“That’s what she said.”
I was 9 when I was about to go to public school again (after a 4 year hiatus of “homeschooling.” *or as I affectionately call it: “homing” because not much “schooling” happened.*
I still learned a great many things somehow. But not the same kinds of things my peers were learning.
For example: television taught me, “if you want to be liked at public school, pick one of the categories of likable characters in sitcoms. Then “be” that.”
I didn’t think I was a jock, I “knew” I wasn’t a cheerleader. I didn’t think being “brainy” was me either because (how was I supposed to know I was smart!?! I hadn’t even been tested at a real school yet!)… what did that leave me with? “The funny girl.” “Class clown.” Perfect. I think I could do that one! I knew how to make my mom and siblings laugh, I loved jokes, and being silly came easily to me.
But just in case… I thought I’d head to the library to prepare.
I sat crisscross on the humor section floor, reading joke book after joke book in preparation for school coming up in a few weeks. I thought this was such brilliant preparation for 4th grade. (My confidence was growing) I even tagged along with my mom and begged for my first jokebook at the store… The title was something like: “Best 100 Yo Mama Jokes”
That book was paper confidence.
Until I used it.
Lines like: “Yo mamas so fat her blood type is Ragu!” Or “Yo mamas glasses are so thick, she can look at a map and see people waving!” “Yo mamas so thin! Her pajama pants are ONE stripe!”
In my mind these were all knee slapping hits! In reality, 4th graders aren’t collectively huge fans of the comedy I was equipped with…
In one week, I had effectively roasted everyones “mamas.”
(“How to win friends and influence people” might have been a better option for me.)
“Optimistic delusion” seems to be one of the 23 chromosomes that makes me… me. The comedic “failure” of 4th grade did not stop my desire to get smiles, giggles, and hearty laughs from anyone and everyone.
My main issue was that most of my peers didn’t like the jokes I enjoyed most. I would quote Garrison Keillors dry wit and wordplay and they wanted the next laffy taffy joke. I could do both, but I was secretly in love with what I considered “real” and “smart” comedy.
Stand up comedy, Late night show monologues, SNL skits, and AM morning comedy radio programs were media outlets I lived for. Because I wanted to be liked by my peers I learned the easy “what do you call a cow with….” types of jokes, but I LIVED for jokes like these:
“Never say anything bad about a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. By then he’s a mile away, you’ve got his shoes, and you can say whatever you want to.”
― Garrison Keillor
“I love key lime pie, although it’s never made the proper way.”
“What’s another word for “thesaurus”?”
― Garrison Keillor
“Woman: Did you know that women are smarter than men? Man: No, I didn’t. Woman: See what I mean?”
― Allison Janney
*ALL OF THESE JOKES COME FROM MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD JOKE BOOK: “PRETTY GOOD JOKE BOOK”*
What I’m trying to say here is important. Promise. Because humor has been with me since I had my earliest memories. And I give “Humor” a high value point as to why I still can enjoy my life despite how tragic it has also been…
-When my parents would fight? I’d go upstairs and bring my 5 younger siblings with me to my room and make them laugh somehow.
-When they kept fighting all through the night and I couldn’t sleep through it, I would walk into the bathroom, turn the fan on to drown out the sound, and light on to read my joke books.
-When I got forgotten at school, was left waiting in the hospital all day, or left at home, I would always have my books to keep me company.
-When my dad would leave for weeks at a time, or my mom would be gone for days on end (leaving me in charge of the litter), I would wind down after a long day with these 3 things: my favorite fiction book, a journal entry, and jokes for dessert.
Those quick examples from my childhood have sadness, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and an element of hard attached.
But because humor was there… There was always light for me.
Humor remains a light for me in dark times.
I am not always a “funny girl” anymore. It’s more honest that way.
I am still collector of laughs and connoisseur of humor. I am a revealer of absurdities and a playful twist of phrase to throw off a peer and cause a genuine smile.
I feel powerful when I make someone smile or laugh. I feel intelligent when I catch something witty. I feel important when “I” can make someone laugh at an original thought of mine. I have done a GREAT many socially embarrassing things to get a laugh out of someone I love. It is truly one of my favorite things in the world.
Admittedly, I am annoyed that white women (mostly) have washed down some of the best words in the world with their absurd, mindless home plaques, 3D pop art, floor mats, and towelettes adorned with the message of: “Live. Laugh. Love.”
Those really are 3 of my main desires everyday.
I’d add” “Nature, Sleep, Learn, Eat, Orgasm” to that list if anyones asking…. 😉
*maybe I’ll make my own towelette for those same women and become a millionaire* (if writing doesn’t work out)
Either way, I mean it when I say:
(quotes by my humor heroines)
“Humor doesn’t come out of the good times, it comes out of the anger, pain and sorrow….Always the anger.”
“Deep-rooted happiness may require a sense of purpose. If I don’t feel that I am in some small way contributing to the greater good, holding on to happiness is like carrying water in my hands.”
― Paula Poundston
“…but I think comedy is more aggressive than that. It is a medium for revenge. We can deflate and punish the pomposity and the rejection which hurt us. Comedy is power.”
“I will always try to be happy. I don’t think people really understand the value of happiness until they know what it’s like to be in that very, very dark place. It’s not romantic. Not even a little.”
“Without the laughter, we’d all be dying too.”
“I’m proud of this ability to laugh at myself—even if everyone can see my tears, just like they can see my dumb, senseless, whack, lame lower back tattoo.”
“I never think I want to try to be funny. And humor, if there is anything funny, should come from a real place.”
“Comedy is tragedy – plus time.”
“Cancer is probably the most unfunny thing in the world, but I’m a comedian, and even cancer couldn’t stop me from seeing the humor in what I went through.”
“I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside. I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.”
“You can tell how smart people are by what they laugh at.”
“Why didn’t you talk about whether women are funny or not?”
“I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn’t.”
“People are their most beautiful when they are laughing, crying, dancing, playing, telling the truth, and being chased (in a fun way.)”
“The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.”
“Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.”