Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Son the Comedian

One of the things you don't realize until you're a parent is that children aren't born with senses of humor. They develop, like tumors. Oh sure, you may be able to make a baby laugh by making funny faces, but there's a pretty good chance that said baby is laughing over the impending diaper change you'll be weathering. A true sense of humor, meaning that the kid starts to find their own actions funny, takes time to come to fruition.

For my son, that time is now. It is not a good time. Were it a tv show, it would be called "Bad Times".

Allow me to paint a picture, so that you get the full idea. I should preface this with the fact that I love my children, they just bug the hell out of me. I understand fully this takes me out of the running for any parent of the year awards, except for the one offered by the United Federation of Dickheads, and I'm ok with that. To thine own self and all that.

You know the guy at work who thinks he's hilarious but isn't even remotely funny, yet at every available opportunity he tries to be funny, all the while pointing out how funny he is, and asking you if what he did was funny? He probably has an annoying laugh too, and it takes all of your effort to not tell him how monumentally un-funny he is. I live with this guy. I make him dinner every night. I will be putting this guy through college. This guy is my son.

Here's an example of one of his latest routine. Prepare yourself, because it's a side splitter. He'll take a song, and change a word and then repeat it roughly 35 million times. Good stuff, yeah? Part of the problem is that he'll often times get a laugh out of his sister, which only encourages him. On Saturday, we heard "Old McDonald had a treat" all day. All. Day. By the end of the day, I was asking him to come up with a new song, a request which was summarily ignored as he continued to sing the old song, chasing laughs like a junkie chases that elusive feeling of their first high. I do have to admire his persistence though. Most people would have given up after five hours, but not him. He just kept going and going. That's my boy.

His humor isn't limited to changing the words of songs. Sometimes he'll say he has a different name. Sometimes he'll call something by the wrong name, or answer Dora's questions incorrectly. It's a hoot to have a kid who thinks it's funny to appear to be ignorant. Unfortunately, his sister doesn't realize he's joking, so she ends up trying to correct him, or worse thinking the door is a rooster.

A typical comedy routine of my son's includes him making the joke, then telling us what joke he made, then asking if he's funny and then laughing. Were he Henny Youngman, it would go something like this:

I just flew in from Cleveland and boy are my arms tired.
I just said that I flew in from Cleveland and boy are my arms tired.
Was that funny?

Now, repeat that 50 times and you get the idea. Usually we just say that yes, it is funny, but every time I'm holding back the urge to tell him that if you have to explain the joke, it's not funny unless you're doing a routine about someone who can't tell jokes, but even then you're not explaining the joke, more making fun of someone who explains jokes, but I don't see that ending well. I've also successfully held back from trying to explain that brevity is the soul of wit. I mean, comedy has an ebb and flow to it, and while it is a great feeling to make people laugh, you gotta know when to end on a high note. People will vaguely remember that you said something funny, but they'll certainly remember when you bomb.

Which brings me to why I think his humor, for lack of a better word, can be so annoying. There was an episode of Seinfeld where Tim Watley converts to Judaism and then starts telling Jewish jokes, saying that it's OK because he's Jewish now. Jerry goes and complains to his Rabbi, or therapist, I don't remember, and when the guy asks him if it offends Jerry as a Jew, his response is "No, it offends me as a comedian." That's not to say that I consider myself a comedian, but I can bring Teh Funny when I need to, and to see such patently unfunny material coming from my offspring cuts me to the bone. I even tried to teach him the "Know what? Chicken butt." joke and it was a dismal failure. Granted it was some time ago, but I'm sure that were I to teach it to him now it'd turn into something like "Know what? Hamster engine." and be repeated several hundred times a day.

I'm sure that with time, his sense of humor will develop further and we'll be able to share some laughs, but I don't see that happening any time soon. Furthermore, I'm dreading the upcoming 4+ hours in an airplane as we head up to the frozen north. If you hear of someone being arrested by Homeland Security for assault with a horrible sense of humor, you'll know who it was.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Hooray for sarcastic tales about the offspring!

The UFD? Wow, how do I get a membership?

Frozen north? I assume you mean New England (Greg wistfully sighs) Say hello to my homeland for me.