We know the benefits. How it de-stresses the soul, strengthens the immune system, boosts mood and morale. Humour Helps Life. So, in Isolation humour is essential.
My dream has always been to be part of a small group of close friends who laughed together on a daily basis, in some absurd job that would suit being ridiculous because that’s what I seem to be best at. (As a child I fantasised being a part of The Monty Python Team, not just for the comical acting but mainly for thinking up the hilarious bits. I could squander my life laughing.)
I love the feeling. The tight tummy contractions, the desperate securing of the bladder muscles, the snorting of breakfast through nostrils, the actual falling to the floor and rolling around, tears in free flow – I really miss it. It’s been too long, because Real Life Got In The Way. I was forced to grow -up, follow the adult norm.
Why as children is it OK to roll around, playing and laughing and being silly – with parents actually admiring them (though in my case, often with a deep sigh.)
Except when kids have fart competitions then the grown-ups frown. Why? Farting is so funny! It has a grown-up name: Flatulence Humour. And why else would there still buy fart cushions? (The British called them Poo-poo Pillows, the Americans Whoopee Cushions (dictionary term for whoopee: boisterous convivial fun – really? The Americans put fart sounds and sex together? Ew.)
Anyway, now there are electronic fart machines with different sounds and speeds. (Yes, I do have a small collection and it has amused many-a boring dinner party – not my dinner party, obviously).
And they can be ordered online.
I love to laugh. But my whole life I have been told that One Cannot Laugh One’s Way Through Life.
Shit. I was so hoping.
But now there is a new world situation, and I am going to do just that: I am going to laugh my way through this isolation!
So, switch off computers, TVs, all those darn teenage game consoles, and let’s goof around! Play proper old-fashionedgames, joke more, put on nonsensical plays, get the creative, fun spirit going. They say that Play is crucial for a child’s development, well in Isolation, its crucial for everyone’s survival.
Play relieves stress, improves the brain, stimulates mind and creativity and improves relationships and hence boosts the love around.
But the world is in Lockdown and everything is nonsensical and outrageous, and I am NOT going down. I am going to try to actually enjoy being locked in with my family. And to be able to laugh about it too. I prefer to be laughable and wacky, deliriously daffy and farcical than stuck sad under the covers. That can come when things are back to normal. Right now, hare-brained is good. It’s finally acceptable
Here are a few of My Favourite Things
Dress up for dinner
Black-Tie only works if you are doing a James Bond theme, but I mean DRESS-UP WITH HUMOUR.
It all began because, obviously we like to dress-up, and I have a cupboard full of silly things, and a mother, who is in her 80’s, and lives in her house across the moat. To keep her safe, we cannot see anyone. To keep her sane, we like to give her something to think about, look forward to, create and be a party to.
Every family member chooses an evening and a theme. That person must do everything according to the theme – lay the table, make the food, create the entertainment afterwards – the rest of us have to simply appear at 19.00, all dressed up. Metamorphosised and ready to laugh!
It all began with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Picnic – my daughter and I were just about to come out of self-isolation (after returning home from living on some far-off island in the Indian ocean), so we were still feared- we needed serious distance but we were desperate to see the family together again. We wanted more than a wave from my mother from across the moat or to have a kiss blown to us by my son, or an aria from my husband from the lawn.
So, it was decided: a picnic on the edge of the forest with Mad Hats and Masks would be in order- if we all kept our distance. It was so good to be out, to be together as a family, to be laughing, to be “normal” (yeah that’s us).
When we were finally free from self-isolation, and could move back into the main house, the dress-up bug had already bitten. This led to countless Theme Evenings, from my husband’s 007 evening, with much shaken but not stirred, to teaching the children Poker, to Toga Party video calls with friends in severe lockdown beyond their home (they did have sheets though!)
We cannot dress-up every night, sadly, because otherwise we would. Therefore, we must find other funny, laughable things to do before or after dinner.
