"Please help me welcome Long Island Mary!" the announcer says.
That's Mary Tischbien's cue to step up to the open microphone, and start her comedy routine. You'd never guess that she doesn't consider herself a people person.
"I was not cool in high school. I was super shy, to the point of have severe social anxiety," she said.
Mary says standup comedy helped her overcome life-long fears, thanks to feeling laughter's power.
Mary remembers her first time on stage.
"The room was full, it felt like a hug. It felt like a huge hug. After several shows, I knew this was it, this is what I want to do every opportunity. It helped me get over my anxiety," she said.
Mary believes her live routines help others on a journey of their own.
"Whenever you are positive, it helps your health. There are folks with depression, they will comes and say that comedy has helped them. That the show has made a difference, thank you very much," she says.
"I love seeing the look on people's faces when they are entertained," said former television executive Sherry Silber. "I was covering six comedies a week at ABC."
Silber worked on shows we've all come to know, like "Roseanne."
"I would get goose bumps, I knew the subjects were so emotional, and struck a chord with so many people," she said.
Sherry started a non-profit called RX Laughter. Their first big gig is helping UCLA researchers study comedy's affects on our bodies by looking at children about to have surgery.
"We measured how when they watched some shows how it affected them emotionally and physically," Silber said. "We found they were able to tolerate a painful procedure much better."
These days, RX Laughter promotes comedy's healing powers in and out of hospitals. It now teams up with Second City, providing comedy workshops for veterans and their families.
"It's unbelievable what people go through, and how they overcome their situations... it's so inspirational, and it helps me personally, it puts everything in perspective, and I want to share that with other people," she said.
Mary says, "I now am a caregiver for my mom, she has a lot of health issues, and we need to laugh a lot."
Long Island Mary says comedy is valuable to her mom who now calls herself - Long Island Marge.
"It helped distract her from her pain," she says.
Proof that a little laughter can help the body and heal the spirit.
Physically, the deep breaths you take when you are laughing increase blood flow. It also increases good cholesterol and "feel good" brain chemicals like endorphins, while lowering stress hormones and inflammation.
In fact, laughter is so powerful, one study finds just thinking about watching something funny helps boost the function of the immune system.
Long Island Mary:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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