On Not Being Funny

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Ryan picked up one of the “Conversation Starter” cards on the restaurant table and he read, “What is your favorite part of camping?”

Without hesitation I replied, “The open mic.”

This is a story about the least funny thing I ever did.

I grew up next to Logan Airport and by “next to” I mean “practically on the runway”. Winthrop, though a pretty suburb, is also lousy with jet-fuel. Most outdoor conversations endure long pauses to allow for overhead traffic. We lived minutes away from downtown Boston, and camping was just something people did on TV.

But we did have a Brownie troupe and my mom was the lead-mom. We made crafts and drank juice after school on Tuesdays in the cafeteria. It was great and sometimes there was freeze-dance. Which ruled.

I think all Brownie/Junior/Girl Scout participants have to go on a camping trip, and ours took us to some big lodge that seemed like utter wilderness. In actuality I think it was probably just 10 minutes away from a mall. Oh, but we were wild, free, and checked for ticks pretty much every 15 minutes.

I’d heard the song, “Camp Granada” somewhere and thought it was the height, I mean, the height of hilarity. When I think about the way my sense of humor developed as a kid, I get a total kick out of it. Just that sentiment of , “They’re feedin’ me SLOP over here!” was uproariously funny to me.

So, for the open mic I did a rendition of “Camp Granada” only Brownie style. I don’t think I had anything particularly planned, but I just got up and started singing …and singing…verse after verse of improvised “camp is a drag!” lyrics. I think I replaced “Camp Granada” with “Brownie-ada”. Right.

It was the least funny thing I ever did.People just started getting up and getting snacks/going to the bathroom after verse four. Even the adults. It was a true comedy fail.

When I think back on it now I cringe a little, but moreover, I’m in awe. In second grade, when I was hanging out with my friends, I didn’t give a crap. I liked singing, so I sang…and sang…and sang. If this story was set in fourth grade, just two measly years later, I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting up in front of everyone. Adolescence brought on so much anxiety for me, as I think it does for a lot of people.

I was just reflecting on this – the pure joy and confidence of being a little girl. To not even know what embarrassment is! I think I’m still on a journey of trying to get back to that place of total unselfconsciousness.

We should all be able to just sing and sing and not be funny, and not care. That’s living.

So then Ryan responded, “What? Erin, do you know what camping is?”

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3 thoughts on “On Not Being Funny

  1. Oh. My God. I bombed too! The year we had a fashion show and all the moms sang “Pretty Woman” for each runway walk, I decided to sing my own version of the song mashed up with “Stop in the Name of Love”. The crickets were definitely louder then the clapping after I was done. Also, Jilane was a TIC magnet!

  2. Awesome stories, ladies! What I remember about that time in my life is that I stayed in the not-being-embarrassed-as-long-as-what-is-happening-was-my-plan-all-along phase a lot longer than my friends did. Call it immaturity (because that’s certainly what it was/still is), but there was the short span of time – probably up through middle school – where I would be acting out or whatever and not embarrassing myself, but mortifying my friends. That, ladies, is how you stay out of the popular crowd through the rest of your K-12 career. It is also how you continue to make decisions that make your husband cringe and refuse to attend public events with you. jealous?!

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