Group Laugh (group hugs are old news):
If it’s been a hard day at the field office for my husband: everyone gathers close, and on the count of three, we laugh. Simply stand around and “1, 2, 3- LAUGH”! Yes, of course it HAS to be forced, especially at the beginning. But then it is just so funny that laughter bubbles up and we are falling over, our sides splitting. Sounds crazy? It is! (That’s the point).
I did not invent it, there are actually Laughter Clubs all over Denmark. (Yup, that’s why we top the charts on the world’s Happiness Index).
Everyone brings at least three jokes with them to dinner: to make it more exciting, dice are involved. If you get six you can tell your joke. It’s so unnerving to see and feel the desperation of people desperate to tell their jokes (before they forget). If you do forget you forfeit your joke and give it to someone of your choice. If it’s taking too long adding up to six helps. Add 1s and 3s if it’s getting late and the elderly are remembering the glass of wine more than their jokes, let them just tell it: They are seeing doubles anyway.
And of course, doubles count as twice!
After Dinner Games:
Squashed Sardines (It’s not a kitchen/cooking game though many Facebook posts of attempted muffin baking while in Lockdown should probably be given this title).
One person goes to hide – while the others count before spreading out to find that person. The idea is NOT to tell when the person is found, but to join. And then try to keep quiet in hiding while the others search. Lots of stifled snorty giggles. Last person to join the group squash is IT.
Prop – translated from Danish: Cork. It’s our after-dinner-party staple when there are guests. But it’s still fun between family. Collect all those wine corks (you can cut them in half if necessary, or have three each) and tie string around each one. Holding tightly to your string, pile them into the middle. Only one person has the dice and the cup – when a 6 is thrown, the cup has to catch the corks that are pulled away too slowly. NB – clear the table and make sure it’s a low, stable one.
Then the more serious: Tickle Tournaments and Pillow Fights (make sure the kids are on friendly terms- once high pitch screaming begins it may lead to broken bones). “Costume-up” to make it all more authentic and lots of betting helps the hysteria.
Lest we forget all the wonderful, old-fashioned board games – not bored games, but the funny, noisy ones that make one laugh hysterically. Dust them off and bring them out. Reliving good memories is fun too.
You have to make the creature noises of the other players’ animal, while trying to remember everyone’s animal and call. Put different nationalities/cultures together and it’s ridiculously funny. I cannot explain – just play it.
Cards Against Humanity
For older teenagers and adults – The box says: “A Party game for horrible people”. It is totally politically and personally incorrect and therefore insanely funny. (They actually now have a Family Edition, but I haven’t played it).
We could not find our Snakes and Ladders so we re-created it in the chequer-tiled Hall. (And dressed up to match).
My Ultimate Weeknight Plan:
Monday Madness: Anything goes, but start the evening with a Group Laugh. It will be the funniest thing you have ever done before dinner.
Touched Tuesday: Very absurd Theme night. Dress it up!
Wicked Whimsical Wednesday: Joke Night
Theatrical Thursdays: Dress up, or just put on a smash-hit performance, but it’s Game Night – From Monopoly to Poker, Pillow Fights to Tickle Tournaments – with high stakes.
Funny Farcical Fridays: Wear a funny hat, wig, or glasses to dinner – though all three is best. (We do this for family Christmas lunches and along with all the booze, it makes the photographs a lot better to look at.)
Then play Charades.
Silly Slaphappy Saturday: Theme night and it is STILL SATURDAY NIGHT, even in Isolation. Make it happen! (You can even dim the lights or flash them, add music then Dance!)
Stupendously Stupid Sundays: Long good Lunch with lots of daffy stuff. Ending off with a few hours exhausted in front of the TV watching Friends, Big Bang Theory or Trevor Noah.
Happily knowing, that tomorrow, it starts all over again!
Absurd is the new normal.
How are we ever going to get back to weird being, well just weird?