Today I had the absolute joy of talking to 40 junior school children about stand-up comedy. As a counsellor I also wanted to get across the idea that it is okay to make fun of ourselves and the embarrassing things we do. Learning to laugh at themselves will come in handy when they hit middle school and start taking themselves a bit too seriously.
I first posed the question – what is funny about my name? One little girls hand shot up – “it sounds like Elsa!” then another “From Frozen!” Excellent. “Maybe you have magic powers – like being able to freeze someone” piped up another.
What else could be funny? “Well you could do an impression of Olaf” one suggested. I tried and they weren’t impressed – nine year olds are difficult to please. Working in twos they discussed things about themselves they found funny and fed back to the class, the best one: “my name is Skye cos my head is up in the clouds”. I think her mam probably tells her that.
I explained to the class that sometimes we believe things that are incorrect, then we laugh at ourselves when we find out they aren’t true. Jason once convinced me that people ate koala burgers because they self-marinated in eucalyptus. It’s only when the words were dropping out of my mouth to tell someone else that I realised he had been lying.
“My husband”, I tell the class, “used to believe that penguins could fly!” Woah! They exclaim and shake their heads. From the back of the class I hear the teacher pipe up: “so you can ask him! Your husband teaches swimming doesn’t he?” Mischievous anxiety flashes through me. “Oh no”, I think, “he is going to kill me”. I emit a small chuckle.
“Yes he teaches swimming”. Confusion ripples throughout the class – who is her husband?? Is it Mr Brendon? Mr Thomas? Enquiring minds want to know! “Mr Jason” I state. A gaggle of girls gasp. I’m unsure at this point whether they are gasping at Mr Jason having a ‘wife’ or because he believed penguins could fly.
A girl at the front puts up her hand. “Mr Jason taught me to swim” she states, “he taught me to float by telling me to lie on my back like a penguin!”
“You see” I state solemnly, “he’s obsessed… so what did you used to believe that isn’t true?”
Fearing that 40 junior school kids are about to torment him with questions about penguins or suddenly start showering him with penguin related gifts (which would be awesome as I love penguins) I feel I have to tell him I outed him to a load of nine year olds.
“Not fair!” he exclaims “there was no context!” So here it is – here is the context. In 2008 the BBC news ran the segment below on April Fools Day. Walking past the TV he thought it was really cool that they had found a colony of flying penguins. 22 years later and I still laugh at him about it. Now a whole host of small children can too.