April is as good of a time as any to add a bit of comedy to your event calendar. Not only is April home to the prankster’s favorite holiday, April Fool’s Day, but it is also National Humor Month. Laughter, when it comes to senior health, is no laughing matter at all. In fact, studies have shown that laughter can decrease pain and blood pressure, as well as increase healing and overall emotional health. This spring, break out a few knock-knock jokes and add some comedy to your usual routine; you just may be surprised at the magic that happens.
MUSIC – There’s plenty to laugh about when it comes to songs, you just have to know where to look. Plan a musical comedy show with a favorite performer that your residents love; you can ask him or her to only perform silly songs. If you don’t have it in the budget to bring in an entertainer, have a silly song sing-a-long with some favorite songs that are sure to bring back memories and get the group members laughing. Include songs like “On Top Of Spaghetti,” “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor,” “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” and even “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”
SOCIAL – Host a Stand-Up Social and Joke Contest. Ask staff members and group members to sign up to tell their best (clean) joke, or do a silly comedy routine at the social. Have community members vote on their favorites, and then pass out fabulous prizes to the winners. This is a great event for increasing morale. If you have some participants who want to tell a joke but can’t remember the whole thing, write it – in large print – on a card for reading. (You’ll find some jokes online or in this month’s featured product Funny Bones Don’t Get Arthritis, Volume 2.)
FAMILY – Don’t leave family members out of the mix this month. Plan a Family Comedy Club Night for group members and family to attend together. Book a comedian to perform, and situate your performance space with small clusters of tables, like in a comedy club. Serve popcorn and soda while your guests enjoy the show. You can also give out fun door prizes that are comedy inspired, such as a comedy CD, prank books, or vintage toys like a whoopee cushion.
FOOD – Get your dining team involved to plan a special April Fool’s menu. With a few Google searches, you can find plenty of surprising ways to use food to surprise your group. A few of our favorites are these: (1) spaghetti and meatballs made out of frosting and pushed through a bag to form the “noodles”, with strawberry sauce for marinara and chocolate no-bake cookies shaped as meatballs; (2) apples cut in thin strips to look like French fries, with red frosting as ketchup. Of course, you won’t serve frosting and strawberry sauce as dinner, but it can definitely be a fun conversation starter before teasing “April Fool’s!” and getting to the real main course.
SPIRITUAL – You might think that there is no room for comedy in a spiritual setting, but we think that the two can go together quite well. You can choose to share silly church signs or church bulletin mistakes that will make your group chuckle. Or, you can bring a little laughter yoga into your community. Laughter yoga sessions are led by Certified Laughter Leaders and after participating in a class, you might want to ask your Administrator if you can become a facilitator as well. The classes are extra fun and usually a big hit with residents and staff alike.
CRAFTS – Surprise the staff by making a group craft that looks like you spilled cups of paint. Grab plastic cups and pour liquid glue in the bottom of each cup. Next, add some acrylic paint to the glue and give it a stir. Add more or less paint depending on the color you want your “spill” to be. Next, spill your cup onto wax paper, making sure that the glue mixture remains in contact with each cup and the wax paper. It looks like the cup has tipped over and spilled. This craft takes days to dry, but it is still a great craft to start on April Fool’s Day and then use throughout the month.
SENSORY KIT – Explore some silly things in a laughter-inspired sensory kit for this month. Include some vintage items like a whoopee cushion, snake in a can, and hand buzzer. Include a laugh machine that has recordings of different sounding laughs, along with a card with some silly knock-knock jokes. Listen to old radio shows as well, like Red Skelton. For taste, consider candy that looks like something else, such as lipsticks or other novelty candy that you find locally or online.
INTERGENERATIONAL – A local Girl Scout troop or elementary school class might love to hold a knock-knock joke competition, hosted by your community. Work with community members to come up with fun trophies, ribbons, and other prizes. Serve silly April Fool snacks and beverages while you listen to the students give their very favorite knock-knock jokes. Be sure to laugh loudly so that the children feel confident and proud.
GIVING BACK – Consider having a donation drive this month that supports a comedy-based charity such as RxLaughter, which pairs up volunteers and provides resources for people coping with medical uncertainties. Your staff can pay to wear jeans a few days this month, or group members can host a community-wide garage sale, art sale, or other event to raise money for the charity you choose.
CELEBRATION – Hold a Clown Day at your community, complete with local clowns with balloon animals, face painting, and silly jokes. Pass out red noses to everyone, serve cotton candy, and make an afternoon full of clowning around. This could become an annual event at your community.
LAUGHING IT UP TRIVIA
- Which barnyard fowl often crosses the road in jokes? Chicken
- Pranksters will sometimes toss the peel of which yellow fruit on the ground so someone will slip and fall? Banana
- What prank toy makes an embarrassing sound when you sit on it? Whoopee cushion
- Name the type of joke involves someone at the door asking “who’s there?” Knock- knock jokes
- In real life, Walt Disney was afraid of a particular small animal that he immortalized in cartoons. Name the small animal. Mouse
- What is funny money? Counterfeit currency
- Comedian Johnny Carson was the longest-running host of which late night television talk show? “The Tonight Show”
- What is another name for the funny papers? Comics
- Which comedian was well known for his work with the USO and entertaining troops overseas? Bob Hope
- Where is your funny bone? Your elbow (or your sense of humor)
LAUGHING-IT-UP THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.” ~ Betty White
“Laughing It Up” written by Haley Burress. © 2016 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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