Did I tell you about the time…?

We all need some outlets from the news of the day, the Coronavirus. Words like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” are in many discussions. So, with a Thank-God-its-Friday sense of purpose, here are few things I want to share.

Did I tell you about the time…

– I called the Senator’s office and shared my concern with the staff member and learned I was speaking with the wrong Senator’s office? Oops.

– I said to a small gathering in front of our Health and Wellness coordinator, that we need to do these Mobile Mammogram screenings for our employees to honor “Breast Awareness Month” in October. She corrected me saying that would be “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Oops.

– I watched a colleague walk into the wrong gender bathroom by mistake at a client’s manufacturing plant only to see a line of three women looking puzzled as he walked out? He said he thought it was pretty progressive move to have a tampon machine in a unisex bathroom (this was 1985). Oops.

– I listened to a colleague recounting small talk with a female prospective client who had picture of Don Knotts in his Barney Fife deputy uniform in her office; after multiple probing questions he learned that she just had a crush on Barney Fife? Oh my. Don’t tell Thelma Lou.

– I watched a colleague try to take a charge from an opponent during a league game for our company basketball team; he did not want to get hurt, so he started falling before he was hit and slowly fell to his backside chuckling all the way down? Ouch.

– I almost fell on my backside at our wedding when we were lighting the unity candle and stepped wrong off a step, catching myself without too much notice? Almost oops.

– I did fall on my backside at a community play, when we returned to our seats after intermission, and my folding chair back leg was off the two-feet high choral riser; as I sipped my wine, my first thought was my date was going forward, but it was me falling slowly backwards to a loud crash? Ouch, indeed. My ego was more bruised than my tail bone.

– I was working with my son last week to pull up some stumps from trees that we had cut up after they fell; as we pulled the stump as I squatted using my weight, the stump freed itself and landed me on my backside. Oops.

We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and these events. My bride is still my wife. The date went out with me again. The Health and Wellness coordinator and I still laugh about the story. I reminded the faux charge basketball player of the story when we met up again after twenty years to laughter. The Senator staff member and I had a good chuckle and I am sure she shared the story. And, my son, my wife and I laughed about my stump removal techniques.

Have a great weekend. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Especially when you fall on your backside.

A few funnies

Comedian Tom Arnold was asked a question on “The View” that was personal and evolved out of the table conversation. “How long does it take for sex at your house?” He responded to the surprise of others, “Thirty minutes.” When questioned, he said “Yea, 5 minutes for foreplay, 5 minutes for sex and twenty minutes to get the pillows off the bed.”

On the CBS TV show “Mom,” the mother and daughter were sharing a bedroom. The daughter got up, went to urinate and came back to bed. The mother said “You didn’t wash your hands.” The daughter replied testily “I didn’t touch anything!”

One of the funniest, recurring lines was provided by the oldest of three brothers when they arrived at the inn on The Bob Newhart Show. Larry would say “This is my brother Daryl and this is my other brother Daryl.” The two Daryl’s never spoke on the show. Newhart often let his ensemble cast get the limelight on his two long-running shows.

A real life funny happened to one of my close friends and his wife. He got a call from his mother-in-law who was very worried about his wife. Mom had been talking to daughter and the phone went silent. My friend rushed home to see if there was a problem. He walked in and found his wife on the couch taking a nap. Waking her, she saw the phone on her chest and exclaimed, “Oh my God, I fell asleep on Mom!”

The funniest movie line was saved by Rob Reiner for his mother in “When Harry met Sally.” After Sally vividly and audibly demonstrates to Harry in a cafe how a woman can fake an orgasm, Reiner’s mother who observed all of this responded to a waiter “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Please feel free to add any funny stories or jokes from real life or TV, movie or theater performances.

A few vignettes to make work fun

I have shared a few of these work vignettes before, but I think we could all use a laugh these days.

– A friend and colleague left for a meeting 90 minutes up the road. After about an hour, the client showed up in our office for said meeting. Can you say “uh-oh?”

