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My Early Experience with Directing Skits

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

My mother's infectious laugh.

My mother's infectious laugh.

Make Them Laugh

My sister, Sherry, was the funny one. She could make my father laugh like no one else. How I envied her ability. I wanted to make my father proud, to make him happy, to make him laugh. But I was the shy, reserved one. I didn’t have that outgoing ability. What I didn’t know was that all the most famous comedians were also shy and reserved in real life: Bob Denver, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, etc.

Once when I was just 13, I volunteered to be a counselor at a camp and found out able little funny skits the kids did around the campfire. What a terrific idea! And they were funny. That’s when I purposed to put on some skits for my father.

The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.

— Bennett Cerf

My dad

My dad

Back Home

It is good to have 3 siblings when you want to put on a dramatic presentation and your resources are few. I gathered them and got them to agree to put on a performance for the folks. We rehearsed and were soon ready.

The Important Paper

The Important Paper

The Important Paper

Our first skit was The Important Paper. I sat my baby brother in a tall chair with a paper crown on his head and a red towel around his shoulders.

“Bring me THE IMPORTANT PAPER,” he ordered.

My sister ran out and came back with a document we had affixed a seal and red ribbon at the bottom to look like a land deed.

“Here it is,” she panted, “the important paper!”

“That’s not the important paper,” the king bellowed tossing it to the floor. “Bring me THE IMPORTANT PAPER!”

So I ran out and came back into the room with colored paper for writing letters and an ink pen.

“Here it is,” I bowed, “the important paper!”

“That’s not the important paper,” the king frowned throwing them to the floor. “Bring me THE IMPORTANT PAPER!”

Next my littlest sister ran out and came back in with a roll of toilet paper, the unrolled paper streaming behind her.

“Here it is,” I bowed, “the important paper!”

“Ahhhh,” the king sighed embracing the toilet paper. “At last. THE IMPORTANT PAPER.”

And we all bowed as the king marched out to the restroom.

My dad loved it and applauded.

But we weren’t finished.

My Drama Troupe.  I'm the tallest and the Lovely Daughter.

My Drama Troupe. I'm the tallest and the Lovely Daughter.

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.

— Victor Borge

The Mortgage on The Cow

This skit took the longest to prepare for because we had to be synchronized. It is a sing-song type of skit where the whole cast must bounce up and down by bending at the knee and then straightening up. By the time it is done, it has been quite a workout. At each couple of words, we all bounce together. I hope you can picture it as you read it.

I had to modify this one to work for my family. The original had a Ma and a Pa but I only have 3 siblings so Pa is gone in my version.

Disclaimer: While this was very funny 45 years ago because it was so ludicrous, it may not strike people as funny now with so many killings being commonplace. I apologize in advance.

Enter the mother and lovely daughter played by my sister, age 11, and myself at 13, bouncing.

Mother: Sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. I say sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. (while dabbing at her eyes with a

Handkerchief and bouncing)

Daughter: What’s the matter, Ma? What’s the matter, Ma? I say, what’s the matter, Ma? What’s the matter, Ma?

Mother: We ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the cow. I say, we ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the cow.

Both in unison: Sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. I say sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. (while dabbing at eyes with handkerchief and bouncing)

Enter the bad guy, played by my youngest sister, age 7, with a fake mustache and hat, bouncing.

Bad Guy: I’ve come for the money for the mortgage on the cow. I say, I’ve come for the money for the mortgage on the cow.

Mother and Daughter: But we ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the cow. I say, we ain’t got the money for the mortgage on the cow.

Bad Guy: Then I’ll take your lovely daughter for the mortgage on the cow. I say, I’ll take your lovely daughter for the mortgage on the cow. (Bad guy grabs the lovely daughter and pulls her next to him)

Mother and Daughter: Sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. I say sob, sob, sob-sob-sob. (while dabbing at eyes with handkerchief and bouncing)

Enter the good guy, played by my baby brother who was about 6 years old at the time. He enters dramatically and suddenly, bouncing.

Good Guy: I’ve got the means for the mortgage on the cow. I say, I’ve got the means for the mortgage on the cow.

The good guy pulls his finger out of his pocket and points it at the bad guy and says:

Good Guy: Bang, bang, bang-bang-bang. I say, bang, bang, bang-bang-bang.

Bad Guy looks surprised and grabs his chest.

Bad Guy: Uh, uh, uh-uh-uh. I say, uh, uh, uh-uh-uh. (He falls to the ground twitching)

The End

Thunderous applause and laughter!

My Dad, The Hunter

Improvement

I never found a way to improve on this dramatic presentation. Nothing else I ever did give my dad as big a laugh and me as much pleasure. I danced for him. He wasn’t impressed. I played the piano for him. It put him to sleep. I cooked for him, and he enjoyed that, but cooking is no laughing matter. I don’t know if he was ever proud of me. He never said. He wasn’t the kind of guy who could say the words so I’m not sure. But I know he loved me, and I guess that will have to be enough. I do know my siblings enjoyed being in these little productions and so that is something. We bonded.

We ain't got the money for the mortgage on the cow.  I say...

We ain't got the money for the mortgage on the cow. I say...

A day without laughter is a day wasted.

— Charlie Chaplin

Final Thoughts

Have you ever put on a show for your parents? Did it go as well as you wanted it to? Did making your father laugh mean as much to you as it did to me? I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.