"Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God." Karl Barth
"Don't be afraid." Jesus
I finally found some (not even remotely close to) actual research-based backing for my heretofore mostly ignorant instinct that most churches would be well served by space for more laughter: check out Colbert, below. (I skipped to the relevant portion in the link. If you don't offend easily - politically - the first part is great, too, just not relevant to the fear-fending function of laughter).
I found it helpful. I think UW forgiveness scholarship Robert Enright is mostly right when he says that no one goes to church to grow the church (paraphrase). So laughter can also reconnect folks to the joy through which God first spoke abundant life to them.