– A couple of colleagues were meeting with a woman who had pictures of Don Knotts all over her office. After trying to make small talk about the pictures, she finally said she just loved Barney Fife. Better not tell Thelma Lou.

– Two of us were meeting with a prospective client at their office at the plant. Since we drove awhile, we asked for the restroom, which was just inside the plant. My friend went first and as the door shut, the sign said “Women.” Just as I noticed, a line started forming. My male friend walked out and said he thought it was pretty progressive to have a tampon machine in a unisex restroom.

– An old boss told the story of a very sad and funny insurance claim he handled early in his career. Apparently, this company had someone clean the toilets with gasoline. When one of the employees snuck a smoke break in the restroom, he unfortunately tossed his lit cigarette into a toilet and the explosion propelled him off the throne. Not, the way to go, so to speak.

– Speaking of cigarettes, my boss and his boss, who were smokers, were interviewing a medical doctor, who they did not know smoked. So, our two guys chose not to smoke, as did the doctor, and this lasted for a couple of hours. When they got back together for a follow-up interview, the doctor said, “I must tell you, I need to have a smoke especially if we meet for two hours again.” Relieved, our two guys pulled out their cigarettes as well and conducted the smoky interview.

– An old boss was meeting early one morning with prospective client. Since the man’s AA was not in yet, he waved my boss back and proceeded with small talk about an easement infringement on a piece of property. When the guy asked my boss what he should do, my boss said “I think you should hire a lawyer.” The guy looked at him and said “Who are you?” Apparently, he thought a lawyer was his first meeting. My boss did not make the sale that day.

– This same old boss was near San Francisco with a colleague and they were driving this windy, mountainous road trying to locate a manufacturing plant pre-GPS. When they came upon a bicyclist pedaling away, they slowed and asked him for directions. While telling them, the bicyclist ran off a ledge. They stopped the car and looked over the ledge scared to find out the bad news. The man was on another ledge ten feet below, lying on top of his bicycle, still telling them directions. They said “Forget that, are you alright?’ He was, but he wanted to be informative.

– I once had a client, where the benefits attorney in their Legal Department would often argue with the Benefits Director in HR. For some reason, I was on good terms with both, so each would call me separately for ammunition on the same argument. When I realized what was happening, I was able to coax them toward resolution, helping them to see the other person’s argument, which I had help frame. Talk about arguing with yourself.

– I had colleague who was late for a meeting with a client’s Board of Directors about two hours away for an unusual reason. A cattle carrying truck had overturned on I-95 and, unfortunately, several steers did not survive the wreck and were littered all over the road. When he returned to his office and flipped on his desktop computer, his screen saver opened up to a Chick-Fil-A screen complete with cows saying “eat mor Chikin.”

– Speaking of Board meetings, I was taking this colleague’s boss to one for a prospective client and I had a flat tire. So, rolling up my sleeves, I changed the tire while he called our main contact. We made it on time, but I had to run to the rest room to get cleaned up. We got hired, as I guess they were impressed we could change a tire, as well.

– We were attending a major finalist meeting for a client for a new project. Two of our key folks had personal family reasons they could not attend, but could join by phone, pre-Skype or videoconferencing. So, we made life-size torso shots of each and sat them in chairs by the phone, so the client could see who they were talking with. We got hired and my contact said the committee was impressed with our improvisation and fun.

– Let me close with a story about one of my favorite consultants, who stood less than 5 feet tall, but whose subject matter and industry knowledge was far larger. Proposing to do business with one of our larger clients, we went last for the finalist presentation. My short friend was asked what she thought about what they were doing and, as per usual, she was very frank, with necessary diplomacy thrown in. My main contact told me later after we were hired, when the committee discussed whom to hire, one guy pointed at my friend’s vacated chair and said “That little fireball who sat there will tell us what we need to hear.”

I would love to hear some of your funny work stories. Please feel free to share.

 

 

 

A few old comedic actors that make me smile

Are there certain names that when you hear them make you smile? To me, there are some old comedic actors who fit this bill. They were such a key part of the fabric of my life growing up, that fond memories come rushing back when I hear their names. Although these people were not stand-up comedians,  they are burned in our memories from the funny characters they played in the movies and on television.

