I like thoughtful debates. But when I worked full-time in radio, we would get the strangest phone calls from listeners; and I rarely had an opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion.
I remember a time when I was about 19 and I had just finished a book about etymology, which is the study of word origins. I learned that root word “ped” means “foot”. Therefore, this is where we get the English words “pedestrian”, “pedometer”, and “pedicure”. This may not seem very interesting to you today, but I was 19 at the time and was actually reading something, which shows that God does perform miracles, even on the smallest levels.
So, I’m working at the radio station (this was long before I started doing stand up comedy), and a man called in and said, “Hey, I just heard someone on your station refer to a man as a ‘human being’. The origin of the term ‘human being’ comes from the 14th century and it means ‘like a man’. So, basically an animal. We are not animals, so you shouldn’t call us ‘human beings’. You should just call us ‘man’”.
What a thing to get worried about!?
What was this guy’s ultimate goal… to reach out to all 330,000,000 English speaking “human beings” and try to change their evil ways? I did the math… if he were to successfully convert 200 people each day, it would take him 4,500 years to get a hold of everybody!
So, I told the caller, “I often use the term ‘human being’; and I don’t believe that man is merely an animal. I believe that man and woman have souls; and furthermore, I believe that almost all people use the term ‘human being’ to merely refer to someone who is part of mankind. I believe that it is quite possible that while the origins of the term ‘human being’ once referred to a non-human animal with human qualities, over the past six hundred years, the definition has changed slighting to incorporate all of mankind.
I wish I could say that the caller and I agreed to disagree at that moment. Instead, an incredibly weird shouting match ensued. I don’t remember everything that was said that day, but I do vaguely remember him accusing me of calling people animals. To which I replied, “No, you called me and are pretending that I am calling people animals.”
He went on, “Human beings are not animals!”
I retorted, “I used to believe that, too, before engaging in this phone call! You could get into the etymology as much as you want to, but the use of the word has changed.”
To which he replied, “It’s not ‘etymology’, it’s ‘the origin of a word’”.
I wish that I could say that I politely ended the conversation at that point. I wish that I could say that. However, instead, I was just done. I said, “Alright, I’m hanging up now. Good bye. Good bye, human being.”
To which he answered, “You’re being rude!”
And I finally ended the conversation with, “I’m not being ‘rude’, I am being discourteous and impolite! Bye, human being!”
Next, my buddy Chris Rossetti joins the show seeking advice for life’s issues. Chris went to a guy a number of years ago, laid down on his couch and bared his soul. The shrink took copious notes on his notepad (at least it appeared as such… he was probably just writing out that night’s grocery list). And offered Chris a prescription of medications to take.
“I don’t want to merely mask my problems, I want to get to the bottom of them and cure them”, said Chris.
“Well, I take these and they work fine for me.”
“You take them?”
“Of course I do”, replied the psychiatrist, “How else do you think I could bare listening to people like you all day and not have issues of my own?”
But, Chris’ issue on his front burner this week is weight loss. After seeing pictures and videos of my scrawny figure, he (ignorantly) thinks that I am an example of ideal physical health. I have successfully lost a few lb’s, but I’m no Mr. Universe. Anyway, Chris is looking for a means to lose weight without being told to eat less and burn more calories with exercise.
He can’t handle the truth.
His previous diet didn’t seem to work. He called it the “Lost and Found” diet. That’s where you work hard, lose some weight, then go out and celebrate and find it all again. It’s a very popular diet.
But, Chris is fighting an uphill battle (quite literally), living in San Francisco. The city is only seven square miles, but is home to over 3,000 restaurants! There are 39 located in the short three-mile span from Chris’ home to his office. And all of them, while cooking, are releasing calories in the air, which causes him to gain weight through osmosis!
To combat this caloric intake, Chris has taken up swimming. If nothing else, while underwater, the airborne calories can’t get to him. He goes to a huge pool with ten different lanes, designated for people with different speed levels. The fastest lane looks like human speedboats; and at the opposite end of the pool looks like a bunch of people actively treading water. That’s where Chris hangs out.
It’s a good place to exchange recipes with retired Chinese people.
(Not that they are done being Chinese and have since retired from their family origins, which would be an interesting option, coming from a guy who might be interested in retiring from being a white guy.)
Finally, juggler extraordinaire and funnyman Ron Pearson calls in and promises more fun than any Presidential debate!
Ron has had the fortune of getting audiences warmed up with laughter prior to tapings of family sitcoms, such as Netflix’s “Fuller House”. Most people aren’t aware of the process of taping a comedy in front of a live studio audience. The producers don’t rely on the show’s own jokes to induce gut-wrenching laughter. No, they rely on people like Ron to prime the pump and get the audience bubbling over with laughter before the cameras even begin rolling.
It’s a very specific skill to teach an entire audience how to sound just like canned laughter.
The trick is that it’s not simply a “get them laughing before cameras roll” kind of gig. Most times (and Ron has done this for THOUSANDS of episodes), each shoot takes five hours to finish and Ron has to keep them laughing between each take, through each set change, and during each pause in the production process.
Thank God Ron does more than just tell knock-knock jokes! He juggles, he performs balancing tricks, he’s incredibly funny and immensely entertaining! He’d have to be, in order to perform for five hours for over a thousand performances over the course of twenty years!
Speaking of his many talents, Ron recently took fourth place in the International Juggling Championships – FOURTH PLACE in the WHOLE WORLD! Even he is amazed by the accomplishment!
But, when it comes to blowing the roof off of television studios with the roars of audiences’ laughter, it’s neither telling perfect jokes nor juggling flaming swords while balancing on a unicycle that really brings satisfaction to my dear friend.
The way Ron sees it, every performance is like leading the audience on a unique journey. Each joke or trick is simply a part of the journey. Each step along the way is merely another ingredient blended into the soup of entertainment (at the risk of mixing metaphors).