One of the upsides of doing a story is all the leftover stuff that never gets in the story. I may use 10 to 30 percent of an interview or use about the same percentage of all research I’ve dug up. That doesn’t mean the material left out is bad stuff. It’s often times great stuff but it doesn’t fit the focus of the article or the audience its intended for.
For instance, I’ve been writing a story for Thriving Family, a new publication of Focus on the Family. The story is on the role of humor to bring healing in family life. The target audience is parents with children ages 4-12. Well, I’ve talked to some wonderful people over the last month or so and gotten some great thoughts on this topic. One of those folks is my friend Jim Jinkins.
Jim is the creator of the cartoon, Doug, which appeared on Nickelodeon and then jumped to ABC. True secret: I loved watching Doug as much as my oldest son David. I’ve always been a sucker for animation. Along with business partner and long-time freind David Campbell he put together PB&J Otter and a bunch of other shows which you can check out at Cartoon Pizza. Pinky Dinky Doo is on the schedule at Nick Jr. right now and you and your kids can catch it there. Jim and his wife Lisa were kind enough to offer their thoughts on why humor in family life was a good idea.
When I was a kid I felt very much like the cartoon character Doug (No coincidence there!). I was not the smartest or the best athlete or the snazziest looking kid in school but I began to notice that I could get people to laugh. It quickly grew to become a favorite way to get in trouble with my teachers. Fellow classmates would get me to make up a new soundtrack to the boring health movies or revise the captions in our history books.It also became my primary defense (and sometimes weapon) to protect me in the treacherous jungle of elementary and junior high school politics (and really throughout life!). In 3rd grade lunch period, Dennis Taylor bet me his ice cream that I couldn’t make Barry Schwartz laugh so hard he’d do a milk spit-take. I ate free ice cream everyday. Once I got Schwartz laughing so hard at some random comment about mystery meat that milk came out of his nose. For a brief time this elevated me to rockstar status at our table.
Well, Lisa Jinkins is pretty funny in her own right. She shared the following story in response to my question, “What do you think of this statement: Being able to laugh helps kids become resilient instead of hypersensitive.” (Thanks Kathy Hoffer for this comment from another interview). Here’s Lisa’s take:
If you can laugh at yourself, the situation, where you are at in life and what’s surrounding you, then you don’t have a chance to focus on just yourself. I remember walking down the street in NYC, pushing my grocery basket (that old lady kind, with wheels) and grumbling, thinking about how I had so much to do, and now I’ve got to go do the shopping, etc, etc., when all of a sudden the front wheels got caught in a crack on the sidewalk and, in almost slow motion, I fell forward over the cart!
I looked up and saw this guy watching me and I could see myself from his view – I must have looked absolutely crazy funny – slowly trying to stop the cart, one leg up in the air, fumbling and trying to catch hold of the air. Priceless! I thought how ridiculous I must look! I started laughing non-stop and of course, that allowed the guy to laugh and he asked if I was okay, etc.
OK, one last thing. I asked this question of Jim and Lisa, “What would you say to someone thinking, ‘Well, Jim Jinkins is funny but I’m not funny. I don’t have a sense of humor like that guy.’ Are there ways for the humor challenged to develop this in their family life?” This is Lisa:
Well, I’m not Jim Jinkins – and I can make him laugh!!! I must say, when I can make Jim laugh, really laugh, it’s so satisfying! Honestly, humor is anything that you find funny – it can be a dry, smart humor, slapstick, being a goofball and a good ol’ flatulence joke can crack up any boy, no matter what age! (and plenty of us girls, too!).
And Jim’s response to the question, “Can you develop a sense a humor?”
No, there isn’t. I’d say just give up. That’s it, I’m done! … You KIDS GET OUT OF MY YARD!!!
And as the saying goes, “B-deep, b-deep, b-deep, that’s all folks!”