In no particular order, here are a few of them:

Don Knotts – he will forever be burned into our memory as Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show,” but his talent took him to other roles on television in “Three’s Company” and to the big screen in movies such as “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” When I think of Don Knotts, I think of Barney being allowed to carry a pistol as deputy, only because Andy made him carry one bullet in his buttoned shirt pocket. To see Barney reach for that bullet when he felt in harm’s way is priceless.

Tim Conway – he had already made a name for himself as Ensign Parker on “McHale’s Navy” as well as other roles, but when he joined “The Carol Burnett Show,” there was no funnier person on the planet. He would leave both the audience and fellow cast members in tears with his ad libs and scripted humor. The dentist who keeps injecting Novocaine in parts of his body by mistake is vintage Conway.

Lucille Ball – there is probably no finer comedic actor than our Lucy, who we got to enjoy for so many years. She was so talented and funny, it surprises me still to see how beautiful she was. Her finest moments are the escapades with Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance), especially when entering the work force. The candy assembly line to selling Vita-mita-vegimen, which had a little alcohol are skits that come to mind.

Carol Burnett – Lucy passed the baton to the new funniest person in Carol. Carol’s work early in her career was priceless, but when she got her own television show, with such great fellow actors, it was comedic gold. There are very few skits as funny as her playing Scarlett O’Hara to Harvey Korman’s Rhett Butler in a spoof of “Gone with the Wind,” as she walked down the stairs in a dress made of curtains complete with the curtain rod still attached.

Dick Van Dyke – with his TV show which included a tremendous cast to his roles in  ‘Mary Poppins,” Van Dyke was one talented man. His physical comedy was as funny as his mental comedy given his dancing skills, which flourished in Mary Poppins. I could not wait for his show to start and see him trip (or side step) the ottoman in his house, depending on the year of filming.

Mary Tyler Moore – I must confess I had a huge crush on Laura Petrie, the role she played on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” But, she was far more than a pretty face. She was a talented comedienne and dancer. She would go on to star in her own TV series under her name, which ran forever given the talent of her and her wonderful crew. She could do the best half-crying, half-frustrated routine around.

Andy Griffith – while he is remembered for the show which bore his name as well as a dramatic role in “Matlock,” where he did his funniest work was his comedic acting captured on stage. We have a CD from an old album that is as funny as it gets, where he summarizes the plots of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Carmen for us. Plus, his classic “What it was was football,” will regale you as he describes what he is seeing for the first time.

What is interesting about these talented people is each is remembered for being a part of a funny, talented cast. That made them even more funny and memorable. It is not a surprise that Dick and Mary were on the same show or Carol and Tim or Don and Andy. But, that does a disservice to the many other funny people on the shows. I also left off some other very funny heroes of mine such as Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, Redd Foxx, Flip Wilson, Red Skelton, Moms Mabley and others. Cosby has broken my heart with the news of his many date rapes, but he was such a key part of my memories.

Who are some of your favorites? What do you remember most about them or the above?

Bill Cosby, Noah and me

While commenting on a post which reviewed the movie “Noah” I felt compelled to end my comment with recognition that I liked Bill Cosby’s “Noah” better. The blog author concurred. Cosby was already a notable stand up comic, when he wrote and presented his famous “Noah” skit. The back and forth between Cosby’s, at first, unbelieving Noah and God is priceless. With each instruction from God, Cosby’s Noah would say “right” in a skeptical way. If you have not seen or heard Cosby’s “Noah,” please do yourself a favor and link to the attached video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bputeFGXEjA.

Cosby would go on to fame with his first TV show, “I Spy” which was actually a drama. But, after several tries, he finally hit it big on TV as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” which was a TV ongoing version of his most famous comedy stand-up routine called “Bill Cosby, Himself.” The routine and the show speak to the humor around his large family. The show remains one of the most treasured comedy shows in TV history.

