Thursday, April 29, 2010

Think beyond ,"My, you sure have grown!"

The older two former neighbor kids dropped by tonight, dressed to help clean up after the remodeling team.

Beth is a superb 9 year old pianist with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in her future. James at near 8 is a budding palentologist. They are growing like little weeds!

With WNBA scouts recruiting earlier and earlier -- Beth may be the first professional basketball player in her family. (OK, so I photoshopped about ten inches onto her legs)

Mundane Grampas have a few phrases that bore kids to death. One of them is "My you sure have grown! Think past the usual common phrases. Come up with something original--that shows your brain cells are still active, Grampa!

Try, "Goodness, your legs are running away with you!" That usually gets a self conscious grin and a little appreciation for paying attention! With some thought and a little planning about the situations you'll run into, you can be more clever than expected. Your task is to develop and nurture a trusting, fun relationship with your grams!

The Difference between a Comic and a Comedian

Among the relationship skills most folks never cultivate is the ability to create and handle humor. Years ago I heard Johnny Carson explain in a documentary on humor what the difference is between a Comic and Comedian. Carson explained that comedians are a dime a dozen. They memorize set jokes and do their best to entertain folks around the water cooler in the elevator. They're a dime a dozen--and rarely good. Most folks groan or give courtesy laughs to appreciate the effort.

Back in the day when the Osmond Studio was going full tilt--a troup of pros taught me a little about warming up an audience. The Osmonds gave me a chance to be a warm up man for one of the shows and I dug into my palty supply of set jokes. One of the older, hipper comic actors got a big laugh imitating me.

I did all the jokes I'd memorized in about 5 minutes--and resorted (shamefully) to sifting through the jokes in front of the audience and "reading" them to the crowd. They sat still for a few of these before rolling their eyes and begging for bathroom privileges. My comeuppance came as the comic actor walked on after I'd walked to the side and pantomimed flipping through index cards. The audience gave him a big laugh---at my expense!

Years later, in a Dick Clark production of the Donny & Marie show I got a chance to see a first class warm up guy at work--and here's the difference:

A comic can take the funny, quirky, silly details around him, call folks attention to it...and make fun! (as in make fun of something) Good comics are rare. All the great comedians of Bob Hope's era: George Burns, Jan Murray, Jack Benny, Buddy Hackett -- all fine comedians and great comic actors. Much as I hate to admit it, Don Rickles is one of the best at making fun out of the siutation.

A Great Grampa always seems to have a perpetual twinkle in his eye!

One of the best at this comic skill is Vernon Thompson, elected recently to the Grampa Hall of Fame. His laughter at work defused tension and endeared us all to him as we worked together to find solutions and avoid blaming co-workers. (Enjoy Serious Laughter for Growth, a tribute to this Great Grampa.)

Enjoy developing this skill. Involving others in your humor will put you in demand at parties--but mostly in demand among gramchildren and help you develop the relationship for many many years to come! JRH

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