A dear friend and colleague with whom I sometimes co-present to teachers and administrators is my biggest comedy fan. She laughs at all my silly jokes that I embed into my presentation. I ask a question, no one raises their hand to answer and I subtly remind them it wasn't meant to be a rhetorical question. She giggles.
She told me I should slow down my timing of those little ditties to give everyone a chance to laugh before I continue. I listened intently to what she was saying (like those comedians listen to Wanda Sykes give them feedback on "Last Comic Standing"), then responded, "But I'm not doing a comedy routine. I'm teaching about teaching. It's really okay if the participants don't laugh in the same way they do on a sitcom, right?"
But inevitably, after each day of training, someone will mention to me, through the evaluations we get back, that they like the way humor is woven into the presentation. "It makes the day fly by" some will say. So, laughter is a good thing, right?
I've just started taking golf lessons. Dave and I met the golf pro who would be tackling the unique challenge of trying to get me to contort my wrists, stick out my bottom, keep my head still, and twist my mid-section to where my belt buckle (I don't even wear a belt!) faces my "target". As we were walking back to the car, I looked at Dave and said, "She didn't crack a smile." Dave replied, "She seems very serious about her work." I answered, "I think my goal will be to make her smile.....even laugh....during my first lesson." Dave replied in his dry tone, "I think that should maybe not be your top goal."
When, in the first lesson, she talked about how doing these head-down drills with four golf balls (In which I remarkably resemble a waddling duck---an uncoordinated one, at that), she said, "Good, this is to commit that feel to muscle memory", I quipped, "I just need a virtual memory system like a DVR system in which I could play back the 'right' stance". She looked at me and without missing a beat said, "We don't have that. Try again." Sheesh. Like Robin Williams says to the lady at the Employment Office, "There was a time when I found myself funny, but today you have proven me wrong."
Well, yesterday's lesson was going along swimmingly (and by that, I mean I waffled between wanting to jump for joy when a ball sailed onto the driving range and wanting to jump up and down screaming because I felt I couldn't hit the ball to save my life), when my instructor said, "You are just this close to awesome." (Wow, I'm not even sure how to respond to that) "Let's work with your pitching wedge now." I walked over to my golf bag and peered in, hoping to see a club that jumped up and announced its role as pitching wedge. The pro called, "It should have a 'W' or 'P' on it". Hmmmm....I thought. I see numbers on all of them....except, "I don't see that one. Maybe we didn't buy a pitching wedge." She starts to make her way over, saying, "You should have it. A 'P' or a 'W'?" I shook my head. Nope, all I have is one with an 'E' on it." She looked, then pulled out that club and turned it so I, the educator, could see, "That's a 'W'," and then......she laughed. Well, there you go, I thought. I did it. I achieved my goal. I think she was still laughing when we finished the lesson.
Is there a time and place for laughter? Does it lighten the mood? Does it help rather than hurt?
Just for today, perhaps we can be aware of times that laughter is a source of comfort for us and for those around us. It can build relationships if it is not used in hurtful ways.
Happy laughing and communicating!