Remember that iconic scene when Tommy DeVito (portrayed flawlessly and I suspect somewhat effortlessly by Joe Pesci) goes on his rant after being called “funny”? Here’s the quote:
“I mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”
Joe Pesci’s genius notwithstanding, this is a hard scene to watch. It’s one of the most cringe-worthy, yet most quotable scenes in the history of film. Isn’t it?
That scene, that momentary lapse of sanity for Pesci’s character, when he’s not sure whether to be insulted or flattered, is what comes to mind when I hear things like “I just want someone who makes me laugh.” What, like, on command? Please elaborate. I mean if I’ve got to stand at the mic and tell you jokes, you’d better be pulling out some pretty astounding party tricks yourself. You know what I’m sayin’? *wink, wink*
That said, it’s actually me who has been thinking it this week. Someone who makes me laugh is probably the one quality I value over all others when it comes to friendships, acquaintances, sometimes even work collaborators. It’s something I cherish in all my dealings with my brother. It’s something I admire in clever people and I find charming in men.
I went to lunch with a friend this week. She’s a sweet person. We went to high school together but only recently have become close. She is funny and, even better, she laughs at my jokes. We have similar outlooks on life and work.
When I think about recent date nights I’ve had with my husband, the ones I consider most “successful”, meaning we got along great and had a good connection and I felt reassured about us, are the ones that included laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
No one is funnier than my brother. I don’t know if this is because we grew up together so I’ve grown accustomed to it, or because he is truly a genius, or if we are so similar and have been “in the trenches together”, so to speak, so our humor is naturally shared and familiar. We laugh every time we are together. Heck, I laugh at his texts and social media messages, too.
Sometimes my seven-year-old tells me I’m “hilarious” or high-fives me to indicate approval of a joke. It’s one of the highest compliments my heart can receive. I remember how excited I was when his humor evolved from knock-knock jokes that don’t make any sense but it’s my motherly duty to laugh, to puns that were so clever I found myself questioning whether he’d actually made them up himself. (And the pride I felt at that!)
Levity seeps into all areas of my life. Books, podcasts, tv shows, work… I seek it out. I suppose this is partially because I associate humor with wit. Or, rather, humor is generally associated with cleverness, outside of my own opinion, and I greatly admire clever people. To take it one step over that line is that humor opens the door to empathy. The Human Experience. When I find someone who is funny, who finds humor in the same things I do, who thinks my jokes are funny or whose humor tickles me, a bond is created. There is an immediate trust, an instant understanding.
So… yeah. To hold a special place in my heart (and my social circle), you need to be funny. Funny like a clown. I’ll be funny too. I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you.