Infectious Laughter

Happiness is contagious. Just ask Candace Payne, now known as Chewbacca Mom.
She gained the name after she posted a video of herself laughing infectiously behind a Chewbacca mask that makes Wookiee sounds like the Star Wars character. Payne found the mask at a department store, picked it up and accidentally triggered the whining call of the hairy one. It tickled her fancy. She bought it for herself, knowing that her two school aged children would want it in their stash of toys.
Payne quickly made a video using the her car’s dash cam. She wanted her friends on Facebook to know she claimed ownership of the mask with its pathetic vocalizations. Nothing special about the video, just a suburban mom, sitting in her car, explaining how she got the mask for her enjoyment. Laughingly she pulls the mask over her face, demonstrates the sound as she opens the jaws and proceeds to laugh every time she talks. She ends saying, “I kind of want to drive around wearing this.” She posted the video, picked up her children and noted her surprise a couple hours later that she had 1,000 views by that evening.
“Can you believe it?” she commented.
Before she went to bed, Payne was astonished to see a million had viewed her post. The next morning she had 20 million views. Less than a week later Payne broke all records for Facebook videos with over 140 million views. Facebook management invited Payne to headquarters where she joined Chewbacca riding bikes together.
By that time Payne had already appeared on several early morning news and late night talk shows. She has been given VIP tickets and passes to the upcoming Star Wars event in Dallas. The department store (which she mentioned twice in her original video) sent a store representative to her home with a pile of gifts, gift cards, shopping points and enough masks for each member of the family. Video clips of her appearances on the talk shows have also garnered viral views on the Internet. Payne interacts comfortably at each of the short interviews, possibly because she is a praise and worship leader in her church near Dallas, Texas and was the 1999 homecoming queen at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia where she majored in musical theater.
One of her first opportunities to talk about the phenomena came a couple days after posting the video when she spoke to the youth at a Creative Arts event at her church, The Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Texas, near Dallas. Payne is stay-at-home mom.
To the youth she said in part, “The thing that will take you further and farther in the Kingdom of God is three things: diligence, patience, and obedience… Do not try to make a name for yourself. His name will always out shadow yours.”
Candace shared on a talk show that the best note she received came from a mom who has a daughter with autism. The daughter laughed over and over again for the first time in more than two months as she watched Candace wearing the mask. Others mentioned relief from depression andgrief after viewing the video.
The Chewbacca Mom video pumped sales of the mask. Stores quickly sold out of masks. Masks posted on Ebay that had hovered between $10 and $20 a mask – with many unsold – suddenly saw auctions soaring to $100 and more. In the first flush of desire to have a mask, one person paid nearly $500 on Ebay through a “Buy It Now” sale that included free shipping. The price of a Chewbacca mask on now ranges from $50 to $150 for new and used masks.
This week, one woman’s infectious laughter provided a springboard of joy at the end of the school year and beginning of summer. With everything else going on in the world and nation, it is just what the doctor ordered. Or as the good book says in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”