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Courtesy Laughs · 12 March 2016


Apparently, I have no sense of humor. Or timing. Fortunately, I do get courtesy laughs every once in a while. I am thankful for that.


I thoroughly enjoy teaching high school students. They want to learn. At least for the most part. Unfortunately for me, they also want to be entertained. It is unfortunate because I cannot tell a joke to save my life.


I am not sure how it all started, but I have not been able to tell a joke since I was a child. To this day I can either only tell the setup or the punch line. There is some disconnect between the two in my brain. And never the twain shall meet.


It is a strange phenomenon considering that all my relatives can tell jokes. My dad, brothers, and sons all get laughs from jokes that they tell. Especially, since they can tell both the setup and the punch line. All I get is laughs for not remembering one or the other. It is okay though. I have figured out how to live with my inability to tell jokes. I just point to my own foibles and follies and failures. They usually get me laughs.


Knowing that I cannot tell jokes helps me stay away from them when I am in the classroom. I realize that I am not practicing for my next career as a standup comic like one of my friends. Marc and I shared a classroom years ago and he would always tell his students that he was practicing for that next career. He, like most people, had no problem setting up the joke and delivering the punch line. And he got the laughs from the students.


So even though I am not practicing for my next career, I must admit that I like to get laughs from my students. And I do get them. I just train them when to laugh. By that I mean that I actually tell them when to laugh. I will say something dumb or that is supposed to be a joke and when nobody laughs, I tell them, “You are supposed to at least give me a courtesy laugh.” They usually do the “Ha ha” fake laugh after I instruct them. Then, as the year goes on, some of them figure out when they are supposed to fake laugh. Some of the students do not even listen and still give the courtesy laugh around the right time. I always appreciate it. Even when the laughs are not quite timed right.


That is one of the great things about teaching. I get to stand up in front of my classes and tell dumb jokes (the only ones I can tell) or say stupid things and get laughs for them. I know they are not real laughs, but I still appreciate them. For even though I need to teach my students when to give me courtesy laughs, I do eventually get them. And getting any laughs is a great thing. Especially for somebody like me, who has no sense of humor.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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