Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Behind the Laughter

I'm sitting here watching E! when I should be writing a school assignment about Laugh at Lunch. It's an event offered through our college where a professional comedian comes in and tells jokes to the students. Admission is free.

So they set this latina chick jokester in some hole in the wall room that upon entering smelled like a bowl of sourcream and onions left out in the sun too long. After some pretty funny hysterics, including a dead on impersonation of an oriental manicurist and a fabulous way to catch telemarketers off guard (when they ask is this [name] you answer in a flamboyant Rosie Perez kind of accent "From the waist down!" The finale came when the entertainer called up two people to participate in a contest giveaway for a t-shirt and dvd. To win, they had to name four songs from an artist in their favorite area of music.

Up went Guy and Girl. I forget their names, but I did interview both of them after. The rap lover girl changed her mind on what singer she wanted to do (she couldn't think of 4 Jay Z songs?) after we all hummed the theme tune from Jeopardy. Finally she settled for Beyonce. Bootylicious anyone?

The guy couldn't think of a single song with the word Love in its title. He was much older than your stereotypical college student (in his thirties, but he seemed older) and there was a certain awkwardness about him which was amplified by his thick rimmed brown glasses and receeding hairline. The out of place vibe stood out even more when said comedian reminded him that he was supposed to be the man up with a "you're the one with the penis honey!"

After the show I tracked down the older man walking around the cafeteria with just a backpack, and asked him a few questions like "How did you like the show?" "Did you find it funny?" "Will you go to another Laugh at Lunch?"

His responses were pretty basic. "The show was great," "Yes, it was very funny," and "Definitely!" But what hit me the most was a personal disclosure he shared with me. He'd been diagnosed with a brain disease that made it very hard to remember things, and he came to events like these to get healthier through laughter.

I couldn't help but be touched by this man and his story. As he disappeared in the lunchroom crowd I took a newfound appreciation for my school. By providing such entertainment to the students and community, though not taken advantage of by all, for some it's healing and something that keeps them going in life. I pray for this man, and I hope he lives a life full of laughter.