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Laughter Is The Best Medicine, Inside Appalachia

Courtesy photos
Storytellers Suzi Whaples, Adam Booth and Bil Lepp

Can laughter be beneficial for our health? Research suggests that laughing can be therapeutic not only for our emotional well-being, but it can help heal us in a physical sense, too. One study from 2019, for example, tested the effects that laughter therapy had on a group of elderly residents in Japan. After four weeks the patients showed improved blood pressure and heart rate. 

So, in light of the possible healing power laughter may have for us, this week on “Inside Appalachia,” we’re listening back to a show we originally aired in 2016. It’s one of our favorites, and we still find ourselves laughing out loud when we listen to it. 

This show features three storytellers from the West Virginia Storyteller’s Guild, all of whom have won prizes across the country for their stories. They are all professional storytellers, who tell stories to audiences and teach workshops. We think the magic of a well-told story is needed now more than ever. 

You’ll also hear music from musicians we’ve lost to the coronavirus pandemic, such as West Virginia native Bill Withers who died at 81. Withers was born in Slab Fork, Raleigh County, where he said neighbors often pitched in to lend a hand during hard times. And we’ll hear from singer/songwriter John Prine during a performance of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Mountain Stage.”


Bil Lepp  —  Fire Bike

Lepp is from Charleston, W.Va., and was called “a side-splittingly funny man” by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and is a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest. In this show he tells a story called “Firebike,” about first loves and flaming bicycles.

Adam Booth  —  Roller Rama

The second story in this episode is from Adam Booth, who shares an experience from childhood at his local roller rink. The story is called “Roller Rama.”  Booth grew up in Cabell County and now lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va.. He’s won numerous awards as a storyteller, educator and musician.

Suzi Whaples  —  ‘Do You Wear Thongs?’

Storyteller Suzi Whaples, from Dunbar, W.Va, tells a story about the confusion that comes when one generation doesn't know what the other one is talking about. She told it at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., in 2010.

We had help producing “Inside Appalachia” this week from the West Virginia Storyteller’s Guild, including, of course, Suzi Whaples, Bil Lepp and Adam Booth. 

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music in today’s show was provided by John Prine, as heard on “Mountain Stage,” along with Bill Withers, Spencer Elliot, and Dinosaur Burps.   


Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2014 and works as the producer for Inside Appalachia. She's the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Excellence in Video," for a story about the demands small farmers face in West Virginia. She also won a National PMJA Award For "Best Feature" for her story about the history of John Denver's song "Country Roads." You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.
Eric is a native of Kanawha County who graduated from Marshall University with a degree in journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. He is an author, writing both nonfiction and fiction, including a series of thriller novels set in locations around the world. You can reach Eric at edouglas@wvpublic.org