Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

We like to joke around here.

Laugh with each other, laugh at each other, whatever. Case in point: Nate once crashed so hard while trying to boogie board on a surf simulator (look…you absolutely have to look), I was laughing too hard to even help him up. And I know that photo is shocking, but see, he was fine. Bottom line: someone falls on their face? That’s funny. This is understood by all.

We’ve fed the kids a steady diet of The Three Stooges and Jim Carrey (I let them watch parts of Dumb and Dumber, and I‘ve never in my life seen Nate and Cal laugh so hard as he did during the non-flushing toilet scene), but while physical humor is all well and good, it’s really at the crude end of the comedy scale, is it not? Charlie and I both prefer satire and sarcasm. Saturday Night Live (the good years), Reno 911, The Onion, etc. With fair regularity, we actually argue about which of us is funnier. (Me, of course.) The troubling thing is, despite consistently making fun of our children, as of the time of this writing, they haven’t quite mastered the finer touch of the sophisticated joke.

This is a worry.

For instance, Toby’s idea of high-brow humor? Rhyme.

And frankly, we were happy to see him grasp the concept. For several (long) months prior to this breakthrough, he’d mastered the sound pattern necessary, but lacked the vocabulary to conjure an actual word from the English language with which to pair his phrases. Everything was nonsensical: “Ice cream tastes like…wike!” “Going to gym to see some…lim!” Think Shel Silverstein scandalously drunk (or as a preschooler).

Now however, everything is in (somewhat sensible) lyric, which to his mind, seems to make everything wittier, cleverer, and just a bit naughtier:

“I wanted apple juice!…(pause)…Not a moose!…(another pause)…You goose!”

Hilarity ensues.

“Hello, jello!”

Uproarious laughter.

His best work came about while accompanying me to our sheriff’s department to pick up some Search and Rescue forms for a presentation I was giving. Before entering the building, I explained to him that the deputies inside (at least thirty of them) were taking an important test, and that we had to be quiet. We tiptoed past their classroom, where we could see them bent over their written exams in concentration, retrieved the paperwork I needed, and tiptoed back. You could have heard a pin drop. Toby was dutifully silent…until we’d reached the door. Turning back to look at the rows of officers, he shouted, “See you later, alligators!”

That went over well. (No, really, it did…he brought down the house.)

Nate and Calvin think they’re pretty funny these days, too. Last week, we were car pooling two other boys home from school when Nate asked the group at large: “Wanna hear a joke?” Well of course they did, so he launched into this long soliloquy having something to do with two ladies, an airplane, lemons, and matches. The only problem was, every time he got about one minute into it, he either messed up a fact or started giggling uncontrollably.

“Hold on,” he’d say. “I think it was just one lady.” Or, “Wait. Was it a lemon or a banana? Yeah, yeah…she threw a banana.” All told, this joke took the entire ten minute drive to tell, and was at least as painful to listen to as this past paragraph has been for you to read, times five. But unbelievably, the four other boys in the car (ranging from age 4-10) exhibited the patience of saints. Frankly, I couldn’t believe they weren’t losing interest as he absolutely butchered this joke, but then, kids often surprise me like that. When he finally did reach the end, the punch line (which I think he ad-libbed) was greeted with blank stares and silence.

“Get it?” he prompted. “The fart blew up the house!”

And once again…cue the uproarious laughter. Ah, boys and their unique boy humor. They’re so easily delighted, aren’t they? So easily satisfied. I’d attempt to squelch it if it weren’t such an appealing and lucrative future career choice. Adam Sandler: bravely paving the way for immature boys everywhere.

When they’re rich and famous, would it be too much to ask to meet Ellen Degeneres? Because that woman? Is funny.
blog comments powered by Disqus