I’ve written before ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ about how I don’t always get jokes. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that a great many jokes are hard for me to understand why other people find them funny. Jokes or anything that starts with the words “Two” (of anything) “walk into a bar…”, or The Onion, (I can’t tell you how many times Richard will thrust some headline from the Onion at me, only for me to say, “wait, what? I don’t get it. Why is that funny?”) fall flat. At this point, Richard now tells me jokes or shows me things that he knows I won’t laugh at because he finds my response as funny if not funnier than the actual thing. Apparently humor is all the more so when someone is completely clueless. I’m good at that – playing it straight.
For those who follow this blog, you know by now that I am in the recording studio all week recording Barb Rentenbach’s terrific book, I might be you. Barb has a wonderfully nuanced and, at times, sarcastic wit. I can do sarcasm, and wit for that matter, except, as it turns out, when I’m reading aloud someone else’s words. In addition to this challenge of mine, when I’m nervous, my blue-blooded-upper-crust-WASPy heritage becomes even more pronounced. So when I’m reading some of Barb’s naughtier bits, not only do my cheeks turn quite pink, I also pretty much stomp all over the delivery of a number of her otherwise humorous sentences. Because if you read a sentence that is funny as though it weren’t and said it straight, carefully articulating each word as though doing an exercise in drama class, the humor is completely and utterly lost. The only analogy I can think of that captures this is, imagine reciting the Commodore’s 1977 hit song, Brick House. “She’s a brick —– ‘ouse, mighty, mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out…” but instead of saying the words as they were meant to be read, carefully articulate each word as though reciting a psalm in church. I think that gives you an idea of what happened a couple of times in the recording studio.
Fortunately I do have a sense of humor and can laugh at my fumbling. Barb and Lois were kind and patient. Even when I had to repeat the sentence until I got the inflection right, they did not fall on the floor in hysterical laughter or poke fun. I’m grateful to them. Really. Because truthfully, that had to have been pretty funny to witness. The good news is, I was able to get it right… eventually, which is important because this book, this incredible book by Barb and Lois deserves to be heard as it was written, with elegance, eloquence, poignant power, laced with self-deprecating humor. Every few moments I’d look up to see Barb beaming at me and Lois giving me an enthusiastic thumbs up and I would continue reading feeling exuberant and grateful to be involved in such an incredible project.
Barb showing Em encouragement later that afternoon.