense that if you buy a woman a drink at a bar its actually cosmically empowering, even though the money (you're spending on her) may be pouring into a black hole."
Mary Mack is as musical as she is funny, Crowe added.
"She blends her stand-up with silly songs that support her material," he said. "Like Thanks, but no thank you (which) is a song about what she said to a gang member who propositioned her to join (the gang)."
Mack also likes to jab the Internal Revenue Service.
"When I was in elementary school, I loved Valentine's Day because I got to give out those little Valentines with the perforated lines," she said via e-mail this week.
"I was so excited about separating the perforations, I filled out everybody's card in no time. Now I'm thinking of adding perforations to my tax forms so I'd get more excited about those. I already draw hearts and write 'I love you' on stuff I mail to the IRS anyway, so why not go all out?"
Crowe likes to blend different characters, using disguises, into his comedy routines. And the audience doesn't always know who he is when he comes on stage.
He was featured in a comedy special on Showtime in December and released a new DVD recently that's available at Blockbuster and Best Buy stores across the country.
The Laugh Lover's Ball is being sponsored by 97Rock and 98.3 The Key radio stations. Showtime is 7 p.m. Cost is $25-$50. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster either online at www.ticketmaster.com or call 735-0500
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org