Honestly, I have thousands of back-up plans. Most of them include humor, which has helped me escape a few hairy situations. Not that I've ever feared my profession, just the monkey business that has sometimes been the objective of my pupils.
Humor, whether it is sarcasm, spontaneous, or purposely included in the lesson plan, has always been a crowd pleaser. Unfortunately, it is also my Achilles heel. You see, monkey see, monkey do. And monkeys doing silly things might make for great youtube videos, but it does not help one pass mandated state tests; because state test proctors have the sense of humor of Kristen Stewart (sad, I just used one of their punchlines--how unfunny).
|Annoying is not a style of|
comedy: look at the career
of Pauly Shore.
They say that comedy is the hardest form of writing to master, and to some extent whoever "they" are, is right. I've gone back and looked at some of my humor columns over the years. Most are about as funny as a barrel of monkeys. Not the proverbial saying, but an actual barrel of the red plastic monkeys. Amusing maybe, but not funny. Much like my student's humor. Much like this article; or the one below from my past.
|I found this immaculate copy of my 1997 article about cloning for the Eugene Register Guard. |
Like the newsprint it was printed on, my humor did not age well.
|"For the love of God, kids--SHUT UP, PLEASE,|
and let me DRIVE!"
So maybe it's karma that now I have to deal with these fledgling comedians. Kids inspired by my own idiocracy, trying to throw a monkey wrench into my lesson plans. Trying to one-up me on the humor set list. "Don't you know I'm a Jedi, kids? You're all just nerf herders." Do you think Stormtroopers ever looked at each other and said, "I don't know, DKN-2420, that one with the Harry Potter robe got's a light saber, maybe we shouldn't engage him in combat?"
|The lonely life of a Nerf Herder.|
Humor, besides in relationships, isn't really valued in society. Maybe at the highest levels of creativity, like movies, television, etc., it has value, but to the average Joe, how often has your boss enjoyed your sarcastic comment? How did that prank go over at the construction site Port-A-Potty? (I still remember the co-worker who got fired at Jerry's Home Improvement for picking up the Buck's toilet with his forklift after our yard supervisor went inside...the fired employee thought it was worth it, though). Reality is, most of us spend most of our time holding in that funny innuendo, that gem of a humorous observation, or that hilarious word play joke, because we've learned that it only gets us in more trouble.
|"Is Edward here today? No? what-|
ever, just do questions 8- 243."
And to me, that seems like a shame.
So my questions are, am I doing my students a disservice by teaching them comedic timing in speech and writing? Is it worthwhile to know how to observe the world from a slightly less serious side? Is humor, like a decent singing voice, a skill that has almost no real-life application other than making life briefly happier? Should I even be concerned with their happiness, and focus solely on state standards and universal knowledge truths? Because if that's true, than I'm going to have to work on my Kristen Stewart "serious" sneer; and I'll be a monkey's uncle before I allow the muffled Twilight jokes snickers of students while I lecture away about the overuse of idioms in bad writing. Sometimes, a teachable moment, is crushing their idea of funny, by SHOWING them a better, more laughable future.