Bawdy in the Bedroom

Sex can be a serious subject — except, of course, when it's hilarious.

Although sex can be sacred, laughter can be a healthy way to spice things up. The key is to make sure both partners are in a playful mood.

"Laughter is the best tension reliever and sex is second. So if you're having funny sex, you're probably in good shape," said Mark Gorkin, the self-proclaimed "Stress Doc" with a gig as the Online Psychohumorist for America Online.

Both laughter and sex release oceans of endorphins, the body's pain-killing chemicals that can relieve stress and produce a euphoric high. In other words, laughter produces a double dose of feel-good hormones.

Compromising Positions

Sexual mishaps are the frequent cause of bedroom laughter. "I had a cassette rack hung on the wall over my bed. During the deed with my girlfriend at the time, the tapes poured all over us!" said Erik Bresocnik, 20, a junior at Boston University.

"We continued the sex in the cassette pool once we made sure we both weren't injured."

But don't crack jokes or let loose unexpected salvos of laughter the next time you're getting hot and heavy. Laughter can cut deep, especially when someone is all kinds of naked.

"My partner got a charley horse — she's got huge legs," said Hiro Taki, a network administrator in Washington state. "She's writhing in pain, and I'm cracking up, 'cause I'm thinking, 'How the hell do I massage a charley horse out of these legs?' She didn't think my laughter was funny."

"This girl I knew, in an attempt to be sexy, said something really stupid during the act," said Brian. "I couldn't help it, I busted out laughing ... she was upset." What did he learn? "One should be careful how they express themselves."

If you're laughing at, rather than with, your partner, perhaps you should ... zip it. "A lot of people aren't aware of the distinction between healing humor and hostile humor," Gorkin said. "It can be easily perceived as 'You're putting me down.'"

Serious Sex?

Especially in America, Gorkin said, sex is treated with such life-and-death seriousness that laughing in bed is like telling knock-knock jokes at a funeral. He attributes this to the perceived connection between sex and religion — also the trigger for a favorite anecdote of his.

"A woman named Georgia and I had been going out for a while — she's Christian, I'm Jewish," he said. "She happened to be a very vocal lover. She'd call out 'Oh Jesus, oh God.' Finally, she's doing her thing, and I get her attention and say, 'How about a little "Oh, Moses" every now and then?'"

We know what you're thinking: This column should be this funny every week. Right?

— Additional reporting by Jessica Dumpert