Celebrating Silliness

April Fools’ Day is almost here… And I can’t wait! Thought you’d enjoy my latest parenting column for Sesame Workshop — Sesame Newsletter “April Fools Fun” — in which I recount some of the recent pranks that have been pulled on me by my kids, Finian and Olivia. Hope you find it enlightening and inspirational. As always, feel free to add your Comments below. I’d love to hear of any wonderful practical jokes that you’ve pulled — or that have been pulled on you. Before I go, I stumbled on this short video of a sweet baby getting “pranked” by his cruel parents —The Art of the Tart (What cracks me up is that the baby keeps going for the lemon, hoping that it might actually test better on the second or third try.)

Jordan and His Favorite Pranksters

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The Germ-Spangled Banner (it’s the microbes turn to sing!)

Last month, I was asked to be the “visiting author” at a local elementary school, to talk about a new kids science book I wrote — MICRO MANIA: A Really Close-Up Look At Bacteria, Bedbugs & The Zillions Of Other Gross Little Creatures That Live In, On & All Around You!

As part of my talk to the 3rd grade classes, I showed a short music video, featuring a lyric I wrote to the tune of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The song is sung from the point of view of all the invisible critters that surround us, many of which help us survive…May it inspire you to wash your hands regularly — but not turn you into a germaphobe!

So, with apologies to Francis Scott Key, whose remains are probably being devoured by billions of bacteria at this very moment, herewith is my ode to “the little guys.”

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Pranks for the Memories (Aprils Fools’ Day Redux)

For most folks, APRIL FOOLS’ DAY is a fleeting holiday, often ignored and even shunned. This year, on April 1, some people were praised for their masterful leg-pulling, while other publications got in trouble.

Normally, I have a blast creating little jokes and playing tricks on friends and colleagues. This year, however, I was so busy with work (no small feat in these trying times) that I didn’t even get to play a single trick. Another reason for my “humor abstinence” during AFD this year was that I was mildly concerned that if I encouraged AFD tricks in our home, my 8-year-old son Finian would go completely bezerk with clever hijinks, shenanigans, and tomfoolery. He’s a picture of my Master Prankster off-duty.

Anyway, this seemed like a fine time to share some “classic” parenting columns I wrote for Sesame Workshop in honor of April Fools’ Day (SEE PDF FILES BELOW). These essays celebrate the joy and importance of developing your kids’ senses of humor. Hope you enjoy the silly stories therein.

I’d love to hear about any April Fools’ pranks that you sprung, (or were sprung on you) this year. Feel free to share such stories via a Comment below.

A Sense of Humor? Ha! (2007) – Sesame Family Newsletter (PDF)

Celebrating Silliness (2005) – Sesame Family Newsletter (PDF)

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Sing Along with Eric (My New Theme Song!)

As a kid, I loved singing the theme songs to my favorite TV shows, such as The Brady Bunch, The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres and many more. For years, I’ve yearned for my own theme song. Now that dream is a reality. Wahoo!

A few weeks ago, I came up with the silly lyrics for “ONE Jordan Brown.” I shared these with talented composer Eric Rockwell, who I met years ago at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in NYC. (Eric was the composer and one of the stars of the delightful off-Broadway hit The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!).

Eric not only agreed to set my lyrics to music, but also gave them a razzle-dazzle performance for this web site. Enjoy!

If you’re inspired to sing along, here are the lyrics.

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Thou Shalt Laugh: Remembering George Carlin

I’ve always admired satirist Paul Krassner’s credo: “Irreverence is my only sacred cow.” As many top comedians have demonstrated, with the right attitude and approach, almost anything can be a source for humor. No one proved that with more finesse then the late George Carlin, who passed away yesterday at 71.

As a kid, long before I dreamed that I would major in the study of humor in college, I loved Carlin’s remarkable combination of ballsy irreverence and intellectual rigor. I sometimes wondered what would have happened if Carlin can become a professor rather than a comedian. Not doubt, he would have waited until after he had tenure to publish his treatise on the “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television.”

In tribute to this great funny man (and apparently really nice guy, from what I’ve read in his obits), here is one of my favorite routines, in which Carlin takes on “The Ten Commandments.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Memoir

I recently came across a couple of interesting memoirs that deal with one of my favorite subjects: humor (or “humour” to my friends in Canada and the U.K.) What’s really impressed me about these books is that they deal with humor in a way that is both analytical and funny. Most people would agree with E.B. White who quipped, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” Robin Williams expressed the same sentiment when he told an interviewer, “Analyzing humor is like self-abuse with sandpaper.” While discussions of humor and comedy can indeed be deadly; others can be quite delightful and thought-provoking. Here are some reactions to these memoirs, which I hope you’ll be inspired to read yourself.

Read the rest of this entry »

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