Sunday, June 01, 2008

First Man Standing...

So, a couple of weeks ago, my son bounced up to me and, out of the blue, announced that he had discovered his life’s calling.

“I’m gonna be a stand-up comedian.”

I mean, how am I supposed to react to that? Other dads have sons that want to be astronauts, firemen, or even doctors, lawyers, or presidents. Where did this come from?

My second thought, however, was more practical. “There’s a primary talent show coming up in two weeks…” Hmmmm…

In his hand, he had a joke book. It was one of those beat-up elementary school library joke books named something like, “1001 jokes that are so corny that not even your parents will laugh out of kindness if you tell them.”

Or something like that.

But we dug into it and looked it over. We found a string of good jokes that kind of tied together in a thread. I told him that if you change the jokes from riddles or simple “Doctor, doctor..” jokes, then the audience engages them more. You can still use the same punchline, but with a different setup, it feels more “natural”, and more funny. We worked a few over and he got the idea. Then we talked about adding extra punchlines after he gets the laugh that take a joke further.

Together, we worked it all up into a short minute-long set. We typed it and printed it out. From there, about every other day, he ran through all the jokes. The whole routine. It got pretty routine, too. By the day before the performance, he was running through it pretty fast, and slurring a lot of the words together, I think because he’s a ten-year-old with the attention span of a newborn gnat. He just wanted to get to the end.

“Slow down and say each word!” I’d remind him, “Give the audience a chance to laugh!”

Finally, the moment of truth. He was called out onto the “stage” (just one end of the cultural hall), and dove right in. I was amazed. He was clear, the audience laughed, and he looked like he was having the time of his life.

The best bits?

“So, I went to the doctor, and told him that I was having a lot of trouble seeing. The doctor said, “You’re absolutely right. This is a post office!” (laughter) “So, that explains my picture on the wall!” (more laughter)

“I went out to dinner. I told the waiter that there was no chicken in my chicken pot pie. He said, “Well there’s no dog in a dog biscuit!” That made me feel a lot safer about their kids menu!”

And when it was all done, he did the part he’d been most excited about: “Good night Tokyo! You’ve been great! I’ll be here all week!”

Afterward, I got a lot of comments from the other parents about how funny and articulate he is. I was proud of him for trying, and for doing his best. He’d also helped his little brother go out and tell a few jokes.

So, who knows? Tomorrow he’ll announce that he’s going to be computer programmer, or a game store owner, or a chef. I really don’t care what he ends up being, as long as it’s legal. We’ll explore them all. I sure had fun with him this time!

Mark Hansen


  1. Wow. Amazing kid. And an amazing father being willing to help him with all that. Way to go.

  2. Ditto that, amazing to help him with that. Props to you for encouraging him, especially when you were afraid he'd embarrass himself ;) More kids need that kind of encouragement, about anything and everything.

  3. Thanks folks! Making me feel good...

  4. late to the party (yikes-o-la weeks lately) but my heck that sounds like it was fun. I laughed out loud at some of those and Thor looked across the room to see what was so funny!

    Good times!



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