Stephanie Scala: Laughter Lines

I’ve always yearned to be funny, smart-clever funny, like ‘Chandler’ from Friends or ‘Wolowitz?’ from Big Bang Theory.  Like a comedy Pied Piper, gathering followers and friends along the way.  I gravitate towards funny people, hoping that their mirthful spotlight will automatically be transferred by contact or association.

I told my husband that if for whatever reason I am lying prostrate, un-rousable in a coma, he should play me my favourite comedies on a loop (he knows which ones) and if that didn’t rouse me from my slumber, then it would be game over.

I was astounded when a colleague once said that she didn’t believe it when someone says that they had ‘wet themselves laughing’ at something.  She had genuinely never found anything that funny.  What!  Where had she been?  Well, notice I say ‘colleague’ and not ‘friend’.  I could never be friends with someone who didn’t laugh at life’s tribulations.  Or beg for mercy, doubled up with excruciating stomach cramps after watching a favourite comedy skit or sharing the latest in-joke with your partner.

Laughter got me through my difficult teenage years at secondary school – well studying certainly never did!  On our journey home from school, me and my ‘bestie’ would re-enact the comedy sketches we had seen on TV the night before.  We found humour in everything.  I can still hear our stern-faced maths teacher telling us for the umpteenth time “Stephanie and Julia stop giggling”.  I’m surprised I learned anything at all at school, it was probably fortunate that we only shared a few classes together otherwise I would be practically unemployable.

As a natural introvert, I asked my husband, who has this attractive much coveted character trait of humour, for his advice.  I told him, “I think funny things but I’m too afraid to say them in case they are taken in the wrong way”.  His advice was if you think it’s funny then it probably is, so just say what comes into your head. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well, I now know the answer to that question!

We were enjoying a Turkish gulet cruise with a group of eight people we’d never previously met.  One evening, one of the more mature women in the group returned from a day trip with a swollen hand as a result of a fall she’d had on her excursion.  Whilst assessing her over-inflated hand, she remarked to the assembled guests that because the skin had tightened so much all the wrinkles had now disappeared.  Into my head immediately popped a funny quip and fresh with my husband’s advice and without a second thought I said, “it’s a shame you didn’t fall on your face then!”. She spat back with “Are you trying to be funny?”. Well, yes that’s exactly what I was trying to be. I immediately realised my error – in my first ever foray into the humour zone, I had already gone way too far, head-first into a full parkour move and without any precursory warm-up.

I felt the full glare of my fellow holiday-makers on my now crimson face, staring incredulously, eyes widened in horror.  To give him his credit, my husband was the only one who did find it funny, although I still don’t know if it was my uncomfortable predicament or the joke itself that amused him most.

Stuck on the boat with five more inglorious days of the holiday still to run, I reverted to my ‘comfortable shoes’ persona of thinking funny things but keeping them firmly in my head.  It turns out that to be funny you have to be fearless as well. I’m just not ready. I wonder if there’s a comedy boot camp I can attend.