I’m a substitute teacher. Until the real teacher dies. But I WILL NOT teach fishing. Here’s why.
A very wise professor of mine at Penn State once commented on the aphorism: “Give a person a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” My professor asked, “Why are we fishing?”
Why aren’t we doing something else? Who says fish are best? Why aren’t we hunting or trapping, or growing other foods?
This is the danger we face today, politically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We are so accustomed to seeing things the way we usually see them. We almost can’t see any other way; we think on automatic pilot. But–whose interests are being served when we don’t think a different way? When we can’t make fun of certain candidates? When we only target a certain person or philosophy? When we believe only what we are told? When we stop thinking for ourselves?
What does all this have to do with comedy? Comedy is precisely the questioning of the status quo (no matter which side your particular quo is on). It is being the iconoclast when everyone else is afraid to speak against. It is not ‘thinking outside the box’ but asking, “Why are we using a box as an image?”
How often do we stop to realize that both our candidates supported the bail-out in exactly the same version as it was? Do we look to see how often the two agree on issues? Do we wonder whether working “across the aisle” is a good thing for people who are not in power? Whose interests are being served when we fight each other? Especially when we see how often our particular opposing candidates aren’t fighting each other.
Another tenet of comedy is being comfortable with ambiguity. Today we must be comfortable with it. It is the space that allows for possibilities to form. It is the space where there are no rules. It is where creativity is born. If we rush to fill this space with answers, solutions, issues, people, more problems, etc., we lose out on creative, rational problem-solving. Another tenet of comedy is being fearless. Going where the usual route doesn’t take us. Questioning things with a detachment that separates us from our emotional response. Who says thinking with our hearts is always a good thing? If we are so emotionally attached to a person, an issue, a way of being, we are avoiding looking in from a different perspective.
What if we all started to realize how funny this election really is? What if we all would, “Get Your SHINE Together!” and put away our “fishing polls!”
Check out these guys, coming soon to the Latonia!
Comedy Around the World stops in New Jersey this week. In honor of Bruce Springsteen’s birthday this month, I decided I’d reflect on my attempt to meet him. And I’ll reflect on how this journey mirrors how we can use our sense of humor.
The journey began with a 3-hour bike ride from Princeton to Asbury Park. It was during the opening of the Rock & Roll Museum and I was fortunate enough to get a tour. And a hotel. A hotel that allowed me to keep my bike in my room. I was thrilled. Point #1: be easily impressed with the small steps. When you first use your sense of humor, people may not laugh. They may not even notice! But you will, and you will be proud of yourself for taking this one small step for humor-kind.
Because I was under 21, going into the Stone Pony was out of the question on this trip. Point #2: roll with the punches. If one door closes, stay calm, it will re-open (and this one did, 3 years later). Like Point #1, when you don’t get the response you thought you’d get, move on to something else. Don’t try to explain your joke, just try it out on another person.
The trip back to Princeton was long and excruciating. After getting lost somewhere around Monmouth shooting range, my total trip stretched to 5 hours instead of 3. Point #3: keep at it. There isn’t a finish line to using your sense of humor. Instead it’s just a beginning of a whole new way of relating and communicating.
The story has a happy ending that incorporates all three points. Three years after that odyssey, I did get to meet Bruce at the Green Parrot in Neptune (NJ, not the planet). Because I kept at it, I didn’t get bogged down by seriousness or a fixed schedule, and because I kept having fun.
“Get Your SHINE Together!” even in New Jersey!
What do you get when you mix prizes, food, a wine tasting contest, and an infant? Why it’s Saturday Night in Slippery Rock, PA! Here I am after the show with artist ‘cia (that’s her painting in the background); the-littlest-heckler Phoenix with her mom ‘cia and dad Falcon; Grove City chiropractor Josh Click; and Ralph Doehre, the German.
Thank you to Bill Carr of Luigi’s Restaurant in downtown Slippery Rock for hosting the event, and to Devon Knight who helped make it a magical night–literally!
After Michael Phelps won his gold medals, someone mentioned the suits the swimmers were wearing. They allowed the athletes to have a lot less drag while they were moving through the water.
I thought: that’s what having a sense of humor does for us. It lets us move through life with less drag. We’re not pulled under by stress. We can float above our problems because we have a bigger perspective.
Just think how much quicker we’d reach our goals, how fast our message would come across, how much less stress we’d have when we use our sense of humor. When you lighten up, you can swim faster (I am guessing; I’m not a swimmer), and you can, “Get Your SHINE Together!”
As I write this blog entry I am eating another adventure food that I bought at the smashed can store. This time, it’s Maccabeans. “Legendary Jelly Beans” the package says. Please write if you got that, because it took me several days to stop laughing. (And it has absolutely nothing to do with Macarena).
I wish we were all so easily amused…and so often. And for so little (.79 for 8.5 oz. package)!
Talk about amusing, someone sent me an article about women comics in Pittsburgh. You can read it here: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/search/s_589713.html
And last but not least, my friend Jay wanted to be legendary too, so I have posted his picture here.
I wanted to invite you to a great wine festival, dinner & entertainment event! Please, forward on to any fun folks that ya know.
