The professional Santa Claus has one job: to spread cheer. He does it in many ways: handing out candy, waving from firetrucks, singing loud for all to hear, helping kids to dream, and sanctioning unchecked expectations of a Christmas morning in which all wishes wished are to come to fruition…
Another great way to spread cheer is by making people laugh.
Laughter may be one of the most abrupt displays of emotion that exists. And, more than naught, continued laughter is a catalyst for happiness, joy, and cheer. The medical benefits of laughter are well-documented, and laughter in the face of trial or opposition almost always yields positive results. When faced with a determined, crying, child, desperately clinging to their parent, sometimes the only thing a Santa can do is to laugh (understanding that one day, that same child will laugh, themselves, at the situation).
So Santa just needs to follow the advice of the incomparable Donald O’Connor:
(if you get the chance to watch this, do it!)
Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh,
Don’t you know ev’ry one wants to laugh?
My dad said, “Be an actor my son,
But be a comical one!”
They’ll be standing in lines
For those old honky tonk monkey shines
Oh, you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite,
And you could charm the critics and have nothing to eat,
Just slip on a a banana peel, the world’s at your feet
Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh!
Now there will be the purist naysayers who claim that we shouldn’t laugh at Santa Claus. We ought to revere Father Christmas. He is the Yuletide Patriarch, the Guardian of Childhood Innocence, and the Keeper of Christmas Spirit. He is symbolized diety, and the season to which he is inexoribly attached means that his importance resonates with almost a third of the world. (His pagan roots make him justifiable to the rest) So we can’t laugh at Santa! Can we?
The author of the canonical Kringle poem, “A Visit from St Nicholas” (also known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) Clement Clarke Moore penned the following line: “and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.” Now, Mr Moore was either worried about waking his sugar-plum-drunk kids, or he recognized the fact that laughing at Santa was probably inappropriate. But for those who have come to know him through years of portraying him, and seeing him reflected in the eyes of the children, it is understood that laughing at Santa is not only acceptable, but desired! Just listen to what Moore explains happened immediately following his unstifled chuckle: “A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread…” Can you think of a better validation?
So how does Santa make someone laugh?
You’re not going to see many Santas doing stand up comedy, and when you do, it’s not suitable for all ages. He probably shouldn’t just sit around with kids on his lap telling jokes either. And tickling is definitely off the table.
Turning back to Moore’s poem, we read what made him laugh in the first place:
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him…
Laughed when he saw him. Not when he said something funny. But at what he saw when he saw him. In that entire description there is not much of handsome. His charisma seems to come from his lack of beauty. And it is that appearance, coupled with the few actions he takes, which elicit the laughter of the poet.
My favorite response when someone tells me I’m funny is “Well, looks aren’t everything!” But maybe when it comes to Santa Claus looks are many things! While it is comforting to know that I don’t need to be George Clooney to be a good Santa, my appearance is critical. As is how I carry myself, and what I do.
Many professional Santas were formerly professional clowns. The type of comedy clowns have perfected is physical comedy. They are experts at making people laugh without saying a word! They know how to “make ’em laugh”.
I am pleased to share the following video. This was at a Christmas in July Birthday Party this year. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t graceful, but it sure is funny! And the laughter from those girls was the sweetest sound ever.
Beside my senior picture in my high school yearbook, I was quoted as saying, “My goal is to make at least one person laugh every day, even if at my expense.”
It’s taken awhile, but I think I’m close to achieving it…