Watch out! April is National Humor Month, and you might just hear peals of laughter, a fit of the giggles, or a few begrudging snickers – maybe even a “Gotcha!” on April Fools Day. It’s time to load up on the fun! Your group might enjoy some of the activities suggested below. We have included plenty of “laughs from yesteryear” to rekindle some pleasant memories.
- ACTIVITY: Enlist a volunteer to dress up in a simple Groucho Marx costume, or use Groucho glasses with attached mustache. Ask the volunteer to imitate some of Groucho’s famous one-liners. Example: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”
- ACTIVITY: Hold up a sign that says “DO NOT LAUGH.” Challenge your group to keep a straight face as you read some funny anecdotes, one-liners, and riddles from the Reader’s Digest column, “Laughter, the Best Medicine.”
- ACTIVITY: Display prints of Norman Rockwell’s three April Fool paintings for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. (1943 – “The Game”; 1945 –“Fishing”; 1948 –“Curiosity Shop”) Try to locate the “errors” that Rockwell playfully included in the paintings.
- ACTIVITY: Hold a straw-blowing contest. Divide the group into two teams, and give each member a drinking straw plus some ping-pong balls. Create a finish line on a table. See which team can blow the most balls over the finish line in a set length of time.
- DISCUSSION: Talk about the meaning of the following sayings: fit of laughter, roll in the aisles, keep a straight face, belly laugh, laugh till the cows come home, split one’s sides, a laugh a minute, laugh yourself silly, bring the house down, tickle your funny bones, be in stitches. Ask: Why is laughter important? What makes you laugh? Hoot and holler? Giggle uncontrollably?
- MUSIC: Invite a harmonica player to share the history of the instrument and to play some old tunes for your group. (Suggestions: “Shine On, Harvest Moon,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Red River Valley”)
- MUSIC: Sing some humorous songs. Examples: “I Know an Old Lady,” “Mairsy Doats,” or “Bicycle Built for Two.” (For more ideas, see the session titled “Humor in Music” from the ElderSong resource Roses in December.)
- REMINISCE: Collect some funny fads from the 1930s -1960s (ex: Silly Putty, sock monkey, poodle skirt, ant farm, 3-D movie glasses, zoot suit, lava lamp, mood ring). Ask for volunteers to pick a fad and tell what they remember about it. Share other favorite fads and crazes.
- REMINISCE: Show a vintage photograph of a family sitting around the radio. Listen to an old radio show, like The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show, Burns and Allen, The Fred Allen Show, or Abbott & Costello. Reminisce about family entertainment during the 1930s and 1940s.
- REMINISCE: Learn about the history of the S.S. Adams Company, which began in 1906. This business marketed jokes, gags gifts, tricks, and prank ideas. Ask participants if they have ever ordered any of these from the company’s catalog: joy buzzer, garlic gum, fake lips, razzberry cushion, itch powder. Share funny memories of other gag gifts such as disappearing ink, dribble glass, or snake nut can.
- TELEVISION: For a double-dose of laughter, gather your group for an afternoon of classic TV sitcoms. Choose from favorites like I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show. Challenge your group to a Funny People Trivia Quiz. (See the trivia quiz in this issue of the newsletter.)
- TELEVISION: Celebrate the birthday of comedian Carol Burnett on April 26. (Use the DVD set The Carol Burnett Show – Carol’s Favorites, available from ElderSong.) Imitate Carol’s “Tarzan yell.”
- COOKING: For some April Fools fun, serve some funny food, like a pizza cake, Snickerdoodle cookies, or green eggs with ham.
- MOVIE: Watch the cheerful Disney musical Mary Poppins from 1964. Enjoy songs such as “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “I Love to Laugh,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Challenge your group to create the smaller words from supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
- SPORTS: Discuss the meaning of “Stengelese,” named after baseball’s Casey Stengel. Read some examples of his homespun wit (search online). Example: “I made up my mind, but I made it up both ways.” Or, read some of Yogi Berra’s funny sayings: “They paid me in cash, which is just as good as money.”
FUNNY PEOPLE TRIVIA QUIZ
- Which comedy team (one tall, one short) delivered the famous routine, “Who’s on First”? Abbott & Costello
- Which “cheapskate” radio and TV comedian always claimed he was 39? Jack Benny
- Phil Silvers played Ernie Bilko in a TV sitcom. What was the setting of the show? An Army base
- Which comedian was known as Mr. Television? Milton Berle
- Which female comic’s trademark character was the bratty Baby Snooks? Fanny Brice
- Which comedian played bus driver Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners? Jackie Gleason
- Who was Dean Martin’s sidekick at one time and later played The Nutty Professor? Jerry Lewis
- Which comic TV clown played Freddie the Freeloader? Red Skelton
- “I don’t get no respect,” said this comedy great. Who was he? Rodney Dangerfield
- Name the Three Stooges. Moe, Curly, Larry, or Shemp
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
“FUNNY DAYS” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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