The Laughing Researchers or...
"How come you guys don't take this seriously?"
"Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility."
Mr. Thurber could have been discussing some of our on-site investigations but then he wouldn't bother about the part about 'remembered in tranquility' because sometimes we find humour and laughter in the oddest of moments.
I've often explain our "laughing" behaviour to people in these terms...
"If I took you, locked you in the dark, cold basement that's reported to be haunted by a VERY nasty ghost, you'd develop a sense of humour REAL quick!"
Doing "ghost research" is a serious business. It's also a realm of study ripe for comedy. Many times, giggling fits happen as people start realizing how weird it is to be sitting waiting and watching for paranormal activity in a strange setting. Imagine, if you've never done this, sitting in a dark room in an old house with a parabolic microphone and a camera at 3am in the morning on several cups of coffee... Needless to say, it's easy to "get the giggles".
This doesn't mean that the subject isn't being taken seriously, nothing could be farther from the truth! It's truly a combination of nerves and stress (hey, the place IS haunted!) and occasionally, the realization of how silly one looks with big headphones and a dish mounted on a pistol-grip unit in your hand or maybe you have a noisy EMF detector and probed lab thermometer being thrust forward in your hands towards the invisible.
This past Summer, I heard someone telling me about being on an investigation with a group where the sense of humour was completely lacking. I offered the description of a "funeral director at work" which the gentleman telling me about it agreed was an apt description.
Now I know that the study of ghosts and hauntings is essentially the study of possible survival of bodily death and in many situations, a careful and professional attitude will go further than a "joking" one but one must also remember, it shouldn't be "work". It should always contain an element of "fun" and I find that investigative groups work better when everyone is on very friendly and enjoyable terms.
There is a time for sincere and honest clinical behaviour and a time to realize that nothing is worth taking so seriously that you can't enjoy doing it.
If things are busy or a witness is on hand who is quite shaken up, it is imperative to put on a professional face and deal with things in a professional and serious way but remember, if someone cracks one joke or someone gets in a situation that's funny, it's quite alright to take a moment to laugh.
It's sort of like our message board "Off Topic" postings and the "Free-For-All" chats. Many find them aggravating and annoying because we aren't solemnly discussing ghosts and hauntings all the time. In my case, I spend at LEAST three hours per day and usually around five or six hours per weekend-day answering e-mails, assigning tasks, studying history, posting new information, answering people's questions, responding to submissions, etc., etc... Sometimes, I need a chance to laugh and enjoy a moment with the folks who frequent these places as I see our "regular" readers, "irregular" posters and chat denizens as genuine friends. (Heck, when people ask me if I have any good "true" ghost stories, I usually respond with "Approximately 300 plus... They're scattered all over the site.")
I try not to act like a "dork" or buffoon but once the serious side has been dealt with, a little laughter and a little fun is a good thing and it's truly a good idea for everyone in my eyes.
Enjoy yourself! Examine and learn and then HAVE FUN! After all, you only live once... maybe. :)