List the things that make you laugh:
Why is this such a difficult question? I laugh. Too often, I laugh at myself. I laugh at my dogs, at human behavior, at comedians and funny skits or shows. But asking what “things” make me laugh is a bit different. What is is that makes one thing laugh-out-loud funny, and another not so much? Good question!
Last week at work, I had left a lengthy telephone message ending in, “please call me with that information” and was just about to hang up when I realized I hadn’t left a phone number. Does everyone have caller ID? Can we count on it? I snatched the phone back and continued “at…” then I caught Kathleen’s eye. We both burst into uncontrollable laughter. I couldn’t get the number out! Later, when I got the call back, the person at the other end assured me that she did, in fact, have caller ID, and said, “I wish my workplace was so much fun!” Why was it so funny, though? What made me laugh? It’s not easy.
- Predictable behavior: When my little dog scratches desperately at the door to get out and – when I fall for it once again – then skitters around my legs with what I swear is a big grin on her face and runs for the cushion to wait for her treat. When I absolutely know an over the top response to a statement or event is coming and – boom – there it is. When someone is drunk or tired or grouchy exactly as I knew they would be. It’s not always funny, but it often makes me laugh.
- Unpredictable behavior: When the quietest child in the classroom asserts herself over her ability to choose the color purple. When someone breaks into song or dance. When a mild-mannered middle-aged woman drops the f-bomb. A big surprise can often make me laugh.
- Foibles and missteps. Like when I almost hung up the telephone without leaving the number. Like when – in the winter of 1979 – Catherine White, working in the kitchen at the Shamrock, accidentally sliced Terry Van Arkle’s two pieces of whole wheat toast in half twice. All I had to do was serve him. I tried to say, “Well, today you have kitty-corners.” I was laughing too hard to speak, as was Catherine, looking out the passageway from the kitchen. It was nothing…but it still makes me laugh more than thirty years later.
- Sick humor. When I’m with certain people – those that I was a sick-humored child with, mostly – pain, suffering, disfigurement or even death can make me laugh. We have a collection of stories in my family of injuries and mishaps that we still recount to gales of laughter years after the event, and even when many of the participants are now gone. There was the time my Dad accidentally dropped the plow on his son-in-law’s foot, the time my sister Nita ran into the picnic table, and the time my brother David got sideswiped by a car, and was knocked into the lagoon. Among others. Sometimes it comes from a childlike fear or nervousness, and is one way of distancing myself from the experience. Not that it’s funny, but laughter can be a good outlet for extreme feelings. And, sometimes it’s just funny.