Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1: Lessons in laughter from my dad

Today, I laughed at: My Drunk Kitchen: An American Tale
I am so out of practice at laughing, I kept looking for things to make me laugh today with no success. I got to look at the house we're moving into today and that was exciting, but there was nothing really funny about it, unfortunately. While at work, I was freaking out a little, feeling like I was a failure the first day of my 31 Days of Laughter Challenge. So I went to my rarely used YouTube app and the newest episode of My Drunk Kitchen was suggested for me. Thank goodness for Hanna Hart. Even though I hadn't watched the webisodes in a long time, the random clips eventually forced a belly-chuckle out of me.

My dad was always a funny man. He wasn't slapstick-funny or random joke-telling funny. He was always simply witty, sometimes with wordplay, sometimes with just the perfect delivery.

I asked him once when I was younger how he got to be so funny. And he told me, "Timing. Timing is everything."

What he meant by that was to keep my ears and eyes open, constantly observing, and also knowing when not to tell a joke. I was young and I would come up with a joke, store it away and I was able to pull it out and use it, giving the impression I was quick with a joke, when in actuality, I had pre-determined I would find myself in a certain situation and I should have the perfect joke prepared.

I find myself driving to social functions and planning what funny things I would say, even now. I know I will be asked how I'm doing, how's work going, how's L. So I try to come up with an anecdote or a pun to maintain my status as "the funny friend."

When Facebook came out with statuses (yes, I am old enough to remember Facebook sans status updates), I would painstakingly craft the perfect status. Not too obvious in humor because there was a certain balance and, also, I didn't want to raise the expectation for me to be constantly funny in my status updates. But, when I was satisfied with the wording, the spelling, the grammar and how humor content, I would press Post and wait for the Likes to accumulate.

The same went for Twitter, but 140 characters was sometimes too few characters for me to get out my joke. I honestly admire those who have made a living being funny on Twitter.

Me and my Dad. And my '80s jumper dress.

Another lesson in humor my dad taught me was, "If you have to explain your jokes, they're not really that funny."

Sometimes, through no one's fault other than my obscure trivial knowledge and my expectations that others know some random fact to which I'm referring, I end up having to explain a joke I've made, only to receive a blank stare instead of the laughter I was hoping for.

Luckily, I have the mentality to tell myself, "Whatever. That joke bombed. That just gives me motivation to make my next joke even better!"

Part of my job is to write headlines, including ones for stand-alone photos, which are usually my favorite to write, since I get to stretch my love of puns as much as I want until an editor reins me in. I have other editors roll their eyes at some of the stretches I've made, and when they do that, it makes me laugh even more.

The last lesson I was taught about humor is to be able to laugh at yourself.

My dad liked to take me for drives where we would talk about anything and everything. On one of these drives, I told him about a recent self-discovery I had in which I could find humor in every day situations. 

The humor wasn't necessarily "ha-ha" humor, but more like, "huh, well isn't that interesting." It's the kind of humor that comes from being able to take a step back and analyze what it is we're actually doing and questioning it, mentally noting the daily anomalies that occur seemingly unnoticed.

He laughed and told me that was actually his secret to coping with this crazy life.

Not every guy is cool enough to pull off
aviators and a leisure suit.
In fact, I think my dad is the only one who could.