Linda Boyne: Go ahead and laugh
Humor is a very individual thing. Fortunately, there are so many different types of humor there’s usually something out there for everyone.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh. I know a few who don’t know how to laugh, but once they loosen up and allow the humor to penetrate, they’re like new people.
That’s because laughter has actual health benefits. It increases circulation at a level similar to a treadmill workout, it raises levels of disease-fighting immunoglobulin (a funny word itself!), and it boosts brain power, making you smarter, more creative and more productive. So there! Ha! I’m not saying to forgo your workout in favor of a Mel Brooks movie marathon, but it’s OK to indulge in few jokes to lighten up the day.
Here’s the problem, though: joke telling really is a dying art. Think about stand-up comedians today versus those of years past. Old school comedians like Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Mr. Warmth himself, Don Rickles, relied on broad humor, delivering quick jokes and one-liners. They went with the mother-in-law jokes and ethnic humor and lines like “Take my wife. Please!” Then along came Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Steve Martin, who changed the complexion of stand up comedy with their monologues, story telling and observational humor, which has carried through to today.
I think kids are doing their best to continue the tradition, though, especially boys. They find jokes absolutely hysterical, particularly those that have to do with some sort of bodily function. My boys have hit the joke telling age. I love listening to them tell the same joke to each other over and over again, practicing to get it right with their brother before venturing out into the world with their new joke. Well, at least the first five or six times are charming. After that, I sort of want to stuff cotton balls into my ears.
At least they can master a joke, though. I can’t tell a joke to save my life. If my life was actually threatened, I’m sure I could deliver something slightly humorous. But I realized a long time ago that this was just not a skill I possessed, so I guess I stopped trying.
Sketchy memory may have hindered my delivery, come to think of it. A joke stops being funny when you mess up the punch line or have to start over three times to get it right. I tried to tell a joke again recently when I found out Joe Biden had been named Obama’s running mate. It was one based on his plagiarism scandal in 1988 when he was running for president; that should give you an idea of how long ago I gave up telling jokes. But I had such trouble remember all the players and the order of who said what that the punch line just sort of hung out there for a while before falling flat. Just so sad, really.
Some people just have the joke gene. My dad is a man a few words, but he’s a great joke teller, and it’s kind of unexpected coming from him. He starts them very conversationally, so most of the time you don’t even know what’s coming. He has great delivery and timing. Some of my favorite jokes of all time I heard from my dad. I’ve even tried copying his style, but it doesn’t work for me.
I also have a friend who is the king of jokes. His delivery is flawless, he does any needed accents perfectly and, most impressively, he quite literally has a joke for every topic, situation or location. My husband marvels at his collection; he swears he has a mental Rolodex he can flip through at will to access what he needs for any given subject. It’s truly fascinating to me. Sometimes I’ll bring up some obscure topic of conversation just to see if he can find that thread of connection to make one of his gems a part of the exchange.
Whatever your humor preference is, just make sure to share a good laugh with someone today. There’s no better, or healthier, way to start off the week!
Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident. A former Vail Trail columnist, her column will now run on Mondays in the Vail Daily.
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