Make ‘Em Laugh

Donald O’Connor, “Singin’ in the Rain”

“Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
And you can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat
Just slip on a banana peel
The world’s at your feet
Make ’em laugh, Make ’em laugh, Make ’em laugh” – Make ‘Em Laugh by Donald O’Connor

I have written a number of posts on serious topics lately and I decided I needed to lighten up and be funny. You know, make you laugh. On command.

I am frequently described as a funny person. I hear it all the time. I look at the world with a dry humor that catches people by surprise and makes them laugh. I am great at coming up with a smart-aleck response to other people’s statements that shows a slightly twisted way of looking at the world. A lot of what I think of as social commentary, or an honest evaluation, is looked at by others as funny.

If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late. – Henny Youngman

Growing up it was my brother, Kurt, who was considered the funny one. To this day, I still think he tells a story better than just about anyone I’ve met. He knows how to draw you into his story and can drop a punch line with perfect timing. When I tell a story I am lucky if it’s only the punch line that I mess up. I get so eager to make you laugh that my timing is as off as a stopped clock. Knock, knock jokes are pretty much the pinnacle of my joke telling.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Little old lady.

Little old lady who?

Wow, I didn’t know you could yodel!

When I do get a joke right, I remember the occasion for years. Back when Viagra was first released it seemed like every other commercial on television was pushing its amazing powers of re-vitalization. The commercials ALWAYS featured an aging couple dancing on the beach gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes. At a family function during that time period the conversation veered onto the subject of Viagra. I have no memory at all of what brought it into the conversation, but with my family, just about anything can enter the conversation. When I mentioned that for the longest time I thought they were selling dance lessons there was a short silence and then everyone started to laugh. My mother, God bless her, looked at me and asked where I’d heard that. There was no way I could be funny on my own, that was Kurt’s job.

“What’s the difference between the first honeymoon and the second?
First honeymoon, Niagara. Second honeymoon, Viagra”

While I may struggle to be funny, sarcasm is my second language. In my family, sarcasm is learned at your mother’s knee. We were all raised in the knowledge that we could discuss almost anything with the adults as long as we spoke with wit and intelligence. Those requirements made a knowledge of sarcasm mandatory. The entire family, down to the youngest children, speaks sarcasm fluently. I suspect there’s not a person in my family who could not teach sarcasm at a collegiate level.

“I’m allergic to stupidity. I break out in sarcasm.” – unknown

Not everyone understands sarcasm. Literal minded people struggle with the fine points of the sarcastic tongue. I had a boss once who did not speak the language of sarcasm. He was incapable of catching the subtle nuances or even the broad strokes of sarcasm. A clever phrase would fly over his head like a well-hit baseball flying to the outfield. I eventually got to the point that whenever I, or anyone else, was being sarcastic I would literally have to stop the conversation to explain the sarcasm to him.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak. – Steven Wright

When I write, I struggle when I try to be intentionally funny. Without someone feeding me a line or inspiring my sarcasm, my attempts at humor tend to fall flat.

“Sarcasm is lost in print.” – Jon Cryer

However, I do know how to research jokes and am pretty proud of myself for choosing use only clean ones.  I hope you enjoyed them.

Q: Why do bananas have to put on sunscreen before they go to the beach?
A: Because they might peel!

 

What are your thoughts?