For Father’s Day, I was thinking about two of my favorite movie going experiences I had with my dad: The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) and The Pink Panther (2006). Both movies are comedies and my main memory is just my dad laughing uproariously during each of them.
Since it was 1997, I would have only been seven when we saw The Man Who Knew Too Little in the theater. I remember going with my dad and my dad's friend for sure. And I think my brother Jonathan went with us as well. The important thing is that it was not the full family. It instantly gave us inside jokes that the rest of the family didn't get. When you're the youngest of four that's always really cool. There are a lot of memorable lines we quoted and this scene is one we quoted the most (for those who don't know, Bill Murray's character thinks he's acting in a murder mystery type play but he is caught up in a for real spy plot):
The Pink Panther came out in 2006 so I would have been sixteen. At the time, I was beginning to really get into movies as “art”. I was spending a lot of time online looking up the movies I was “supposed” to watch and developing a lot of strong but ultimately uninformed opinions about film. I remember going to the theater with my dad and brother Jonathan thinking "I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to like this". But once the movie started and we were all sitting there together it didn't matter. All three of us laughed until our stomachs hurt and we had tears in our eyes. For months we would say "hamburger" with a terrible accent because of this scene:
I find it interesting that these are both minor blips in the filmography of two comedy icons. If you ask anyone what their favorite Bill Murray or Steve Martin movie is they would probably not say either of these two movies. But for me, they are up there because of the experience I had with my dad.
These two movies, especially The Pink Panther, taught me an important lesson even though it took a lot of years for me to fully internalize it: Don't Be Stingy With Your Laughter. It doesn't matter what other people find funny, it only matters what you find funny. I see so many people with the attitude of "I dare you to make me laugh" as if they are too cool to laugh. As if being an easy laugh is a bad thing. But here's the thing: there is no "cool" way to laugh. Everyone looks like an idiot, drunk horse when they laugh. So if you're waiting to laugh at only the things that make you look cool and hip, well, you're going to be waiting forever. You may as well embrace your laughter and bring some joy into this world. The world desperately needs it.