The first man said, “Yes, you can help me. I was taking these penguins to the zoo and my truck broke down and I’m wondering if you would be willing to take them on for me.”
The other man said, “Sure, I’ll be happy to take them.”
Then both men went about the business of taking the penguins off one truck and putting them on the other. At this point, the first man said, “Here is a little something for your trouble.”
The second man took a look at what he had given him and it was a hundred dollar bill.
About an hour later, the first man got his truck fixed and then headed for the zoo to check on his precious cargo. When he arrived, this second man and the penguins were nowhere in sight. At this point, he began to ask around if anyone had seen this man and his penguins. Finally, someone told him that they had seen a man and some penguins downtown, which was several blocks away.
After driving around for about 30 minutes he finally spotted them, the man and about 15 penguins all in single file behind him. The first man rushed up to him and said, “I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo.” The second man said, “I did take them to the zoo. We had so much fun and I had a little money left over, so now I’m taking them to the ball game.”
Hope you enjoyed this little story because we all need to take a break from the serious and mundane from time to time. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
In my own life I have found that it’s pretty hard to be sad and unhappy when I am laughing. To be sure, there are a lot of sad and unhappy people in the world today and many of these could change their lot and circumstances if they would just relax and place things in perspective. Anything short of terminal or fatal can usually be worked out over time with right thinking, some planning and the right mental attitude.
When it comes to the subject of humor, something the Scottish essayist and philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said will place it in perspective. He said, “The essence of humor is love; it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lies far deeper.”
While I don’t know about you, I love a humorous story if it’s in good taste, told in the proper way, and even more so, when it’s used to make a point. It is a sure sign of inexperience when a speaker comes to the podium and says, “I know that I am supposed to tell a couple of jokes to begin my talk today ...” and then they proceed to tell what would be funny stories if they had not tipped the audience off that they were coming and if they had any bearing at all to the subject matter or purpose of the meeting.
The ability to use humor in a way that makes our communication more effective is a wonderful gift that comes naturally for some people and, sadly for others, is like pulling teeth. No fun at all. Whether the occasion is casual conversation or in a formal speech or presentation, the key is to be able to take good material and be able to adapt it to meet the need of the moment. Again, for some it is natural and spontaneous, and for others it is something to practice and to work on. I might add, it is worth the effort and over time will pay all kinds of rewards.
There are many good sources of humorous material around, but a friend sent me a few church-related stories that you might be able to use if you will change them a bit and pick your spots. The first one goes, “A wife invited some people over to dinner. At the table, she turned to their 6-year-old daughter and said, ‘Would you like to say the blessing?’ ‘I wouldn’t know what to say,’ the girl replied. ‘Just say what you hear Mommy say,’ the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, ‘Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?’”
And here are a couple more that would be funny if they were not so close to the truth.
“A Sunday school teacher asked her children, as they were on the way to church service, ‘And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?’ One bright little girl replied, ‘Because people are sleeping.’”
And finally here is my favorite, “After the christening of his baby brother in church, little Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, ‘That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you.’”
One word of caution in telling humorous stories. Regardless of what your beliefs and convictions may be, if you tell ethnic or off-color stories, you are asking for trouble.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)