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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: When life sucks, be silly

Kelsey Weekman

Online managing editor Kelsey Weekman

At dinner, my family plays this game where we try to make each other laugh so hard we shoot whatever we are drinking out of our noses.

It is called, appropriately, “The Dinner Game.”

The point of the Dinner Game is to take whatever happened during our days — be it good or bad — and spin it to make it lighthearted and silly. And to mercilessly annihilate your opponents.

It’s taught me a lot of important lessons. First, time your jokes for when your brother is sipping his Capri Sun. Second, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

The best way to deal with stuff is to let it roll off, grab it from the ground, tie it up in a silly bow and kick it back at the world. Then do the stuff.

When I have to deal with something bad that happens to me, I play a mini Dinner Game with myself. Dozens of rounds on a daily basis.

Being funny is not about being soft or laughing about serious issues. Stand firm in your convictions, but keep a gentle and light heart. When you’re smiling a lot, people can forget you have feelings, too. But just because you make jokes doesn’t mean you are one.

Everyone loves a jester, but sad clowns are always portrayed as the villains of horror movies — lurking in shadows, spooking children and popping balloons unnecessarily. Break that stigma. There’s nothing wrong with poking your head out from a fog of laughter and buffoonery to say, “Hey, I’m hurting.”

Fire back at the stigma that silly people don’t have feelings by treating people with kindness and understanding in the first place. It’s OK to help people make jokes about their situation, but never further someone’s pain.

Kicking someone while they’re down is the low fruit, and finding ways to make jokes without being hurtful requires a lot of thought.

That’s why it’s completely bonkers to me that being funny is so often confused with being dumb.

Making jokes can actually be pretty hard. It’s not just saying “butts” when a silence falls over a room, although that is hilarious.

You have to see a situation, analyze it and project it in its best light. Every joke is like a tiny public relations campaign for a topic.

Some of the funniest people in the world are ridiculously smart, like Ivy League-educated certified treasures Conan O’Brien and Mindy Kaling.

If you feel like you just aren’t funny, embrace that too. You don’t have to make a joke. You can just laugh. Just google what stupid thing Jimmy Fallon made some old celebrity do this week. Works like a charm.

And for you funny kids, take a breath next time you find yourself crushed under the weight of mishaps or embarrassment. Exhale a joke.

Do what I do — relax, laugh at yourself and know that all of your stress will be worth it when you’re getting slimed at the Kids’ Choice Awards.

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