Yesterday CNN’s Anderson Cooper got the giggles at the end of a segment about the Gerard Depardieu peeing-on-a-plane incident. It starts around the 2:40 mark. It’s funny and infectious but (a) the reason Cooper is laughing this hard is not really about Depardieu but something cathartic that only Cooper understands, (b) his laughter has this fluttery falsetto (amost eunuch-y) sound, and (c) the last syllable of Depardieu’s name is pronounced “dyeuh,” not “doo.”

Cooper’s breakdown reminded me, of course, of a similar scene in Michael Ritchie ‘s The Candididate (’72). I prefer Redford’s laugh to Cooper’s — no offense.

Truly primal laughter is never about any one event or mishap or whatever. It’s usually about the release of tension and frustration, and it’s completely unsuppressable if you feel you’re exposing some careless, thoughtless or callous part of yourself by laughing. I once wrote about a tree-surgeon boss I didn’t like and how he broke down in tears after a gas cap popped off a huge chain saw he had lifted above his head, and gas splashed all over his chest and stomach and lower flank. He was so angry and frustrated that he openly wept — literally going “whoa-hoo-hoo!” — and I started giggling at the whole spectacle. I had to suppress it, of course, or he would have killed me. But I couldn’t stop.