National Let’s Laugh Day is a reminder that we all need humor in our lives. It’s boring being serious all the time, and it’s wonderful to laugh as much as we can to release our tension. Even situations that are serious or overwhelming need humor too. These three circumstances involving food emphasize that fact.
My dad, who is a skilled cook, was a famous chef who owned a fancy New York restaurant called Chanterelle. He was a very serious, hard worker, but he also had a keen sense of humor.
A goosefish, also known as a lotte, anglerfish or monkfish, is a bizarre and edible fish with a big mouth, sharp teeth, a lure used to attract prey, and large front fins that help it crawl along the seabed. Once, my dad pranked his employees by putting a goosefish’s head in their toilet. Many of the workers opened the lid and screamed with fright. A bunch of fellow employees laughed at the sight. This prank shocked me in a good way, and I would be surprised if someone put a goosefish in my toilet.
There was also a time when my family and I were having dinner up in Woodstock. My mom forgot to label cans of salad dressing and pancake batter that looked similar to each other. She poured the batter onto some salad by mistake. I took a bite and spit it out but burst into laughter.
Another funny situation involving food was the time when my friend Justin and I were out in Washington Square Park shooting a short film. It was about a poor boy on the streets who seizes the opportunity to open a hot dog stand to get money. As we completed shooting, we did a scene in the end where the boy gives a customer a hot dog (which was taken out of the trash by mistake since we were reshooting it). Justin took a bite and, of course, spit it out.
These experiences remind me how people like my mom and dad can send others laughing, intentionally and unexpectedly. They also emphasize how food can play a part in delivering humor. If there were any times I would like to share to bring out a good laugh, it would have to be these, as humor is something we all could use.
In addition to situations in real life, there are some moments in fiction involving food that send me laughing too. A few examples are the Mad Hatter nearly putting mustard in the White Rabbit’s pocket watch in Alice in Wonderland, young Latika putting ground-up chilies on Salim’s privates in Slumdog Millionaire, and two scenes in SpongeBob SquarePants. The first is in “Pizza Delivery,” where our hero sings a hilarious jingle on a journey to deliver pizza; the second is in “Chocolate with Nuts,” where a crazy fish chases SpongeBob and Patrick, shrieking for chocolate.
Which food moments or experiences make you laugh the most?
Jacob Waltuck has enjoyed working in the Arts + Culture and Marketing Departments at the 14th Street Y. He also enjoys acting, visual art, and theater, and is involved in employment support programs through JobPath.