One of the best laughs I've enjoyed in a very long time was with my favorite 5- and 7-year olds during a sleepover last weekend. We had a "movie night" complete with what the 5-year-old calls "movie tables" (TV trays) that held popcorn and ice cream sandwiches. We three were decked out in our jammies with pillows and thin summer blankets, snuggled up on the couch to watch the DVD "Happy Feet".
"Happy Feet" is about Mumble the penguin (played by Elijah Wood), who doesn't fit in with the other penguins because he can't sing, and to find a mate, each penguin needs a heart song. But Mumble can tap dance, which of course saves the day for the penguins in the end. For little kids, it's a sweet story about a penguin who overcomes feeling like a misfit, but for older kids and adults, the subplots touch on immigration, pollution and the damage humans have done to the oceans and its creatures. Those parts weren't so funny.
Some of the best lines are delivered by Ramon, one of the Amigo penguins, played by Robin Williams.
Mumble: [to the leopard seal] See you fatty!
[the Amigos suddenly stop walking and slowly turn toward Mumble]
Ramon: That's cool! "See you fatty!"
Ramon: Did it take you a while to come up with that one? Alright, way to go tall guy.
Rinaldo: [reaching up to high-five Mumble] Gimme fin! Gimme fin!
Trust me. It's funny. You had to be there.
This is a movie my grandkids have watched alone at my house before, quietly, as I puttered around and did my thing. Movies can be such wonderful babysitters. Thank you, Mr. Disney.
This time, I sat down with both kids and discovered a whole other kind of experience.
The kids understood many of the jokes (there's the requisite potty humor and a small degree of harmless sexual innuendo), and when they did, they laughed, and nearly every time, they then looked quickly to me to see if I was laughing, too. This made me laugh, which made the kids laugh that much harder. I'm sure to my neighbors taking an evening stroll by my house, the unbridled hysteria emanating from my living room must have sounded like a whole lot of something going on. There was; the unrestrained laughter between two grandkids and their Noni. No cell phone, no other adults competing for my attention, and nothing more important in the world at that moment than those kids, a funny movie and an excuse to laugh our heads off.
I thought back to the times when the kids watched the movie alone while I was busy doing something else, and in retrospect, they hadn't laughed out loud much. And I know that if I'd watched it alone (which I wouldn't), I may have chuckled, but I wouldn't have laughed out loud, either. Together, our combined laughter was an infectious bonding experience:
The next morning, the first words out of their mouths (after, "what's for breakfast"?) were about how hard we laughed at the movie, and how much fun it was, which set the kids into reciting their favorite lines.
I know there may be times when I sorely need to plug in a movie as a distraction for my favorite little people when it's imperative to get something done, but if I can at all manage it, from now on, if they're watching a movie, I'm going to stop everything, get out the movie tables, make some movie snacks and welcome the opportunity for laughter.
With that in mind, considering the fact that everyone doesn't have access to children to watch movies with, and considering that we all need a laugh now, more than ever, I've created this column for us today.
I'll start, and I hope you'll participate by sharing your favorite jokes in the comments section. (Use your best judgement, please, and we will all make Barbara Rice very happy.)
Also, this is also a good time to try our first-ever pun-off competition, a suggestion by reader Candace Corbin. I've never been very punny, but I admire those who have it down to a fine art form (ex-husband No. 1 comes to mind). If you're one of those gifted punster people, show us what you've got in the comments section.
These first two jokes come from my favorite 7-year-old, who shared it at a recent family dinner:
Q: What do you get if you remove the eye from a fish?
Q: How do you tell a snowman from a snow woman?
My favorite 5-year-old thought she had the joke pattern figured out, and told her version of her brother's snowball joke during a Skype call to Uncle Joe this week.
Q: How do you tell a snowman from a snow woman?
A: Snow boobs.
Moving along ...
Q: What do you get if you cross a parrot with a shark?
A: A bird that will talk your ear off.
Q: What do you get when you cross a porcupine and a turtle?
A: A slowpoke
Onto some of my favorite adult jokes...
Q: What do you get when you cross a penis with a potato?
A: A dictator.
Q: What do you get when you cross a pickle with a deer?
A: A dildo.
I have a few more, but they are too nasty. I already shared my favorite erotic/kinky joke a few weeks back, but if you missed it:
Q: What's the difference between erotic and kinky?
A: Erotic uses a feather. Kinky uses the whole chicken.
OK, now it's your turn. It this works out, we'll do it again.
Less of the other stuff, please.