Family

Embarrassing Our Girls with Laughter

Our girls don’t want me to go to the movies with them anymore. I’d like to think it’s because they’re getting older, but, really, it’s been like this for a while now. See, I embarrass them. Not because I don’t dress cool enough for them. No, it’s because I laugh too much.

Usually the theater is mostly empty, because we take in movies at second-run theaters, which enables us to afford popcorn and a soda to wash down our contraband movie candy. I guess because there is hardly anyone else laughing that Lindsay and Jacque don’t want me laughing too loud. But then, who’s there for me to embarrass them in front of? Tweens seldom agree with such logic.

Whenever they complain of my tendency to get carried away in laughter, I remind them that they’re fortunate to have a father who likes to laugh. I don’t remember my dad laughing much, except when he watched M*A*S*H reruns. I didn’t get Hawkeye’s jokes then. But my dad and the studio audience did.

I miss the live studio audience

I don’t watch too many sitcoms these days, except The Office religiously and 30 Rock occasionally (we also like The Middle), so I don’t know if this is across the board, but there is an absence of the studio audience of yesteryear.

The audience would inform us when to laugh, would get us excited about any entrance of the Fonz’s, and would remind us with their applause at the end of The Cosby Show that what we had just seen was, in fact, a show—where a family’s problems are wrapped up neat and tidy in 23 minutes.

I was always confused about the studio audience on shows like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Did people really show up to sit around watching some guy draw Fred and Barney and Astro? Oh, those were laugh tracks. Those canned responses that are much easier to control than cue cards suggesting the audience LAUGH!

I wish I had one of those devices Amanda Cosgrove’s friend uses on the set of iCarly. (Don’t judge me. My teenage girls hide the remote, and the satellite is perpetually stuck on Nick or Disney or whatever channel Good Luck Charlie comes on.) I could tap LAUGH and receive an immediate response to guide my actual audience when I’m trying to say something funny. It’d be like a portable rim shot. Like a little smiley emoticon tagged onto the end of my punch line. Sort of like Fozzy Bear’s “waka waka waka.”

Smiley Emoticons in the Bible

I like humor in church. Preachers who make me laugh from time to time. I think Jesus said some funny things, though we could maybe use some smiley emoticons among our red letters, since we, in a different culture and era, struggle to find his humor in statements like the one about a camel going through the eye of needle, which to understand you’d need to know something about Middle Eastern animals or at least sewing.

Someone once told me that humor doesn’t translate well from one generation to another, which definitely explains why my Sunday morning quips aren’t always received well. Have I mentioned I could use a laugh track?

I appreciate humor like I do any other art. It is a wonderful gift. Laughter. Even more fantastic is when my kids make me laugh. Our girls are getting older and developing their senses of humor. Something they’ll say will perk up my countenance and lead my eyes to dance.

Recently my wife and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. The day before at church a couple presented my pastor and his wife with a gift for their 35th anniversary. This couple was celebrating their 63rd. They’re still laughing together. To catch up with them, Cindy and I have 50 years to keep laughing at our joke of a marriage.

(Cue laugh track. That was supposed to be funny.)

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