Dante loves to make us laugh. He’s constantly trying to figure out new ways to amuse us. Sometimes, his jokes are clever. Sometimes, not so much. We laugh anyway, politely.
Lately, he’s been trying out the catchphrase comedy thing. Except, he’s missing a crucial element: the jokes. He just throws the catchphrases in, often as a distorted echo of something we’ve said:
ME: Will you grab a water bottle?
DANTE: Waka waka water bottle!
Yeah, “waka waka” is a big catchphrase right now. “Boing!” is another.
ME: How did you like the puppet show?
DANTE: How I liked the puppet show was I thought it was… boing!
At first, the sheer randomness of these would make us genuinely laugh. But he does them a lot. (He has dabbled in this before, but this time he does it less for himself and more for us, trying to get a reaction.) Even after many repetitions, the randomness would amuse me a little, but it wore on Laura after a while. Still, we tried to at least smile, since we knew he was trying.
Then he tested it out at school. Rather predictably, he got negative feedback from the other kids. He reported back to us that he’d said “waka waka!” to some little girl, and she had replied: “Not funny.” He also reported that his teacher had told him “waka waka” was making her head hurt.
Uh-oh. Did we do this kid a disservice by being too patient of an audience? We explained, as gently as we could, that just saying nonsense words really isn’t all that funny to begin with, and that it becomes less and less funny the more you do it. He overreacted, in typical Dante fashion, saying “Okay, I will never ever say waka waka again.” As usual, we tried to pull him out of binary thinking and into something a little more flexible. I suggested that he just turn down the dial, and give it more rest.
So now we have a blessed break from “waka waka.” A few hours later, he said, “Hey, here’s one I haven’t said in a while: Abuuuuuuuk!”
And you know what? It really made us laugh.