This afternoon I went to see the movie Date Night with my parents. I sat between them in my hometown's main theater , sharing their sodas, as if I were 8 years old. The movie was very funny and engaging, but I think that what I enjoyed most about the movie was watching (and listening to) my father watch it.
My dad has the best laugh. Loud and throaty, when he thinks something is really funny, it takes over his whole body and he shakes and heaves. Twice during the movie, he slapped his knees as he doubled over in laughter. When something was really, really hilarious, he looked at my mother and me, laughing hard with raised eyebrows, as if the funniness was just too much for him to take.
He jokes almost as much as he laughs--telling jokes that range from juvenile to truly raunchy. His puns are sometimes brilliant--more often cheesy, but regardless, they flow steadily from his lips.
When I think about how I am in the world as an adult, I can't help but see the influence that my father's love of all things funny has had on me. My friends will surely tell you that I tell corny jokes (and my mom will tell you I take after my father), but hopefully they'll also tell you that sometimes I tell really funny ones too. My theory is that if I just keep joking, eventually I'll tell a good one.
The bottom line, as far as I can tell, is that jokes, puns and funny movies are, at their very core, a vehicle for laughter. And laughter is something we can always use more of.