How to be funny, and how not to be

Famous comedian Roy Wood Jr. offers tips

Teach your kids about the nuances of humor

Being funny comes naturally to some kids. You’ve seen the little comedians on the playground, or at gatherings, making faces, doing odd voices and crazy dances, cracking up other children (and adults). If your child happens to be one of those jokers, famous comedian Roy Brown Jr. – seen regularly on The Daily Show – has some words of advice via Fatherly’s “Letters to Boys” project. In this ongoing feature, the site offers guidance in the form of heartfelt advice “given generously by great men who show us how to take that crucial first step in confronting seemingly unsolvable issues – by offering honest words.” Roy Wood Jr.’s contribution is refreshingly candid and… funny.

His opening gambit in his letter to his three-year-old son recalls the great Oscar Wilde quote, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” In other words, Wood tells of initially using humor in the third grade to protect himself from bullies. “I figured that if I could make the bullies laugh, we could connect, I could keep them close,” he writes. “It worked, and jokes became my survival strategy.”

Interestingly, when Wood’s family moved him to an all-black middle school (Wood is African-American), he learned to wield his power in a different way. 

“I discovered something new about comedy,” he writes. “I could use it to hurt people. I changed. I threw out my power to connect and became the bully.”

He and his friends started making fun of a learning-disabled class, teasing and taunting. Caught by the principal (he says he’ll never forget Principal Gladys McGee), they were made to join the learning disabled class for two weeks. He writes: “We went to PE with the class. We studied with them. We ate lunch with them. And we got it. We understood the meanness of what we’d done. That’s the last time I weaponized humor against the disadvantaged.”

Wood’s letter is a reminder to parents of funny kids that they should make sure their child doesn’t use a talent to make others laugh as a means of disconnecting from certain people. It’s never too early to teach a child to be responsible and kind. 

More Homeschooling

  • Indoor spots for teens to play

    Older kids need to have some play time too

    Teens need places to go that aren't lame and won't bore them to tears. We have the best in the Valley listed just for you. read more »
  • Everything you need to know about student loans

    Traditional ways of paying for college aren't working

    More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings i falling. read more »
  • 3 ways people of all ages can make the most of International Youth Day

    Celebrate youth activists and combat ageism

    August 12 is International Youth Day, a United Nations effort to celebrate youth activists, combat ageism and help bridge gaps between generations working toward the same change. read more »
  • 4 ways to get involved this global volunteer month

    It's a good time to get in on the action

    Global Volunteer Month, celebrated throughout April, is a time to recognize people who actively support their communities through volunteerism and active civic engagement. It’s also a time to get in on the action. However, if you’re like many people, you may not know where to begin. read more »
  • Minimize the risk of child identity theft

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection offers advice

    Child Identity Theft is a growing problem. According to recent data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft for those under 19 years old grew 60% in three years. read more »
  • 5 reasons why your child should (and can) learn how to play chess

    A revolutionary new game that helps kids learn this game of strategy

    Chess is one of the oldest and most popular games in history, with early forms of the game dating back to the 6th century CE. The game has certainly seen a revival since the pandemic began, as people around the globe have dusted off their chess boards and even binged one of the most-watched series ever inspired by the masterful game for much-needed entertainment. read more »
  • Visit cool sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley

    These sculptures are generally huge and sure to please

    Visit fun and educational sculpture gardens in the Hudson Valley. Sculpture Parks and their gardens are a unique way for families to appreciate and enjoy art. The open spaces are wonderful for kids of all ages. Most locations offer space to roam and enable us to enjoy these unique pieces at our own pace. read more »
  • 5 ways to get kids excited about STEM learning

    The country needs more good scientists

    The events of the past couple of years have shown how important scientists are to making the world a better and safer place. read more »
  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 fun, easy ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »
  • 6 tips to mitigate mental health risks for youth

    The surgeon general highlight the urgent need to address Youth Mental Health Crisis

    Today’s kids are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety at home, school and in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic, which affected kids in all those places, only exacerbated the problem. read more »