As a fourth grader, during a winter much like this one, I sat in my elementary school gym. The PE teacher – missing two finger tips from his days as a shop teacher – explained the rules of our next game. The kind of complex game a brutal, hibernation worthy winter necessitated. Stay on the lines. No passing. Save your friends from jail. On and on.

A classmate asked a complicated question about the complicated game. I just wanted to play. I said, “That’s like asking what do I do if a burglar comes and the house is on fire and I can’t find my shoes and there is a tornado outside.” Everyone laughed. That’s how I got my first laugh.

I was an awkward, unpopular kid. Knock-kneed and a little chunky. A little nerdy:

awkward2

That laugh filled my chubby little chest with joy. I felt like I fit in. Something I said had changed the feeling of the room. The tension lifted and even the butt of my joke smiled.

Making people laugh feels like you have a superpower. For a moment, time stops. You can see the space between words. The timing of the room. During this pause, your reaction has the power to spread joy like a little bolt of lightning. Something unexpected. Something that fits within that unseen space. The joy bounces from the listener back to you. God it feels good.

Last night, at my grown up gym, I made some people laugh again. A quip about the weather. Hating my life not the workout. Funny on the basis of shared suffering? These people who were grimacing against their effort smiled and laughed. The mood lifted.

Maybe I’m over analyzing it but I sure do love making people laugh.

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