SAANICH -- The sidewalk in front of Joanne’s house may be still now, but a few weeks ago, it couldn’t have been more silly. She and her children — Rose and Baxter — had posted signs on either side of their property, declaring it a ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ zone.

“My favourite thing about the silly walks is that people stop to read the sign,” Joanne explains how groups of people would engage. “And then go one at a time.”

Joanne, Rose and Baxter demonstrate some of the wackiest walks they saw after soliciting silly steps. They stretch their arms and legs in asymmetrical directions, moving with an exuberant gait.

“We live near the hospital, so we have lots of people, staff [walk by],” Joanne says. “We though [the signs] would help entertain people.”

They weren’t the only people fighting the pandemic with positivity.

During my random search for stories, I found a few Ministry of Silly Walks (inspired by the iconic Monty Python sketch) in multiple municipalities.

I rarely saw people actually following the signs.

Joanne says that after a couple weeks of preposterous promenading, people stopped participating. That’s why her family started pivoting and posted new signs, welcoming people to the Ministry of Fake Laughs.

“It was one of those middle of the night brilliant moments,” Joanne says, laughing at the origin of the idea.

Was that a real laugh? I ask.

She answers yes, before her son demonstrates a fake laugh.

“Sometimes its like, ho-ho-ho!” Baxter says.

“Or heng-heng-heng!” Rose adds.

“Haw-haw-haw!” Joanne continues.

Joanne says they hear countless fake laughs daily. Perhaps people feel less self-conscious because the sign says there are no microphones recording them.

Although the fake laughs sound different at the start, Rose says they often sound the same at the end.

“It totally sounds fake, but then you [genuinely] laugh after!”

You fake it ‘til you make it.

If you watch the video version of this story you will see that’s true. After they demonstrate all the fake laughs on camera, we all (including me) end up really laughing.

While the Ministry of Health advises us to limit possible exposures to COVID-19, the Ministry of Fake Laughs encourages every opportunity to get infected with the giggles.