Meet new people or connect with old friends & enjoy tasting wine. Whether you are new to wine making or are seasoned with experience, we hope that you will enjoy a night of celebrating the grape.
September 27, 2008, From 5pm - ?
Luigi’s Restaurant, Downtown Slippery Rock, PA
$20 per person Door Prizes, Chinese Auction,
Drinks, Appetizers, Buffet dinner provided, BYOB is permitted
Live Entertainment: Magician Mr. Knight & Comedian Trina Hess
Contest: Like to enter the amateur wine making contest?
- Please bring two bottles per entry, to be sampled by judges & attendants of the festival for the Peoples Choice Award. No additional charge for wine entries. Enter as many as you wish.
Feel free to bring other homemade beverages to enjoy with the menu at our evenings events.
Luigi’s Restaurant, www.WindyHillWine.com, www.LuvaBella.com, www.PorterHouseBrewShop.com, www.NorthCountryBrewing.com, www.HeritageWine.Biz, www.WinfieldWinery.com, Stingrays Tanning Salon, www.BodyBeautifulLaserMedi-Spa.com & Pro-Teeth Whitening,
Green Valley Nursery & www.OakSpringWinery.com,
Call Now for Your Tickets!
Mark Fleis: 724-679-2588 or MarkFleis@hotmail.com
The founder of Burrell Communications, Tom Burrell, says that we’ve got to be entertaining. To get the attention of, and to engage the consumer. No amount of content is going to matter, if people aren’t paying attention to your message.
And how do you get people to pay attention to you? How do you become entertaining? By using your sense of humor!
But you also have to be authentic. You have to operate within your style of humor.
And, you’ve got to be global. That doesn’t mean you need to speak another language. That means you have to realize that your audience is savvy. They know about everything. They have access to all kinds of information. So you have to give them something new. Something unique. Something that will surprise them into paying attention to your message.
To get their attention, “Get Your SHINE Together!”
Humor. It’s one of the ten ways of giving that Post and Neimark write about in their 2007 book, “Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to live a longer, healthier, happier life by the simple act of giving.”
“Humor is the fastest, fleetest form of giving–it can change pain to joy in a mere millisecond. A good joke can sometimes lift a person out of pain when no other way of love is effective.” And it can also prevent road rage.
Yesterday on my way to a show, I got behind a pick-up truck. You know, one that drives really slowly, especially when you’re in a hurry. (Usually it’s not a pick-up truck, but a semi. The logo of the company is always “Swift.” Is that supposed to make us laugh?)
I thought, “Oh, great, these people are just talking to each other, oblivious to my time-line!” Then the person in the passenger seat turned to the driver. She or he had a really long, pointy nose. Then I realized: It was a dog! I laughed out loud.
And then I kept laughing as the driver turned and kept talking to the dog! And I’m not even a dog person! A few miles later (I didn’t pass them, I wanted to see this, it was entertaining), the dog turned to the driver, and I could see his mouth open. The dog was talking too!
I laughed to myself, and out loud, the whole way to my destination. I wasn’t as concerned about being in a hurry. I wasn’t even that mad at myself for forgetting my shirt I had planned to wear under my suit jacket. It didn’t seem to matter. There were things bigger than my time-line. Things that were very, very funny.
That driver and his dog exemplified the act of giving. Whether they knew it or not, they created a spark of lightness in my day. This isn’t a talent for only a few, or only dogs. I’m sure cats are capable of it, and maybe even humans.
“Get Your SHINE Together,” but get out of my way if I’m behind you driving in a hurry. Unless, of course, you bring your dog.
Comedy Around the World: Next Stop, Israel. Before my trip, I made a mental list of places I wanted to visit while in this historic land. One of the main places I wanted to see was Armageddon. No, not the one from the movie, the actual historic site of the ancient town, Megiddo. Where the final battle of good and evil will occur. Maybe Bruce Willis might star in it, I’m not sure. Or Tom Atkins.
I imagined this place to be a disaster zone. After all, the ancient battles had been fought there, all the major armies of their times fought there, it had to be exciting! And interesting! And–
My host family’s mother had never heard of the place. And she was Israeli. Her husband explained it to her. He knew; but only because he worked for the tourism industry.
When the Eged bus finally let me off at the historic site, I had to walk about 2 miles to get the the site. Buses didn’t go directly there. It was a vast plains area. So vast that the silence deafened me to the cars passing until they were about 10 feet away from me. (But I did hear the expletives from the drivers, telling me in Hebrew, probably, “Get out of the middle of the road!”, and, “No, Bruce Willis isn’t here. Go home.”)
The historic site wasn’t as glamorous as I had imagined it. It wasn’t even THERE! Most of the city’s ruins were underground, they hadn’t been excavated yet. There was no blood, only dirt and sand and things to read in the little building by the ruins.
When we take a picture in front of the Grand Canyon, does that mean that we dug it out? If I stand in front of an F-16, does that mean I can fly it? But how many things do we take as fact, unchangable, because that is our opinion. Our vision. Our expectation. And then, when we see the real thing, we are shocked. Maybe even disappointed.
What if we could practice seeing a different perspective before we experienced the actual thing? What if we believed that our perspective wasn’t the correct one, or the only correct one.
How must stress would that take away from our shoulders? From our relationships? From our peace of mind?
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