I must have a strange sense of humor, because so often people say things they think are funny and I don’t laugh. There are also things I find funny that were not intended to be funny. I very laugh during in the typical TV sitcom. I don’t like canned laughs in response to lines that are not funny. I feel manipulated, like the producers are trying to make a line funny that is not funny by following it with a laugh track. If I do try to watch a sitcom until the first commercial, I will find another channel.
I don’t get the English sense of humor. English movies are seldom funny and they all have weird endings. I went to a movie in London back in the early 60s staring an English comedian named Norman Wisdom. It is the only movie I have ever walked out of, because the attempt at humor was too nauseating. Humor must have something to do with our cultural heritage. My anal retentive stepdad was seldom funny, but he liked puns, so even though I try not to be like my stepdad, I like to make puns, which some say is the lowest form of humor. I am constantly trying to make puns out of what people say. Only about one out of ten attempts are worth anything more than a groan. Maybe I just have a poorly developed sense of humor.
My sense of humor reminds of Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” who repeated, “In Hartford, Harrisford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.” The only time she made the “H” sound was in front of the work “ever” where it does not belong. I am so out of step when it comes to what I think is funny.
I was going through the list of 22 humor prompts looking for ideas for something funny to write. I am at a disadvantage because I am of the wrong sex for most of the prompts on that list. I don’t have nip slips, I don’t carry a bag, I don’t wear yoga pants, and I don’t keep up with the Kardashians.
I scanned each option carefully. The one about women and their pants had promise, and I wrote a great 3-page response, including a photograph, but since it was about women wearing yoga pants, the piece went directly into the gutter and I had to abandon it. I just cannot write respectable humor about women in yoga pants. I established two criteria, the prompt had to be about something I thought was funny, and it could not descend into bad taste. These two criteria severely limited my options.
I found two possible prompts. “Funniest thing that has ever happened to you on a job.” and “Giving birth saga.”
The funniest thing that ever happened to me on a job was when I began my first sales position. I had previously worked for large stable companies; General Electric and Boeing, but BMC Computer Services was a small company that was run altogether differently.
They had an office in Houston and one in Denver staffed by Sam Love with his wife Debbie as his secretary. Sam was in Denver because he had a geographical non-compete agreement with the company he previously worked for in Houston. Sam and Debbie had offices in an executive suite where numerous small businesses rented individual offices, but shared conference rooms, receptionists, and telephone answering services. A direct competitor to Sam had an office across the hall from Debbie and Sam had reason to suspect that the competitor was stealing resumes from Debbie’s desk. He had reported the problem to the police and they suggested a sting operation where Sam placed the fictitious resume of an ideal candidate on Debbie’s desk. Sam previously considered something similar and used the name Ima T. Case (for I ‘m a test case). This time the resume was for a male so he changes the name to Ira T. Case. Ira’s phone number was Sam’s home phone number.
The competitor took the bait and Sam got a call at home for Ira Case and Sam, acting as Ira, agreed to interview with his client. This was a few days after I had given my two-week notice to GE. The competitor knew Sam, so Sam asked me to play the part of Ira Case. Ira had worked for companies that I had never worked for using software that I had never worked with. I went with a tape recorder hidden in a briefcase, to the interview with the competitor’s client as Ira Case.
Of all the possible companies to be Ira’s employer, Sam would have to pick a company that the client had worked for. He asked me if I knew specific individuals at that company, and of course I knew none of them, but I said yes to some and no to others. I left the interview with his explanation as to how he got my name on my recorder, so I my part was over. A few days latter, however, Sam took me to a meeting of the Data Processing Management Association, and when we walked in, the first people we met were Sam’s competitor and his client. The came up to me and said, “Hello Ira!” but my real name was on my nametag. I tried to bluff my way through it and they said I sure looked like a guy named Ira, but I knew was busted. It all came out when I had to testify in court against the competitor who no longer had his office across the hall from Debbie.
Sam was a fun loving guy who liked to drink and a bar was his favorite place to meet someone. Debbie was accustomed to after-work meetings, but my wife Nancy was not. A few days after I began working for Sam, he wanted me to meet a man at a bar in downtown Denver after working hours. As drinking goes, the time passed and it was later than I had told Nancy I would be, so I excused myself to use the telephone located just outside the restroom to call Nancy. While I was on a chair against the wall talking to Nancy, a young lady walked by on her way to the restroom and made a comment about my long legs that she had to step over. Nancy heard a woman’s flirtatious voice referring to a part of my body and thought the worst. When I got home every personal item I owned was on the driveway. It was such a bizarre scene that all I could do was laugh. I left my car in front of the house, moved all my stuff into the garage and went in house to tell Nancy how innocent the evening actually was. I don’t know what perturbed Nancy more; that I was in a bar with another woman, or that I was out having fun while she was home rather than the other way around.
Giving Birth Saga
Of course I have never given birth myself, but I had a friend from high school had a great giving birth saga. He and his wife were expecting a baby back in the days before ultrasounds and the expected birthing day was approaching. It was in the middle of the night when his wife woke him. She was in labor. This was their first child and although they had tried to prepare for this day, he was extremely nervous trying to get everything together and get her into the car. The labor was progressing rapidly and the intervals between pains were getting shorter. He got himself dressed, fumbled around looking for his glasses, found some things to put into a small suitcase for her, and by the time he got everything together, there was a baby crying on the bed. Now he was really going nuts. He put the baby on his wife’s stomach and carried them both out of the house and put them in the back seat of the car. He got into the driver’s seat, but he had to go back into the house for his keys. In his crazy state, it took him a little time to find his keys, and when he went back to the car, there was another baby on the back seat. His wife has given birth to twins.
He went back into the house, and trying to be calm, called to get instructions as what to do and finally he got his wife and babies to the hospital. Mother and daughters were fine, but the irony of the situation, he said later, was that he still had to pay for the use of the delivery room.