TO JOKE OR NOT TO JOKE - Tales from Bo / by Bo Gerard

What was the question again?

It was my self-appointed job to make my Mother laugh while I was growing up.  Anytime my Mom was sitting at the kitchen table I would begin the show.  It consisted of jumping, sliding or doing funny walks in the hallway that went past the kitchen.  Once I discovered I could make my mother laugh I was addicted.  The doorway was the TV screen and I would try everything I had ever seen, and other stuff that just came up with, to surprise and delight her.  I never imagined that I would ever use this power to make anyone other than my Mom laugh.  Only famous people on TV do that.  Anyway, I was going to be an engineer when I grew up.

My sister was the de facto editor of my doorway shows and she would shout comments and make suggestions during my performances. (Most of them not appropriate to repeat here.)  I even briefly used this doorway technique in the One-Man Show I performed at universities in the 80‘s called, “A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste”.

After I abandoned my hopes of being an engineer, an architect and a rock musician, I discovered this talent I had over my Mother’s funny bone worked on other humans as well.  I’ve always enjoyed performing – singing, dancing, playing instruments – but I enjoyed them infinitely more if I could get the audience to laugh, too.  And I believe if you are going to have any success as a corporate comedian, you have to have someone close that you trust to tell you when you have gone too far.  I have been truly blessed to have my wonderful wife Gretchen fill that role for the last 37 years.  Sometimes I have a little trouble placing the line between appropriate and not so appropriate, so I try to run new ideas by her first.

Comedy can be challenging.  Like why is it appropriate to make Lincoln jokes – “Other than that, how did you enjoy the show, Mrs. Lincoln?” – but not appropriate to make Kennedy jokes?  My brain seems to organize jokes onto categories and when a topic comes up, that file opens up in my head, and I have to wrestle with whether to tell some of them or not.  This filing system usually serves me well, and I truly enjoy a good joke telling session among friends.  But you don’t tell funeral jokes at am actual funeral, and you don’t tell hospital jokes in a hospital.  So, thanks to my editor-in-chief I have learned to control the flow and content of my humor over the years.

And now, another editor had joined my staff – our 2 1/2 year old Grandson, Max.  Gretchen and I have been blessed to care for him few times a week since a he was 2 months old, and I have been playing a game with him since almost the beginning.  It’s a highly intellectual comedic exercise and it takes place while I am changing his “dipey.  Once I am ready to put a clean “dipey” on him, I take it and lightly whack his belly with it.  He immediately bursts into laughter, which is one of the best sounds the human ear can hear.  Well, the other day he needed to be changed and when I started whacking him with the clean Pampers he laughed at first, but then turned and said in his serious voice “Put dipey on, now”.  Another editor - on the payroll !