They were second graders. But Mr. Munch didn’t care. And so when Ray grinned - the slightest bent of lips ever seen - Mr. Munch told him to stand up.
“Why?” said Mr. Much, his big eyes straight into the little eyes of the boy. “I’m teaching a serious subject, Ray. Laughing is an insult. But you still laughed. Why?”
“I did not laugh, Mr. Munch,” Ray slightly bowed. “It’s just a grin.”
“I’m not stupid, Ray. Teachers like me, sense things low-level people can’t. Laugh or grin, whatever you call it, my question is the same. Why?”
“Chloe told a joke, Mr. Much. She said birthy fart-ty.” He followed it with another grin.
“So you find it funny?”
“Yes, Mr. Munch.”
“No, it’s not. Did you see me laugh? Did you see me grin? Now sit down. I won’t discuss Independence Day anymore. Let’s talk about how to tell joke. And I mean, a funny joke.”
The little children sat straight, head forward.
“Telling a joke needs great precision. These are the four tested ingredients: timing, realism, exaggeration and surprise. If any of these is missing, a joke, no matter how brilliant, won’t be funny.
Here’s an example. The interviewer said ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Without having much thought the applicant replied, ‘Tell me yours first.’”
After the class, the children ran into the playground. Ray shared to his classmates: “His joke wasn’t funny, but he sure looked funny.”