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Funny as in Ha Ha

…by Julie Clark Robinson
“The most wasted day of all is that on which we have not laughed.”
 -Sebastian R. N. Chamfort

I\’m not even finished wrapping presents and I find myself thinking
about New Year\’s Eve. Not necessarily what I\’ll do – being married with
two children seems to solve that problem for a person – but more
annoyingly, what will I resolve to change in 2006? I could put a couple
years\’ worth of photos and home videos in order. I could drag my kids
around to every soccer, piano, dance and martial arts class I can find.
But, let\’s face it, I\’m not going to do that. I\’m not going to lose an
ounce of weight or do anything to make life harder. This year, I vow to
laugh more.

I can\’t help but to remember a day a few years ago when I heard my two
year-old daughter laughing that wonderful kid\’s belly laugh that you
just have to stop and soak up. The sound floated through the house like
the smell of home-baked cinnamon bread. But I couldn\’t figure out what
was so funny. She was just watching “Dumbo”. What is so funny about a
disfigured baby elephant being separated from his mother? So I went
upstairs to investigate. After all, maybe she was just jamming her
brother\’s seashell collection down the furnace vent again.

But when I reached her, it was indeed Dumbo that she found so
deliriously funny. I pulled her on my lap and watched with her. It was
a dream sequence where the characters float away inside of bubbles.
Every time a bubble popped and some unsuspecting animated doof dropped
to the ground she roared with laughter all over again. The more she
laughed, the more unnerved I felt. I finally figured out what was
bothering me. I was envious. I want to laugh like that.

To make matters worse, when I really thought about it, I couldn\’t even
remember what makes me laugh. Not just snicker, or to hear myself say,
“That\’s funny.” But the tears-in-your eyes, milk-out-your-nose kind of
laughter from earlier life.

My husband and son make entire afternoons out of the Stooges. My dad\’s
gone now, but I can still conjure up a great feeling in my heart when I
recall his laughter. Come to think of it, that man is the only adult I
can think of who had the belly laugh of a child. So, what did he laugh
at? “Rowan & Martin\’s Laugh In.” Maybe these guys are on to
something. If you find something that works for you, go with it.

So, I actually conducted a poll, consisting of friends and family. I
emailed men & women, parents & non-parents alike and asked them
what makes them laugh. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I\’d lost my
sense of humor in the flurry Mac & Cheese and Magic School Bus
books that have taken over my brain these past few years. Not so, as it
turned out. My “in-box” reminded me of some things that no crinkled
pile of homework from a wet backpack can take away. I\’d simply
forgotten the basic elements of humor.

Julie\’s rediscovered list of funny things:
“The Jerky Boys.”
 “A dog\’s face as he scoots across the carpet.”
 “Going into a voting booth.”
 “Phoebe on ‘Friends\’.”
 “Newscasters who talk to the wrong camera.”
 “Fat Elvis.”
 “Monkeys when they poop.”
 “Monkeys when they pick bugs off each other\’s heads.”
 “George Carlin. Jim Carey. The Cohen Brothers. Woody Allen. Will Ferrell. Any song by Adam Sandler.”
 “People picking their noses in the car.”
 “Clark Griswold.”
 “Figure skaters when they fall down.”
 “Lucy on the chocolate assembly line.”
 And my personal favorite:
“Ted Koppel using the word “homey\’.”

Suddenly, I remembered lots of things that make me laugh. Only last
week my ten year-old niece was talking about stopping at her favorite
restaurant along the highway and she mistakenly called it “Crapper
Barrel.” We laughed and laughed at that one. I\’m not sure if it was the
verbal slip-up, or the pure joy on her face at cracking a joke. Either
way. It felt great.

So this year, it\’s off to the zoo for me. Or the video store. Or maybe
just any place where I might see a person fumble a little and land on
their can. And, apparently, if they happen to have some kind of bodily
function on their way down, even better.

Activity Exercise: Watch a movie or a TV show that you know
you can count on to make you laugh. Out loud. Larry David\’s Curb Your
Enthusiasm is my most recent laugh muse, what\’s yours?

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