What does it take to make Donald Trump laugh? An investigation

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Story highlights

  • Donald Trump doesn't laugh often on the campaign trail
  • Some people have started to take note

(CNN)Donald Trump does not enjoy being the subject of laughter.

He has lamented over and again during this campaign that the United States is a "laughing stock," a global figure of fun for everyone from the Chinese -- most often it's the Chinese -- to Mexico and "the Persians."
    Given this purportedly dire predicament, it would be odd to see Trump hooting along the hustings. And yet, it's a long campaign. Hillary Clinton's laugh has been studied with Talmudic precision.
    Lately, though, a question has begun to percolate in places like reddit, the online message board, and with some of the reporters who now monitor the Republican nominee for a living.
    Does this guy ever laugh?
    He certainly jokes. He grins, winks, puckers and preens. Trump works to get his crowds to laugh, even when he's promising to make "them" stop laughing at us.
    But how about a laugh from him -- from the belly, mouth agape -- a real booming, sustained cackle?
    A few weeks ago, The Nation asked readers, "Have You Ever Seen Donald Trump Laugh?"
    Erstwhile Gawker blogger Brendan O'Connor wondered the same back in August, only to realize with some concern that he "could not recall having seen the Manhattan real estate developer laugh -- like, genuinely laugh -- a single time."
    A Google search yields images of Trump in what would appear to be the act of laughing, and he would chortle occasionally during interviews with Howard Stern in the early 1990s, but more recent evidence had been harder to come by. The conundrum came alive in a seven-months-old thread on a subreddit called "The Donald."
    The user Ebolatastic asked if anyone had seen Trump laugh "in front of a camera?"
    "My gf and I are actually debating it," he wrote, "and the press has too many articles titled 'donald trump is laughing at <group>' right now. I can't find any footage at all and cannot recall a single moment of laughter out of him ever in like 20 years of seeing him on TV."
    The responses came quickly -- but as "ImStanleyGoodspeed" noted immediately: "We all posted the same clip."
    That video, from a January rally in New Hampshire, finds Trump being interrupted by a screeching sound.
    "What was that?" he asks. "Was that a dog?"
    "Hillary" an audience member yells back.
    And with that: Donald Trump laughed.
    The code had been cracked, albeit briefly. Compare Clinton, a human person who most recently served as US secretary of state, to a dog, and Trump will chuckle. But many months would pass without similar mirth, and the questions returned.
    Would there be a reprise? The Granite State supporter certainly wasn't the last to insult Clinton in that way, but the candidate had, so far as we could tell, done little more than grin ever since.
    Until this weekend.
    Again, it was the mention of Clinton that made him whoop. The trigger: a suggestion by Trump himself, who was speaking in Pennsylvania, that the Democratic nominee had been unfaithful in some way to her husband.
    "Hillary Clinton's only loyalty is to her financial contributors and herself," he said. "I don't even think she's loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth. And really, folks, why should she be?"
    And then, again, he laughed.
    Case closed.
    Fast forward to 37:06 for the evidence -- and don't blink; it's more of a chuckle.
    If there are publicly recorded laughs this informal investigation has missed, please tweet them to us @CNNPolitics.