The past Saturday
“How was your weekend?”
The instructors in our Instructor Training Course made it a point to ask how our prior day/weekend was at the start of every day of instruction.
‘Chatting up’ the students is one of the tricks you learn in effective teaching and it’s something I’d participated in as a student for years and not really noticed. Funny how subtlety works structure into conversation.
The question usually garnered an interesting story from one of my classmates about the weekend—seeing a new movie, attending a martial arts competition, selling a house, etc. I usually gave a stock response like “did homework,” which was a little cheeky on my part. While it was true that homework was a staple of my spare time, there usually were other aspects to the bachelor life roommate Adrian and I participated in. I guess I said it to pass the buck.
But this past weekend homework was a large part of my days. I had won a cold off of a nearby classmate, who, in a boast to the class, says he’s never been sick a day in his life. His constant coughing and sniffling makes me wonder. Still, perhaps he just denies ever being sick and is happy to spread discomfort to all around him. Eh.
Anyway, “homework” was my answer again, but then our instructors asked a second question.
“Did anybody get caught out in that storm?”
There had been a particularly fierce storm that rolled through on Saturday—around the time roommate Adrian and his girlfriend went out to see a movie, leaving me alone with the cat. I saw the clouds moving in and enjoyed the light show.
“Yeah I was without power for 24 hours,” said my always-healthy classmate, which got a few grimaces and sympathetic groans from the class remainder. Someone else talked about traffic and hail. Then there was a pause.
“I went out on my porch and watched it,” I pipped in. I talked about living on the 15th floor of this high apartment complex, amid the clouds and winds, and how I stood on my balcony, rain pelting my face, directing the lightning and wind like Mickey Mouse in “Fantasia.”
I threw in some hand gestures and furrowed brow movements, showing my intense concentration. That got some laughs and some more “you’re so crazy,” comments from my class.
It’s good to rack up some subtle funny points in groups. They can come at any time and require a more sophisticated humor. If you tell a joke or story that gets laughs, that’s too specific. There’s nothing more undermining to the goal of establishing a legacy of humor than to have someone say, “Hey! Tell that one story. It’s so funny.” You see, that locks you into that story. You tell it, it might work, it might not, regardless, you’re done. Say no more.
However, if you can make people laugh from simple stories like standing in the midst of a thunderstorm, evoking some recollection of a cartoon mouse; and you can do that multiple times, across the span of a conversation, then the laughs blend in to a general, hazy regard toward you as a procurer of the jovial. Then, instead of them asking you to tell that one funny story, they just want you around to be funny, which gives credence to anything you do as being funny in and of itself. After a time, your actions become self-perpetuating in maintaining your image of laughter.
Don’t know if you needed a lecture in that, but there it is. Begone!