However, long before his huge TV stardom, I was given a Bill Cosby comedy album while in the sixth grade. I remember this as I would play it endlessly memorizing each skit. In fact, my teacher let me pretend to be Bill Cosby and get in front of the class to deliver the comedy routines. She even talked another sixth grade teacher into letting me do an encore. I probably was not as funny as I thought I was, no matter how good the material. But, I did have in my favor, that by listening to me, the class was not doing school work.

These routines would include my version of “Noah” as well as some other routines such as “Toss of a Coin” where various battles would follow a toss of a coin. Because they won the toss, the American rebels could shoot from behind the rocks and trees, while the British had to wear red and march in a straight line and so on. “Karate” where Cosby would learn Karate then go into dark alleys with money hanging from his pocket only to be accosted by a midget. “Little Tiny Hairs” was about men’s need to rip their face to shreds to rid themselves of “little tiny hairs growing out of my face.”

We had the good fortune to take our whole family to see Cosby perform. It was quite the treat, especially for me. He re-did his “Dentist” routine where he said you could actually walk out of the chair using only your buttocks. Since Cosby was always above-board, parents never hesitated to take their kids. In fact, during his “Bill Cosby, Himself” DVD, Cosby goes out of his way to define his wife’s pain in child delivery when she stood up in the stirrups and told everyone in the room “my parents were never married.” I have never seen my mother laugh so hard when we first watched that together.

I will always have a strong affinity for Bill Cosby. To me, he is a paragon of comedy. There are similarly funny people, but we are hard pressed to find some who has done it for so long at such a high-caliber. Plus, he is far more than that. He is civic-minded and is a spokesperson for many in need. He is a gift to us all. Thanks for all you have done for many, especially me.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

With due credit to Zero Mostel, I borrowed the title from one of his funniest movies to share some of my, my family and my friends’ more comical moments which you might find amusing. In some, I conducted the act, where others I witnessed. I hope you will enjoy and laugh with me, as I laughed the hardest on a few that I did.

1. Always have a spare quarter – In high school, I was fortunate enough to play on a good baseball team in a pretty competitive conference of large schools around the city. Where I grew up, there was a large river that had numerous toll bridges. Returning from an afternoon baseball game still in uniform, I was driving with a couple of teammates as we approached the toll booth. None of us had a quarter for the toll. As we debated our action strategy, we noticed the car in front of us included some of our teammates. Just before I got out of the car to ask them for the toll money, their door opened and one came back to ask us if we had any quarters, of which they had none as well. We had to ask a toll keeper for leniency as we begged our way through. Yet, we had to say, “you’re not going to believe this, but we don’t have any money either.”

2. Dueling Air Guitars – Before Rock Band, doing air guitar in public was usually not seen. It was something you did in front of the mirror. Keeping with the baseball theme, I was at bat in practice when two of my good friends who teased me for being a head-banger (hard rock fan) decided to have some fun. With one in right field and one in center field, they did one leg up, hopping air guitars toward each other passing in right-center field. Another friend who was pitching had to turn around to see why I was hysterical with laughter. My hitting was not strong during this at bat as a result.

3. Community Plays are dangerous – On a double date with a girl I really liked, we decided to go to a community play. Since it was in a church hall, they had these choral risers in place to create an amphitheater affect.We sat with fold out chairs in the back row about three feet off the ground. After a wine and cheese intermission, we re-seated with wine containers still in hand. As I tilted back and drank mine, I noticed my date was going forward. Actually, it was me going backwards as one of my chair legs was off the riser and I was falling. What became one of the loudest booms, everyone (including the actors) turned to see the big tall guy on the floor splattered on a folded up chair. Fortunately, the play had not restarted and even more so, I was not hurt. But, it sure was funny. I did get a another date, but we went to a safer venue.

4. Joseph, David what’s in a name? – When my boys were little they roomed together. We would always read a story to them and one of the books we read from was filled with biblical tales and songs. On one night, I left the book downstairs and decided to sing one of the songs from memory. You may recall the song, “Only a Boy Named David” telling the tale of his slaying of Goliath. Well in this case, I mixed biblical names and began “Only a Boy Named Joseph…..” After a couple of verses, my youngest boy who was about four, said “but… Dad, I ..thought…his… name…was…David?” to which we all burst out laughing.

