Lately it has been a tad more difficult to find funny. My little adventure in West Desmoins, as highlighted in my July 3 column, “Trip to Midwest shows it’s good to get out of town sometimes,” pointed in the direction that my humor can take, namely one-liner land. The role of humor in my life has grown over the years, and has been especially important in these fascinating and perturbing times
There are many possible responses to life, including, laughing crying, outbursting with anger (I knew spell check wouldn’t like that one), depressing to the point of dark despair, and a myriad of permutations of all those emotions and more. For me, focusing on laughing is the easiest and most satisfying response to many situations. I do make room for lachrymal lavishness whenever I need to, especially when Charlotte dies in “Charlotte’s Web,” or in any of a number of movies with moving stories. Lest I seem callous, real life stuff brings me to tears as well, especially the horror of separating children from their parents – I have real-life experience in that one, and it had been a really tough road from age 1 to 30 or so.
Anger occasionally rears its colorful head (don’t people’s faces turn various shades of red, magenta, purple and occasionally green? (at least when I got car sick as a kid)), but since this is a column about funny not furious we will not be exploring this particular response to life.
Given my penchant for funny lines, we are fortunate to have had one of the more humorous writers from the past 100 years create a book that has immortalized a frog and a county. Mark Twain is one of my favorite stand-up comics (it is not widely known that he was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, N.Y., with his casket in the upright position).
It is my fond hope that someone chuckled at my weak parenthetical attempt at humor in the above paragraph. Now I turn my writing over to the master with a few humorous thoughts. With all due respect, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled,” a thought that has not lost power and is even more apropos today. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” Finally, “The human has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
Laughter has been credited with being a good medicine; some are so bold as to declare it the “best medicine,” but I think cherry flavored cough syrup runs a close second. One of my favorite forms of humor is what I choose to call “compact humor” or one-liners. They are fast, easy and seldom cause brawls. Try these on for size: “We child-proofed our home three years ago … and they’re still getting in!” “If you live in a small town, when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.” “What disease did cured ham actually have?” “I used up my sick days so I’m calling in dead.” “I don’t like political jokes; I’ve seen too many of them get elected.”
There are a number of comedians that I really enjoy, including Robin Williams, Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Lucille Ball and Gilda Radner. Hey, wait – this list looks like it might not be such good medicine after all. There are a lot of comedians that are still alive, including Dimitri Martin: “The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.” Eddie Murphy: “The advice I would give to someone is not to take anyone’s advice.” And Steve Martin: “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
After extensive research (at least 30 minutes on Google), I managed to find a quote from a local (born in Angels Camp), the late celebrity George Metkovich as reported by Joe Garagiola: “My first baseman is George ‘Catfish’ Metkovich from our 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates team, which lost 112 games. After a terrible series against the New York Giants, in which our center fielder made three throwing errors and let two balls get through his legs, manager Billy Meyer pleaded, ‘Can somebody think of something to help us win a game?’ ‘I’d like to make a suggestion,’ Metkovich said. ‘On any ball hit to center field, let’s just let it roll to see if it might go foul.”
If there are any stand-up comics out there (I have one buried inside me) that need an audience, make your way over to the Hotel Leger restaurant and saloon on the first Friday of the month, convince the host, Diego Curiel, that you are funny and see what happens. Curiel is the curator of comics for the Comedy Night at the hotel of many pronunciations. Good luck.
Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at email@example.com.