Television and radio presenter Art Linkletter was an orphan who was moved from Canada as a child to live in San Diego, California. He was married for 74 1/2 years. He was a major investor in the patented hula-hoop, without whom it may never have existed. During the Great Depression, he hitched on trains around the country, doing odd jobs. His personality and teethy television presence proved lucrative in the 1940´s, and his early show People Are Funny can arguably be said to be the prototype for today´s American entertainment show which relies almost solely on audience participation and gags. Kids Say the Darnedest Things, an ending bit on his 1950´s program House Party (a great title for a show), featured his interviewing children, using his experience as a TV personality to set up kids to utter anecdotal bits that were comedy gems to adults. The interviews were gimmicky and surely did not justify more than a recurring bit, like Letterman´s ¨10 Things…¨, and at times, what is happening feels like that unfairness of making fun of a foreigner speaking broken English. Still, children are funniest when they say something that they feel is important, yet inappropriate or ironic. I just hope their creative abandon isn´t at all quelled by our laughing in their faces. Personally speaking from a teacher´s point of view, I try to laugh at them in the same way an audience laughs at a comedian; hopefully in a sort of empowering way, however superficial. In the interest of clarity, it should be said that I never interview kids in the hopes of getting something silly out of their mouths. It is tempting, I must say. Most of the quotes that I have written down result from questions in the cheerless speaking parts of quarterly exams.
The comedy of Art Linkletter´s kids proves how easy it is to come by. Just introduce a universal theme of some sort, and let them talk. Teacher´s anywhere can attest to kids´ accidental humor, yet they rarely seem to collect or recall them, or perhaps they are simply above writing them down for the benefit of a joke. I am not above it.
Me: “If an alien came to earth, what do you think he would do first?”
Student: “Well, it depends on the alien, but he probably first get rid of all the ugly people, then go see a movie.”
Student (adult): “I eat very little fat from cows because it’s bad for the protestant gland, and I don’t need those kinds of problems.”
Me: “Even if you’re not Catholic, you might be a bit of a hypochondriac.”
“Well, I think in America there are a few hard questions and a lot of easy answers.”
¨Have you ever been eaten by a shark?¨
¨Teacher, why don´t you have any babies?¨
Me: “Why does Spain have a low natural growth rate?”
6th grader: “I guess they don’t do the amor so much.”
Me: “What’s the opposite of messy?
Me: “Repeat after me–helicopter.”
“No, it’s helicopter.”
“Teacher, I think I need a psychologist.”
A 11-year-old´s poignant rendering of me on Mondays. And Wednesdays, or Fridays and Tuesdays.
“Victoria do you like Pablo?”
“Well, why did you give him a kiss?”
“Oh, I was just practicing for another boy that I like.”
Student: “Are you the protagonista in that show Glee?”
“Teacher I feel like a sloth today that needs to be released to the jungle.”
“Do you feel lazy?”
“No, not really. I just wanted to use the word sloth.”
Student: “Profe, tienes ojos tan bonitos. El mismo color que los ciegos.”
Feeling good about yourself? Have a kid draw a picture of you.
Student: “What’s inside your throat?” (Pointing at my Adam’s apple)
Me: “I got a chicken leg stuck in there.”
Student: “Well, I guess you should be a vegenarian.”
Child: Do you have a wife?
Child: Why don’t you buy one?
Me: Good question.
Child: I know.