5. Jumping on a bed can be dangerous – In another bed time reading incident, I decided to hurl my body onto my youngest son’s bed which was about a foot away from the wall. Unfortunately, my momentum carried me off the bed and down the foot crevice between bed and wall. Mom came hustling in to see what all the racket was as Dad was stuck trying to pry himself loose. Needless to say, sleep time was delayed due to the laughter which ensued.

6. You won’t believe what your son is doing – My oldest son is a climber and we have had some scary moments because of it. This was not one of them. My wife called me at work to tell me my son (hers too, but he was mine now) had climbed to the top of a forty-foot magnolia tree and in front of all of the neighborhood girls was peeing off the tree. She described it as a rainbow of urine. My wife was giggling so hard, she could not tell him to come down for a few minutes. And, just to have an extra witness, his Godmother was there as well.

7. Same son, another climbing incident – In our first house, there were built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves in the children’s bedroom by the door. Downstairs one evening, we heard this clump, clump, clump and went up to investigate. When we peeked in the room, we at first could not find him. On closer notice, we saw behind the door, he had thrown off the books and was sitting at the very top shelf with a big grin on his face swinging his legs.

8. We may not be permitted back in this store – At a local furniture store, my youngest son needed to go as my wife and I were looking for furniture. So, I walked him into the restroom and when he decided he wanted to go by himself, I checked making sure that no one was in there So, I walked outside and stood guard. For some reason, he decided the elevated wall urinal was a toilet and proceeded to do a number 2 in it. When I peeked in, I quickly grabbed him to take him to the toilet. Unfortunately, the missiles were flying so we plopped, plopped, plopped on our way to the toilet. After cleaning him up and making sure he was with his Mom, I said I will be a few minutes and told her about my new mission to clean up. That was some expensive furniture.

9. One word can make a difference – Back in the 1990’s, my company took pride in being a forerunner in offering mobile mammograms for our female employees. We were into wellness in a big way. As an aside, out of 9,000 screenings, there were 11 breast cancers detected that were caught early enough. I mention this as I was talking with someone on my team who led our wellness efforts. It was October and I made the point that we need a big push since it was “Breast Awareness Month.” My friend and colleague in her best dead pan voice, said BTG it’s “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

10.  Reading can make you sleepy – When my daughter was little, we read voraciously, sometimes three and four books a night. I used to lie beside her as we read so she could see the pictures, but Dad had a bad habit of falling asleep after a couple of books. I would awaken to her pushing me “Daddy wake up, I need to go to sleep.” After that I had to sit on the floor to stay awake. She banned me from reading lying down.

11. The Red Cardinals are different – My daughter used to have about 30 stuffed animals in her room. She named them all, usually with very interesting, whimsical names as she was pretty creative and well read. Yet, all were given female names. One day, my brother-in-law gave her a red cardinal. She proceeded with her normal naming convention. It hit me a few seconds later and I started grinning. She asked why I was smiling and I asked her a question I knew she knew the answer to. What color are the female cardinals? She started laughing and said I need a new name for this guy.

12. Missing child in the house – We used to have a Golden Retriever who liked to sleep on the oriental rug under our dining room table. It caught a nice sun in the afternoon and when it was cold it was very cozy. One day, we could not find my youngest son and looked everywhere. The doors had the dead bolt locks on, so he had to be in the house. After several minutes of frantic looking, we found him under the dining room table laying close to the dog, sound asleep. This is more “awwww” than “ha ha”  but I thought it would be good to close with that one.

Thanks for reading. Life is funny, so remember to laugh at yourself. If you are not laughing, you might be alone in your silence. And, don’t take yourself too seriously or one day you may find yourself cleaning up poop in a furniture store restroom. God has a sense of humor. Please feel free to share any comical moments that these stories may cause you to remember.