“Pal? Pal, where ya at?”

“Pal’s not here, Kid. Just me.”

“What? Why’re you here at the Saddle Up, D. Avery? Where’s Pal?”

“Pal asked me to fill in this week. Said it might do you some good to touch base with your writer.”

“Hmmph. Ya know well as me I kin write m’sef.”

“I do know as well as you Kid. But Pal thought maybe I should check in on you.”

“Hmmph. But I s’pose ya knew I was gonna say that.”

“Kid, I know a lot of people identify me as your writer, but the fact is I don’t often know what you’re going to say or do. So why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you.”

 “I ain’t quite sure either. Guess it’s this writin’ thing.”

“I saw that you wrote a short story for Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat! Congratulations, Kid.”

“Yeah. Thanks. It’s jist that, people think I’m funny. That was a serious story a suspense an’ mystery.”

“Ahem. Okay. But, Kid. Being funny is your job around here.”

“Well that’s a lotta pressure, D., havin’ ta be funny. An’ then what if I ain’t funny?”

“Is that your worry? Sure, you take risks Kid. Everyone that writes at the Ranch is taking a risk, putting themselves out there. But I think it works; you are usually funny.”

“Yeah. Thanks. It’s jist that… ah, never mind.”

“No, what, Kid?”

“It’s jist that bein’ so funny an’ all, I worry I won’t never be taken seriously.”

“Seriously Kid? You’re worried about not being funny and about being too funny?”

“Well, it sounds funny when ya put it like that.”

“Listen, Kid, I’m glad you’re taking humor seriously.”

“You tryin’ ta be funny?”

“Not always. But humor always helps. I’ve been thinking about this lately. Maybe something I read at Norah Colvin’s site? Growth mindset and all that? I don’t know. But just recently the Wellness Committee at my new school asks, Did you know that humor is actually a way to build resilience? Yes, I did know that. Your friend Shorty must know that too, Kid. She set you up with the Saddle Up Saloon at the beginning of the pandemic so that you could help people reduce stress by giving them a laugh.”

“Yep, she give me an’ Pal a space ta ennertain folks.”

“Funny you should say that. A space. Sogyal Rinpoche, a Buddhist teacher from Tibet, said humor is a way of ‘making room’.  Of being accommodating. I always felt, as a teacher, that humor facilitated both teaching and learning in the space provided by its use. And humor can provide a lens to look at problems in a new way, to see things differently.”

“But I ain’t no teacher, D.”

“You might be, Kid. I’ve learned from you and from Pal. And what you do is provide people some time and space to step away from reality. As Elena Aguiliar says, When we laugh at ourselves, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. When we laugh with others, humor breaks down barriers, brings us onto common ground, and builds our resilience. If you can help people to laugh, Kid, and get silly, well that’s important work. Humor helps build a healthy mindset.”

“Mmm.”

“Aguiliar also says that much research has shown that laughter strengthens the immune system. And that laughter is grounding.

“It does feel good ta be a part a that. But that’s jist more pressure fer me ta be funny. An’ if I am funny then that’s jist more reason that folks mebbe won’t never take me seriously.”

“Look, Kid, playing the fool doesn’t make you foolish. Pay attention to old stories and traditional tales. The jester is as important as the wise man to balance the king, and the jester’s counsel and advice often contains more wisdom, in a more palatable form.”

“Mebbe. Like havin’ a musin’ character and a amusin’ character?

“Uh, yeah. But, look, Kid, if you really want a serious role, I can write you differently.”

“You’d do that fer me?”

“If it’s important to you, yes.”

“Kin fix it so I ain’t mixin’ up words, things ain’t goin’ over my head? Fix it so I ain’t messin’ up an’ gittin’ inta scrapes?”

“Sure.”

“Not annoyin’ Pal all the time?”

“Yes. I mean no. I mean, yes, you could not be annoying Pal all the time.”

“Well that doesn’t sound like much fun, D.”

“But I thought— ”

“Think agin. I was just Kid-ding!”

“Phew!”

“Mebbe I’ll even start tellin’ dirty jokes.”

“No, Kid, not that.”

 “What, ain’tcha got a sense a humus?”

“Ugh. See you around the Ranch, Kid.”

“Yep.”

“And Kid?”

“Yep?”

“Congratulations to you and to Pal. It’s a year today that you’ve been running the Saddle Up. And I think you’ve got another great year ahead.”

“Ya got that write, D.!”

Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse

And cool the earth, the air and you.

~Lanston Hughes

Interact! Leave a link to a favorite funny story, or leave the story in the comments. What are your thoughts on writing funny?

*Elena Aguiliar quotes are from her Onward; Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators .

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.


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