When I started this blog, I often questioned whether or not I would have things to write about. A friend of mine suggested subscribing to a “daily writing prompt” site. These prompts can be helpful as “thought starters,” but I haven’t really ever received one that immediately made me want to sit and write – until today. Today’s prompt simply said, “Write about a time when you couldn’t stop laughing.”
There are two stories that instantly come to mine and they both involve my best friend of over 40 years. Jeff and I have known each other since 2nd grade. For years, we’ve been able to make each other laugh with stories, jokes, gibberish and sound effects. As you know, there are times when laughter is appropriate and there are times when it is not. Both of these incidents fall into the latter.
You know that uncontrollable laughter that you get when you know that you absolutely should not be laughing? The laugh that no matter how hard you try not to laugh, and try to stifle that laughter, you just cannot seem to stop it from happening? Remember the Mary Tyler Moore when Mary can’t stop laughing at the funeral of a clown? No? Here is the clip:
My first incident falls into that category. Jeff and I had an English class together. As I remember it (and Jeff can correct me if I am wrong), we had a substitute teacher and we were working on vocabulary words. This meant looking up words and writing the definitions down on a work sheet. Well, you know how it is when there is a substitute teacher … we were screwing around.
In this class we sat next to each other. I don’t recall who started it, but we began looking up words, circling them, and passing the dictionary to each other with a bookmark marking the page to be looked at. You can imagine the words we were looking up. If you can’t, they were words like “penis”, “anus”, “testicles”, “feces”, “turd”, etc…
The more the dictionary went back and forth, the more we both began to laugh. The final two passes that got us in trouble was when one of us looked up the word “fart”. This in itself was funny. The following word that was looked up was an adjective to describe the fart – “raunchy”. The words were scribbled in a sentence: “A man let a raunchy fart under downtown Las Vegas.” (“under downtown Las Vegas” was something that Telly Savalas said in Cannonball Run II, which we found funny for some reason). By this time, we were snickering and doing every thing we could to hold back laughter and just couldn’t. I remember being called out by the teacher and not really being able to explain myself because I was still laughing. Jeff was laughing too. The sub stood at the front of the classroom shaking her head and said to me, “I’m still trying to figure out what planet your friend is from” and without missing a beat, Jeff yelled out, “Uranus!”
We both may have been sent to the office for that, but I can’t recall.
One of the cool things about TV series on DVD is that most of them include a Blooper or gag reel. Many of the flubs are performers or actors forgetting lines and many are because other actors are laughing or can’t stop laughing while recording the scene. Those gag reels will show take after take of an actor cracking up before the funny line of the script is even said. There were no “retakes” with my second story, as it happened live on the radio in Detroit in 1991.
I was working a weekend overnight shift one Saturday night at WMXD. I remember before I left for work, I was searching for something to take for lunch. My dad had recently been to some army/navy surplus store and bought a bunch of MRE’s. MRE stands for “meals ready to eat”. They are made so that no matter where a soldier is, they can rip it open and eat it. Some of them are actually quite good. He gave me one to take and I left for work.
Jeff came up to hang out in the studio that night and when I got ready to eat, I pulled out the MRE. It was barbeque pulled pork. First of all, when I opened it, it reeked! The smell was awful – almost like vinegar and cat food! I squeezed it out onto a plate and it looked disgusting! I can’t even begin to describe it to you. It was stringy and orange-ish red (the so-called “barbeque sauce”). I am sure that while the microphone was off we were laughing and describing just how gross it looked. Then I had to go on the air.
I remember opening the microphone and backselling the song I had just played. I was getting ready to go into commercials and had to read a liner card. Liner cards usually contained information about contests, concerts, or promotions that the station was involved with. I remember getting a line or two into the card and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Jeff moving around. As I continued to read the card, he waved a fork loaded with that gross pulled pork in front of my face. This made me crack up as soon as I saw it. I really hope that the information on that liner card wasn’t important, because the more I kept reading, the more I laughed. If I had been smart, I would have just quit and fired off the commercial, but I was determined to finish that liner card. It was reminiscent of when Elvis started laughing while singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” I can’t even imagine what the listeners thought as I laughed and read through that!! (I am chuckling as I am typing this, just remembering the incident!) Thank God it happened on the overnight shift, I probably would have gotten called into the bosses office!
If you are unfamiliar with Laughing Elvis – here is the clip (with the story):
The laughter continues with each phone call and visit from Jeff. We send each other silly pictures daily and leave voice mail messages that are incomprehendable for each other. We can still make each other laugh with a sound effect, movie line, or some made up song lyrics. Though we are approaching the half century mark … we still are like teenagers looking up “fart” in the dictionary … and I am ok with that!
I would love to hear your stories about laughing when you shouldn’t be ….