Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon steps out onto the NBC Studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City to a rousing applause. He waves to the crowd and tells a few opening jokes about current events, including a joke or two at President Donald Trump’s expense, before diving into one about Elton John’s announcement that he’s retiring after his next world tour.
“There’s going to be a very dramatic moment at the end, where he admits that the lyrics really are ‘hold me closer, Tony Danza.’” From my standpoint, a so-so joke, but the audience seemed to appreciate it.
If Fallon isn’t to your liking, there’s the Late show with Stephen Colbert on CBS and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. I’m not even including Seth Meyers’ late show on NBC, James Corden on CBS, and even Conan O’Brien on TBS.
They all have their strong points, some are more political, others better at telling slice of life jokes. They’re fighting for people’s attention and in turn the same advertising dollars. I heard comedian and vaudeville actor Bob Hope once explain how a good joke has a way of lifting a heavy heart and lighting up a room.
Going beyond the late-night comedy circuit, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the humor we come across in our lives. I’m convinced that God has a sense of humor. And it’s sharp as tack.
Case in point
I get out of the office one afternoon for lunch with a good friend at a small local dinner. We chat and trade stories about our families until we have to get back to work. The cashier rings up my BLT sandwich and I hand her my card.
I’m deep in conversation with my friend. I’m telling her a story and I’m getting to the good part, and I notice that the cashier is looking at me. Do we know each other? Is she flirting with me? I let out a smirky grin, I do look particularly handsome today. I’m having a good hair day and the blue shirt that I’m wearing brings out the blue in my eyes.
I give the cashier a big dimpled smile. She doesn’t return it. Instead, she looks at her cash register and then back at me and says, “Um, I’d love to take it, but your library card won’t buy much here.”
My friend, of course, couldn’t stop laughing at me. I handed the cashier my credit card and wished secretly to shrink away unnoticed. God had to be up in heaven laughing his butt off. I imagine him saying: “I got you there Brian, that was a good one.”
I don’t think he’s laughing at us, per se, but with us. In my vision, I think God gives us humor to help us deal with the ups and downs, the highs and the lows, and the challenges and the wins. When I’m able to laugh at myself, I’m better able to get up each day and deal with whatever life brings.
Sometimes you just have to laugh
Another day a few years ago, my wife and I had taken off work to go to an important doctor’s visit in Philadelphia. My wife had just recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system where the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves, and we had a myriad of questions.
The sun hadn’t even started to poke its face above the horizon when we left our home. We knew that the dusting of snow the night before would slow traffic, but we left so early that we figured we had plenty of time.
We raced up the highway. Everything was going our way. I started to even think that we might have time for a quick stop for a coffee and an egg sandwich. And then, our luck turned. We hit a major back-up. I joked with my wife that my cocky attitude put a jinx on us and we both laughed. We still felt good. We had plenty of time. I took a short cut and soon enough we were moving again.
I looked over and even saw a smile on wife’s face. That’s right about the time, when we hit another back-up. I couldn’t get around this one. We had to wait it out, traveling 10 mph up the highway. Now here’s where I need to tell you about Philadelphia traffic. I’ll sum it up in two words: it stinks. There are back-ups on normal days, throw in snow, ice, rain, and even an abnormally sunny day and you’ve got problems. There’s not enough highways, especially from the western suburbs, into the city. We simply had to wait. After a while, we started moving again. Nothing big, but we were certainly pushing forward.
I smiled once again and my wife nervously smiled back. We were moving again. And of course, we rounded a bend and hit another back-up. We were now officially late. I curse out loud. My wife fumed quietly in her seat.
Right on cue, we passed the minor fender-bender that had been holding up traffic. I swear to God standing along the side of the busy highway in the early morning light stood three clowns. Yes, clowns in full regala, red nose, clown make-up, bright colored clothes, and floppy shoes. They stood next to their car pointing their fingers at each other and shaking their heads, while smoke and steam billowed out from the front hood.
I looked at my wife and she looked at me and we both broke out laughing. We spent the next twenty minutes laughing at our luck. If we were late, we were late, the hell with it. At least we had a good story to tell our friends and family and the stress and the fear that raced through our thoughts fell to the wayside.
We walked into the office appointment and the receptionist and nurses didn’t know what to make of us. We didn’t get the answers we were looking that day, it would take another six months and countless appointments for them to come, but we felt better. The laughing proved to us that we could make it. We could at least laugh at ourselves and things around us.
So yea God has a sense of humor. Of course, he could just be trying to keep St. Peter on the ball. What do you think?