Laughing themselves sick

Miaomiao Gong

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone,

In Iris Murdoch's novel "The sea, the sea", The hero Charles was a retired theater director. One day he went to his friend Perry and they drank wiskey. Perry was drunk and he complaint a lot about his failed marriage and recalled their old days in theater.

"Charles, I remember your saying about old Shakespeare that he was the– he was the– only one. Him and some Greek chap no one can understand anyway. [Cut] Wilfred felt that. Sometimes I remember he looked so sad, after he’d had them laughing themselves sick."

<<Excessive quotation deleted.>>

Wilfred was also an excellent actor. He was their friend. But I don't understand "he had them laughing themselves sick".

Who are "them"? The audience? Why did audience laugh themselves? Who was sick? Were audience sick? Why?

Thank you in advance.
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This is an idiom that means he made the audience laugh very hard. If I "laugh myself sick", I laugh so hard that I feel sick when I'm done laughing. That is figurative language. People don't really feel sick after they laugh for a long time. I've certainly never felt sick after doing this, and I've been laughing at things for a very long time.
     

    Miaomiao Gong

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you owlman5! I am clear now.

    This is an idiom that means he made the audience laugh very hard. If I "laugh myself sick", I laugh so hard that I feel sick when I'm done laughing. That is figurative language. People don't really feel sick after they laugh for a long time. I've certainly never felt sick after doing this, and I've been laughing at things for a very long time.
     
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