When You’ll Do Anything For a Laugh
I’ve messed up a lot of things, but rarely a punchline.
I’ll do just about anything for a laugh. It doesn’t cost you a thing to laugh but the payment you give me in doing it is more valuable than gold.
A while ago, I wrote about growing up being the awkward looking kid. I knew I was never going to get anywhere on good looks so something had to work for me. It was humor. Humor is my currency.
For most of my life I have been driving that car hoping the wheels don’t fall off. I have bought enough with that currency to make a millionaire jealous.
My mother is hilarious in her own right but in a unintentional kind of way. Once, when we were out shopping around Easter, two men came up to us with a microphone and a camera. They were clearly from a church. They asked my mom, “Do you do anything special to observe the holiday?”
With a straight face, and in all seriousness, my mother looked right in the camera and said, “We’re from back East. We have lamb.” I tell that story more often than is reasonable. Because it’s hilarious.
She has always known funny when she sees it. I took that check to the bank every chance I got. When I got in trouble, she would stick me in the corner, facing the wall. From there I would recreate every Gilda Radner character voice I could think of. I’m certain being funny kept me from getting the crap beat out of me when I probably deserved it.
I frequently made myself after dinner entertainment when my parents had friends over. Sort of a stand up comedian’s version of “dance-for-grandma.”
I had a boss who is an incredibly brilliant man. Most people were intimidated by him. He was a bit larger than life. We had a great relationship and he would listen to my ideas and I was never scared of him. He knew funny. If I was going to get anywhere in that company, it was going to be by making him laugh. I’ve always had the intelligence and drive to succeed. What I needed was something different.
Being funny has been the only way I know how to make myself stand out in a sea of others.
I have a friend. There is no greater joy than in making that man laugh. He feels it. You see his joy and it is addicting. That big laugh lets me know I have made him happy and it is like life blood. It makes me feel appreciated and it makes me feel adored.
Getting that laugh has been my acceptance. That smile, many times accompanied by a shaking of the head, tells me I’ve loved.
I am frequently the butt of my own jokes. I find poking fun at others serves no good. Self deprecation staves off self loathing. It’s both my defense mechanism and my savior. I make jokes about difficult situations to quiet the narrative in my head. It works.
Recently, I made a joke about leaving a date early because my date didn’t know who Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez was. It got the laugh. He really didn’t know who she was but it wasn’t the reason I stopped dating the guy. My joke was the coping mechanism to deal with the reality of the fact that we stopped dating because he rejected me.
Laughter is simple. Laughter carries no contract. At the same time, it’s a fleeting moment and long lasting.
At times, I have a had to search to find the humor in my life. But, it was always there. If I could reach in deep and find the funny, I knew everything was going to be alright. Because if I couldn’t laugh, my only other option was to cry. That’s not the life I wanted. I chose laughter.
Look around. Every day. Find the joke and make the joke. It’s there. It’s the dad joke. The “that’s what she said” joke. The self deprecating poke. The horribly bad pun. Get in that car and drive it until the wheels fall off.