It was such a landmark moment when we put our youngest child on the bus, sending him to kindergarten, for the first time. Mom was crying. Dad was doing a celebratory dance. ON the other end, the kindergarten teacher was weeping, soul searching, doubting every career move leading to this day.
My kids were confused about what kindergarten even is. I think this is because of its very name. Kindergarten is German, literally meaning “children’s garden”, which doesn’t even seem to metaphorically be correct. We don’t grow children there. It’s not a mythological cabbage patch. We should call it “Grade 0”, which is sort of accurate. It lowers expectations and it sort of tells you how much you will learn in a year.
When I was in kindergarten, I would get bored, so I would just leave. I’d simply walk out. I mean, if the teacher wasn’t going to show me even the basics of potting soil and fertilizer, why should I stay and listen to this fraud?
So, teacher would chase me down and bring me back into the herd.
Then I’d try to spice up the party a little: tell some jokes, start a Twister game, order pizza… she got upset when I called the fire department.
Sometimes, she would send notes home, which would only confuse my mom:
“Little Daren needs to stop using the school phone. And he needs to stop rhyming with everything I say.”
Apparently, whenever she would say something like, “Okay, children, get out your markers”, I would exclaim, “Cats are meowers and dogs are barkers!” (Which I suppose was cute for about six weeks, and then the facial ticks started to manifest themselves on the poor woman).
So, when I sent my youngest off to kindergarten, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would be a better student than I was. At the end of his first day, I asked him how it went…
“How was your first day of kindergarten, son?”
“Did you make any new friends?”
“Oh… well, what are your friends’ names?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s your teacher’s name?”
“I don’t know.”
Then I thought, “He doesn’t remember anything. What went on today?”
That’s when I finally asked, “What’s your principal’s name?
“Oh… his name is Mr. Charles Strickman. He’s got a bad temper. Nice office, though. He’s got pictures of seagulls on the walls. I counted 113 seagulls, all total!”
Chip off the ol’ block!
Next, my buddy Andy Beningo calls into the show. He and his wife welcomed a new baby into the world recently, and Andy learned right away what the world’s greatest invention of all time is: The Pacifier.
After just a few uses, Andy began to wish someone would come out with an adult-sized pacifier. Picture it – you’re at work and someone is telling you an incredibly boring story… all you have to do is pop one of those bad boys in their mouth and you have instant serenity.
Some of the first people Andy would use something like that on are his grandparents. They’ve been married 65 years now, and they have reached the point in their marriage where they never fight nor argue anymore. They just look at each other and go, “Dhaaaah!!”
His grandmother is very religious and she sees signs from God everywhere. For instance, the family went to the beach recently and she told him, “Andy, I know that God exists, because everywhere I go, I’m being followed by doves.”
“First of all, Grandma, those are seagulls. They’re flying rats. They’re not following you, they’re following your picnic basket. Now, put this pacifier in your mouth.”
Andy’s grandpa is one of those guys who are always talking your ear off, but he is also becoming very forgetful lately. He came downstairs recently and suddenly stopped. “I came down here to do something, but I can’t remember what it is I needed to do.”
“Well, Grandpa, for starters, I think you forgot to put on some pants!”
Finally, funnyman and all-round great guy, Jeff Allen joins the show. He and I recently performed together at Hilarities in Cleveland. This is a special club for Jeff, because that’s where he met his wife thirty years ago… and they were kind enough to drop the charges and allow the two of them to come back.
Jeff was instantly drawn to Tami’s laugh… and over the past thirty years walking alongside Jeff through life, that laugh of hers has only dissipated. But, it was a beautiful laugh thirty years ago.
Now, Jeff and I both perform “clean comedy”, and many people wonder if working clean and comedy clubs can coexist. However, seeing that Jeff has been asked to come back to Hilarities – one of the top ten comedy clubs in the nation – three times in the last year, it’s safe to say that there is a real desire by audiences to hear great jokes without all the swearing and “blue” content.
And, according to Jeff, the secular (non-religious) world is pretty easy to figure out. It’s driven by money and very little else. If something makes money (like booking two clean comics for a night), then they’re all for it! They don’t have any ideological problems with a couple of Christians coming in and telling jokes, so long as the audiences show up and leave entertained.
And a real plus that Jeff and I have learned, is that by working clean and not swearing, we have noticed an inter-generational fan base rising up! Young adults are recommending us to their parents who are becoming fans!
Now, as for Jeff, he is getting sick and tired of what is now labeled as “progress”. He is constantly fascinated when he hears someone say something like, “Humanity always progresses.”
But, what are we “progressing” toward?
It’s nice to have your car going in a forward direction when you embark on a trip, but you want to have a particular direction in mind. Instead, many in our “American Progressive Culture” seem to be wandering around aimlessly. Jeff recognizes that this can appear fun, but it can also become tiring and even dangerous at times.
Jeff just misses the America he grew up in.
Take, for instance, Common Core Math.
Ten years from now, Little Joey will get a job at McDonald’s. That’ll be the day when Jeff buys a Big Mac and gives Joey four extra pennies in order to round the total up to the nearest dollar. But, Jeff doesn’t want to have to stand there and watch apoplectic convulsions go on from behind the register while Joey learns to cipher the math of this exchange. At some point, Joey will need to call out and ask if there’s a homeschool kid in the restaurant who can help him out with the equation.