Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, July, 2011

posted Jul 3, 2011, 12:17 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jul 3, 2011, 12:19 PM ]

Laughing at Our Foibles


Comedian Jimmy Durante was known for his prominent nose and often referred to it in his comedy sketches. Of course, with a conspicuous smeller like his it was pretty hard not to notice. But rather than try to pretend or cover up his striking schnozzle, Durante made the most of his predicament. In the mid-30’s Durante had a major record hit with his own novelty composition, Inka Dinka Do, which became his theme song for the rest of his career. Once in a moment of seriousness, he confided, "It dawned on me that as long as I could laugh, I was safe from the world; and I have learned that laughter keeps me safe from myself, too.” 

Actually, all of us have certain “schnozzles” that are ridiculous in one way or another; if not on our faces, then in our habits, inclinations, or characters.    When instead of hiding or defending them, we are willing to admit to our own schnozzles, then we too begin to laugh and in turn the world laughs with us.

The story is told of a soldier who was sentenced to be flogged. Nonetheless, he was chuckling as they led him away as if something hilarious were about to happen, and throughout the entire whipping he laughed uproariously.

When the painful punishment finally ended, the officer in charge demanded, "OK, Pal, what's so funny about a flogging? I surely don't think it's a joke."

"Why, the joke's on you," smiled the soldier. "You whipped the wrong man!"

A flogging is hardly anything to laugh about, but most of us could profit by taking ourselves a little less seriously. Like, e.g., the Amish gentleman driving his horse-drawn carriage down the main road between Lancaster and Intercourse. The Amish, as we know, live and dress simply and avoid most modern technology. Certainly, this Amish man was well aware that he cut an odd figure driving on such a busy modern thorough-fare. But he definitely had a sense of humor. Affixed to the back of his carriage was a hand lettered sign that read, "Energy efficient vehicle. Runs on oats and grass. CAUTION: Do not step on exhaust."

This Amish man may have taken his beliefs seriously, and may have taken his business seriously. But he didn't take himself too seriously. That’s the key issue.

We may not always have the courage to admit our schnozzles to the world; or to laugh at our personal hang ups and short-comings. Most of us become rather expert at hiding them. And most assuredly, for those actually willing to laugh at their foibles, there is plenty of good material at hand. Furthermore, it’s pretty certain that whenever we get a better handle on not taking ourselves too seriously, we will find ourselves richly rewarded with a happier and healthier life.


  George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries