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That’s Not Funny

As a kid growing up, my family enjoyed things that made us laugh. There were TV shows like the “Carol Burnett Show” and “I Love Lucy” and “Red Skelton.” Later came “Laverne and Shirley” and “Happy Days” and “Laugh In.”

I remember enduring endless questions in the form of knock-knock jokes from younger siblings who roared with laughter when “tricking” us with their answers. Half the fun was in the delivery of such jokes.

Just about everyone can recall someone who stood out as a jokester during his or her early school years. In grade school, I remember a boy who was always getting into mischief.

He would tease the girls and try to bully some of the boys. He was bigger than most of the kids in his class, and I think he used his attempt at humor as a way of dealing with being a little different.

His antics ended with his last stunt of jumping out of a window in the classroom to avoid punishment from the teacher who was pursuing him. He was not hurt by the jump, but I believe he suffered other consequences. He used his misunderstood brand of humor as a way to try to fit in.

Some people’s idea of pulling pranks can go just too far. Like the kid who thought putting M-80 firecrackers in someone’s mailbox was funny. It was until he nearly lost his hand in the process.

In high school, rivalries between competing local sports teams could get nasty. Sometimes it went beyond friendly competition. It wasn’t uncommon to find that someone had spray-painted vulgar slogans or pictures on opposing teams’ properties.

Personally, I hate being the butt of a joke. I guess I’m not as thick-skinned as I need to be. There have been a number of TV shows that have been popular over the years because they made fun of others in a way that was supposed to make us laugh.

Music today is full of song lyrics that tear down others, and our kids think that is the norm. No wonder there has been the need for anti-bullying programs in our schools. We go out of our way to reward kids for their positive behavior toward others when that should be the norm.

I guess we found out from Will Smith last week what he thought was not funny. Whatever you think of Smith’s behavior at the Oscars, it didn’t need to end with a slap. Maybe the whole concept of “roasting” others needs to be rethought.

Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but why do we feel it’s OK to make people laugh at the expense of others’ feelings? Carol Burnett never needed to do that, nor did Lucille Ball. And we laughed long and hard at humor — not at each other.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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