What Makes Me Laugh?

Ziva, the poodle paper shredder. It’s never funny at the time. But tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Bloganuary is asking. It’s the WordPress blog prompt for January 7, 2022.

Lots of things make me laugh, and lots of things make me chuckle or grin. So, I’m setting the bar higher: What makes me laugh so hard that I can hardly breathe, that tears trickled down my cheeks, that I cross my legs tight, that I can’t stop laughing because everything becomes hilarious?

Very little.

I’m not a curmudgeon. I like humor. I watch a lot of comedy. I like reading humor. Satire is my favorite. I’m currently watching Upstart Crow on Britbox. The show is a parody and satire of Shakespeare and history and modern times all mixed up into one delicious, sinful sundae topped with the works. I chuckle and marvel at the brilliant wordplay and acting, but I pay close attention to the rapid-fire exchange of dialogue and that probably stifles unhinged laughter on my part.

I can’t remember any recent bouts of uncontrollable laughter. But I remember some past episodes. When I was about fourteen, my mom and I had an argument, so I stormed upstairs and refused to eat supper. She made me come back downstairs. My parents were getting ready to go out, so it was just us kids at the table. I was crying, and my mom was yelling.

My sister picked up the plastic milk carton, which was almost empty, drank the milk, then sucked the air from the carton, causing it to collapse inward. She pulled the carton from her lips, and said, “Good to the last drop!” I had just taken a swig of milk. Laugher and milk erupted from my mouth, spraying the table and my siblings. We laughed so hard. Mom yelled at us to stop, but that made us laugh harder. My dad told her, “Leave the kids alone,” and we laughed ourselves out in peace.

When I was about nineteen, I took my first communion at the Presbyterian church my grandparents belonged to. My grandmother played the piano and organ at the church. Almost no one was married or buried without her accompanying the event. The solemnity of the minister’s words about communion paired with the crackers and grape juice started me laughing. The more I tried to suppress it, the more I laughed—it was my Chuckles the Clown moment. My laughter so shocked me that I’ve never taken communion again.

The following are memorable works that reduced me to jiggling jelly:

Bud Abbot and Lou Costello performing their “Who’s on First” routine.

Carol Burnett playing Scarlet O’Hara in a parody of the curtains-to-dress scene from Gone with the Wind. (Burnett’s show cracked me up. I consider it the best comedy/variety show ever televised.)

Harpo Marx cutting a piece of material from the dress of a snooty customer in The Big Store.

Harpo and Chico Marx packing and unpacking clothes in a scene from A Night in Casablanca.

The final scene of Moonstruck when all the characters are gathered at the kitchen table. The movie is a wonderfully told yarn that culminates in a grand punchline during breakfast.

Anything written by Patrick F. McManus, Dave Barry, P.G. Wodehouse (especially the stories with Jeeves and Wooster) and Erma Bombeck, the first writer to make me laugh uproariously. I started reading her column when I was in middle school. I recently reread some of her work. She’s timeless.

Laughter is indispensable, so thanks for asking, Bloganuary! I smiled and chuckled while writing my answer.

8 thoughts on “What Makes Me Laugh?

  1. Pingback: https://writingnearthelake.org/2022/01/07/what-makes-me-laugh/ – Bloganuary

  2. Lovely prompt! I think the last real bout of uncontrollable laughter I had was long, long ago in high school in algebra 2 class. My friend, Laura and I had been laughing about something in class. I don’t exactly remember what we were laughing at but I do remember that it really wasn’t that funny. I think it was about our other friend who was left handed and how it unofficially required us to follow a seating chart or else you’d clank elbows writing or eating. Anyway, we were told to hush and class started. So we hushed. Until we accidentally made eye contact, completely lost it. We were then told to go sit in the hallway until we could compose ourselves. It took us at least 10 minutes and a couple trips to the water fountain to get ourselves together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The picture of Ziva and her work reminded me of the time many years ago I hung a new roll of t.p and left for work. When I came home, I found my angel Powder (the gray cat on the right in the pic) asleep on the couch after a hard day’s work. It looked as if it had snowed t.p. in the hallway outside the bathroom. The bathroom floor was hidden. No laughing that day, but I’ve laughed about it many times in the years since.

    Liked by 1 person

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