Growing up, laughter was as part of my childhood as vacations, holidays and Sunday Dinners. My father’s laugh was easy and contagious and that sound is in most of my best memories. I can remember laying in bed at night and hearing my parents talk and laugh as I drifted to sleep. We would go to my grandma’s house and everyone would share stories (some true and some not) and we would just listen to the grown ups as they laughed and remembered. I learned how to be funny by watching my family and I grew to value humor. I learned that humor can help you to make friends, it can diffuse a difficult situation and it can help to tell a story.
The comedians my parents watched were men, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Dana Carvey. Every Saturday night my parents stayed up late to watch Saturday Night Live and most of the cast were funny men. There weren’t many funny women on TV at that time. However, there were many funny women in my life. My grandma, aunt, cousins and even my mother (who would disagree with me, but she is funny!) all were silly and funny and loved to laugh. I can remember attempting to be silly and being thrilled if a grown up laughed at me. I knew the difference between a pity laugh because I was a silly child and a real laugh because I was actually funny. My parents always thought I was funny and they encouraged it. They let me be silly and they would genuinely laugh at me. When I would say something that made both my parents laugh to tears, I knew I hit the jackpot. They loved everything about me, but I loved that they loved that I was funny.
In school most of our class clowns were boys, if you asked someone who was funny, they would most likely respond with the name of a male classmate. If you asked who was the funniest person on TV, it would probably be a male actor or comedian. However, in our family, girls could be funny too. I learned to not be so goofy in school and to keep my super silly self for my home, but I loved to laugh and was drawn to friends who loved to laugh too. I was not the type of girl who wanted to befriend boys, I really prefer the company of other girls and I loved the silly things we did and thought we were hilarious. I understood that maybe we weren’t funny like boys, but we were still funny.
When I was young and I would think about my future husband, I knew that I wanted him to be funny like my dad. I wanted laughter to fill my home and I wanted my children to fall asleep to the sound of their parents talking and laughing. I knew I wanted him to make me laugh and I really wanted him to think I was funny too. I dated many funny guys, but not too many of them thought I was funny too. However, I did not let too many of them see my funny side. I just sort of assumed they didn’t like my sense of humor and I decided to laugh at their jokes instead. Then I met my husband, and he made me laugh from the first moment I met him. I can remember our first encounter, he was easy to be around and made me feel comfortable right away. He also thought I was funny! I could tell he liked my sarcasm and appreciated my wit.
One thing I really appreciated about my future husband, was that he did not make fun of others to get a laugh. He was smart and kind. He told me that he had learned that true funny people do not have to make fun of others to be funny, and he has stuck to that advice for as long as I have known him. I love his sense of humor, how he uses it to make others feel good, how he uses it to calm me down and how his humor has held us together through dark days. I love how he can laugh as hard at Tina Fey as he can at Will Ferrell, he loves my funny female friends and laughs as hard at them as I do. He thinks women are funny and that thrills me. When I point this out to him, he thinks I am over thinking something that is pretty basic, but I try to explain how rare it is, he laughs at me.
We have three daughters and as they grow and their personalities began to take shape, we see that humor can be genetic and it can be learned. Each of them have their own sense of humor and it is fun to hear them try to tell jokes and of course it is wonderful to hear each of their laughs. I have seen my two older girls use humor to cheer up a sad friend and this makes me so proud. My husband and I love to laugh at/with them and encourage them to feel confident in their gift of humor. I love when I can make my husband laugh and I really love when my girls are there to witness it.
Humor has been a buoy for me. It has held me up on sad days, it has kept me grounded and connected to family and it is a part of my most treasured memories. Sitting around telling stories to make people laugh is my favorite thing. Funny girl friends are my favorite, I can’t think of anything better than a play date with a funny mom friend. When my husband and I get a date night, I value it’s success by how much we laughed. I have learned in our 15 years of marriage that money, jobs, homes and material items will come and quickly go, but if at the end of a long day we can sit on the couch and make each other laugh and let that sound fill our home – I will count that day as a good one.