Recovery Strengths…Humour


i’ve always made people laugh.  i could make my dad laugh, and that was a toughie, let me tell you.  War makes you serious, i suppose.

Don’t get me wrong.  My dad had a sense of humour and a lot of his buddies thought he was a funny guy, but it was the kind of humour you don’t exhibit around women and children.  Unless you are drunk.  Then it is ok.  Don’t ask me.  They aren’t my rules.

And for all my tales of a tragic youth, i had a lot of fun as a child.  i really do not remember being terribly unhappy all the time, or anything like that.  Besides, i thought everyone had basically the same kind of family life, so it wasn’t like i sat around miserable all the time.

And i remember anytime our extended family got together, there was lots of laughing and joking and fun.  Both sides of the family.  And i already got a good share of the attention, as the eldest grandson, so making people laugh, well, that was a bonus.


We moved a lot and a sense of humour is a good thing.  People like to laugh.  If the new kid makes you laugh, he is in.  i had a decent sense of humour and would do weird things once in a while.

i read somewhere that the great comedian, Mel Brooks, was in a writer’s meeting and nothing funny was happening, so Mel opened the 10th story window and hung by his fingers off the edge until people started laughing.  That is extreme, but my family has lots of stories to verify my own weirdness.

One time my sister and i were in a mall and there was one of those knife stands.  My sister wanted to keep moving, but i insisted and so over we went.  Said i was shopping for a stabbing knife.

Girl:  “you mean a kitchen knife?”  Me:  “i suppose you could use it in the kitchen.  It’s for stabbing. ” Girl:  “Stabbing?”  Me:  “Yes.  For stabbing.” (i made a stabbing motion for effect).  Girl: (eyes a little large for that time of day) “What are you stabbing?”  Me:  “Don’t see as that really matters.  It’s for stabbing.”

That was enough for my sister who muttered something about me being embarrassing and headed on down the mall.   My mission complete i said, “Sorry.  Got to go.  i’ll try to come back later.”  True story.  One of many.  Did i tell you i did not find out i was bipolar until 2001 at the tender age of 42?

Yup.  Functioned in society just fine, thanks.  Just like Robin Williams and his mentor, Jonathan Winters.  They were both bipolar and strangely, i was often compared to them.  That kind of functioning.

Mostly manic, i guess.  A few depressive episodes throughout my life, but i always tended to swerve slightly to the manic side of things.

Problem is, manics sometimes have issues with boundaries.  At least i did.  Especially when it came to my sense of humour.  i had jokes for everything.  Pick an ethnic group?  Got it covered.  Women jokes?  No probs, man.

At last my father generally thought there was a time and place for that sort of humour.

The Mess.  The Locker Room.  The Barber Shop.  They are capitalized because to we men these were sacred places.  No matter how filthy, disgusting, racist, homophobic or demeaning to others a joke may be…these were safe places to tell them.  Not any more, of course.  Men are far too mature and responsible for that sort of behaviour anymore.  Right?

Remember, now, when i was a young boy, they had Playboy magazines in the Barber Shop.  i was not permitted to look at them, but they were right there with the sports magazines.  The guys just read the articles.  Right.

Now these places are gone.  Like a lot sacred places that caused more harm than good, they have needed to change with the times.  As a side note my female friends, i would like to apologize to you on my side of things.  Because i probably had some of the “best” jokes.  I was an ass and a pig.

Even as a chaplain.  i worked with WW2 vets.  Not always the most enlightened guys.  And i ate lunch with nurses.  You want raunchy humour?  Eat lunch with the nurses.  As a bonus, they will give you at least one story that is super gross.  Great at lunch.

i guess this is what i am saying:


“Or maybe, the problem isn’t the jokes themselves, but the attitude that “a joke is just a joke.” Jokes have power—great power. When our intent is to malign, a joke becomes more than an offhand remark; it becomes a weapon.” (…not a great article, but there you go.


That is the worst part.  Handing that kind of humour on to my children, furthering archaic attitudes that, quite frankly, used to be beneath me.  Now the job is to show them that fun is still fun, but not at the expense of someone else.  Remember:


Our family is a lot of fun.  We’re always laughing and clowning around together.  We are a multi-blended family, so a sense of humour is a plus.  Ten people living together in a house.  A sense of humour is a definite plus.  And that joined sense of humour has carried our family through some interesting times.  So,


i would agree with that statement, Hugh.  i think you nailed it.  And so did Bob at the beginning.  Course, i guess no one quotes stupid people.  Never mind.  i know.  Anyway, to end on a positive note:



That’s all i’ve got for now.  Keep your sense of humour.  Maybe i should start posting a cartoon of the day or something.

John the Joker

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