Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soapbox: Funny?

I have been thinking about what constitutes "funny" these days. This is just one of the questions that has been making me feel very old and out of date lately. My grandson is in a phase right now where he thinks it highly amusing to say "no" to every request.  He says it, then grins, and does what was requested. But he starts with a blunt "No."  "Could you please put your coat in the closet?" "No"  "Do you think you could take those clothes down to your room?" "No."  etc. etc. etc.  Probably seven or eight times a day this happens.  Now, it is not the worst thing in the world, especially since he goes on to do the thing he was asked to do.  But it still grates each time. What annoys me most is that he truly thinks it is funny.

As a middle school teacher I constantly saw another "humor" that was more mean than funny. Times that I heard people say "I laughed till I cried" or wondered if it was more "crying until I could laugh."  People who think they are clever often start by devising nicknames based on physical traits, "Spock" of "Elf ears" for someone with pointed ears, "Sparky" for a child with hair that sticks up, "Four eyes" has been around for years and yet I was shocked that some of my grandchildren who wear glasses talked about being called that and being hurt by it. The old "It's just a joke" retort doesn't really cut it.  "Sticks and stones" admonitions don't really ease the pain. Humor based on making someone feel badly shouldn't be called humor.  And the only person who should be allowed to make fun of someone is themself. [I don't know how to do that grammatically but you know what I mean.] When I talk to someone who just made fun of him or herself, it usually develops that they said it because they would rather say it themselves first than wait and have someone else inevitably say it.  They say they know someone is going to say it, so they feel a little more control of it if they say it first.  However long it has been true it is still sad when the best way to protect your feelings is to make fun of yourself.

I propose that we start making a conscious effort to teach our children what really is funny.
Step 1: Find some really good joke books.
Step 2: Tear out or cross out all the jokes that are based on cruelty or meaness.
Step 3: Memorize some of the best, funniest, guffaw-producing jokes that are left.
Step 4: SHARE them with everyone you can.  Send them to me. [I'm going to try to collect some for Anything Can Happen Fridays.] Send them to others.  Let's remind ourselves and our kids what good, clean, not-at-someone-else's-expense humor is.  It's a thought.

Image credits:,

No comments:

Post a Comment