I Love to Laugh

It began in childhood with the Red Skelton Show.    Every Wednesday night it a was a refuge for me.  And refuge was a critical idea for me.  I was a child hiding a terrible secret from the entire world.  At times I hated myself.  Twice as a teen I came very close to choosing suicide over life.  The person I most needed to hide from was myself.  And humor helped.  Red Skelton’s gentle humor helped me to not only escape from myself for a while, it taught me to laugh at my own foibles and not take things quite so seriously.

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In my college years I discovered humor in written form.  Mark Twain swiftly earned my utter devotion as I read not only Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, but Roughing It, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Mysterious Stranger, and The Autobiography of Mark Twain.  You know, there are a large number of things in Mark Twain’s humorous books that make you cry, that make you angry, and make you think deep thoughts.  I basically discovered that humor is a way that smart people choose to think of things which helps to keep you sane and basically un-suicided.

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A beautiful portrait by artist Emily Stepp

It is obvious that some people become very skilled at humor because they have used it all their lives to fight the darkness .  Robin Williams is only few years older than I am.  In many ways his life has paralleled my own (obviously minus the wealth and fame in my case… but what would’ve happened if Robin had become a school teacher?)  I have depended on Robin Williams’ movies to keep me going, giving me insights in how to talk to kids, how to be a parent, and how to empathize with others.  Of course, I haven’t yet taken some of his movie advice.  I never put on a mask and a dress to deceive my own children.  But only time will tell.

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I obsess about humor and how you create it.  I gorge on things like the works of Dave Barry.  Do you know who he is?  Florida newspaper columnist who writes books about everyday life and the fools who live it?  I have to do a post on Dave Barry, because he makes me laugh so hard that milk shoots out of my nose, sometimes when I am not even drinking milk… believe me, I don’t know how that works either.

 

 

I love to laugh.  It makes the world right again.  I have laughed an awful lot for almost an entire lifetime now.  I treasure all the funny people I have known.  And I need to continue to try to make people laugh up until the very end.  Because the world is too often not a funny place.  It can be full of badness and sadness and suffering.  And as Mark Twain  so aptly pointed out, “Against the assault of laughter… nothing can stand.”

11 Comments

Filed under autobiography, clowns, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

11 responses to “I Love to Laugh

  1. Enjoy Twain’s short essay humor esp the one about getting a lightening rod installed at his house.

  2. This is scary. I begged my parents to let me stay up to see the entire Red Skelton show. My bedtime was halfway through. If I was good, I got to stay up. What a talent.

  3. I spent so much focus on Red, I forgot to ask if you ever hopped on your desk like Robin Williams’ Mr. Keating did in “Dead Poets Society?”

    • Nope. I shot the students with finger guns, drew cartoons of them on the chalkboard, made them add their own writing to stories other kids started… but I never did any of that creative “look at things from a new angle” stuff. More’s the pity. I did on occasion have to get students to stand on their chairs and say answers loudly… though not loud enough for principals to hear.

      • I like finishing others’ stories. Standing on chairs would be interesting. You reminded of a true story on an old CEO of my company who would stand on his chair to make a toast at a business party. Unfortunately, it would be long after his first drink of the night, so on occasion, he would fall backwards. It was not rare, so colleagues would stand behind him just in case.

      • Ah, yes. You remind me of the reason why we never wanted principals to know when we were doing shout-outs. They don’t like letting students risk falling when the teacher told them they could do the thing to begin with.

  4. Good old Red. And thank heaven for Mad Magazine! And Laugh-In.

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