“Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

According to a scrap of paper in my file drawer, the title quote is attributed to Carol Burnett.  The Carol Burnett Show was a dorm room entertainment staple for a while in college, and it never failed to cheer me up.  Tim Conway‘s comedic genius and Harvey Korman stifling laughter are timeless good fun.  Carol as Scarlett O’Hara decked out in curtain rod shoulder pads and green drapes is a scene I still remember with a chuckle.    

There’s something liberating about giggling over the stuff that once made me shudder. 

Like the time I had my sister give me a “body perm” to give some life to my stubbornly straight hair.  It looked like fuzzy duck down.  My friend (who will remain nameless so as not to involve her in my embarrassment) came over, took one look at my hair as I opened the front door, and laughed so hard she wet her pants on the porch.  Most unfortunate.  Thankfully, perms grow out.

Like the time we planned a January sledding party for our young son and a dozen or so of his friends.  The sledding hills were generously covered with fluffy snow…until it all melted two days before the party.  With no time to arrange a “plan B” we painted sweatshirts in the basement.  Disastrous.  And now solidly in the category of “no big deal.”

Like the time I was performing on the football field as a member of the first flag team in our high school. My friends convinced me to try out.  I made the squad and they didn’t.  I wanted to quit, but that’s another story.  My flag got all bunched up on the top of my pole and I was forced to wave my essentially flagless pole while trying unsuccessfully to un-bunch the dumb thing.  Embarrassing.  No one remembers, I’m sure, except me…and certain members of my family who take great delight in imitating my performance just to make sure I don’t forget.

Like the Chicago Cubs.  (I can say that because I’m a Cubs fan.  Hope does, in fact, spring eternal.)

Without minimizing genuine tragedy, for some tragedies are never comical – ever, let’s pretend we’re back in high school or college cringing over our temporarily tragic embarrassments.  Bad dates?  Bad hair?  (I’ve had plenty of both.)  Bad shoulder pads?  Anyone want to share some laughs over the stuff we used to cry about?  I’ll bet you have some very funny stories. 

Let’s hear them!  Please only share your own embarrassing moments, for we don’t want to create another cringe moment for someone else. 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

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6 Responses to “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

  1. Peggy Nolte says:

    I enjoy this blog, Emma. I love your personal voice and the way your memories seem to come alive as I read them. Ofcourse your humor and hilarious stories help a lot. You’ve got some great material. 🙂 I still see the fuzzy duck down, the sweatshirt painting, and your performance with the bunched up flagpole. Thank God we can laugh at these stories now. huh?

  2. Peggy Nolte says:

    I call this story the TWO SILLIES.

    Long ago, my dear old Dad phoned Sears because he needed a fix-it man to come stop our microwave’s constant beeping! The fix-it man came over and worked and worked with no success! No matter what he did, the out-of-control microwave just continued to obnoxiously beep! Finally, the frustrated man loaded the microwave onto his truck and began pulling away. Meanwhile, dear old Dad reentered the house to shockingly find the “absent microwave” STILL BEEPING! Hastily, he rushed outside yelling , “SIR, SIR.! THE MICROWAVE! IT’S STILL BEEPING!” That poor old puzzled handyman disbelievingly came back into our house to hear the beeping for himself! After some hard headscratching and brainstorming, the two of them discovered the smoke detector needed new batteries.

    I guess even doctors make mistakes.

  3. Lu Bettisch says:

    This happens not so long ago but thankfully I can laugh about it. I was doing a funeral for a man who had committed suicide. Since the service was held at the funeral home, I wasn’t wearing an alb, just a nice skirt, my clerical blouse and a suit jacket. I was a bit nervous so I stopped in the restroom to freshen up. Then I walked out to the large room full of people who were milling about, looking for seats, etc. I walked up to the front of the room near the casket to look at some pictures of the deceased. While standing with my back to the room a woman came up and tapped me on the shoulder. She said “Excuse me pastor. Your skirt is tucked into your underwear.” Sigh.

  4. Karen Koval says:

    Thanks Emma for a rib hurting, tear producing laugh this morning. Love you!

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