Class clowns milk situations for laughs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Each member of a class has a job description.

First-graders to high school seniors have a role to play, a stereotype to fill, a person to be. I suspect every classroom has the same players, just with different names and different quirks. And without each person, the class identity wouldn&8217;t exist.

You can always find the nerd, the smart aleck, the know-it-all, the goody two-shoes, the troublemakers, and of course the class clown.

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But in Mrs. Tuccio&8217;s class the seat occupied by class clown is something like a game of musical chairs &8212; that seat is up for grabs and constantly changes hands.

Some constants remain the same &8212; you can usually count on Kelvin or Walter for a clown-like move. For the others, clown status comes in the moment.

Monday, Destini stepped up to the plate.

I arrived moments too late for a boys versus girls duel at a game in reading class &8212; the girls won (as usual). Ms. Bell started reviewing a study guide for an upcoming test on a short story. The story was about a boy who went fishing for salmon with his grandfather. At first he was excited to fish, then he quickly got bored because they went every day.

One of the last questions on the study guide used the sentence &8220;The smoked red salmon hangs out in the sun to cure.&8221;

Cue Destini.

&8220;But Ms. Bell, how can it cure? It&8217;s not sick.&8221;

(Not that funny, I know, but she&8217;s a fourth-grader.)

Giggles around the room followed. Ms. Bell shook her head and made a comment that she was glad I was there to hear such nonsense.

Even though most adults would just roll their eyes, Destini had done well enough to wear the clown crown for the moment. She got laughs.

And, honestly, I prefer her methods over others. She took the route of using wit &8212; always a sign of intelligence.

Two other rotating class clowns chose less admirable laugh-getting moments Monday. In the style of John Ritter&8217;s &8220;Three&8217;s Company&8221; character Jack, they opted for physical comedy.

Thomas fidgets.

Always does. I&8217;ve never seen him sit flat in his chair. Usually he&8217;s sitting on his feet or spread across two chairs. He frequently leans back or rocks his chair, and about once every hour or so the chair goes flying.

Now, this isn&8217;t planned comedy. I don&8217;t think he likes to fall. Falling is embarrassing. But good class clowns can capitalize on the moment.

Metal chair legs make noise when they hit the floor; it&8217;s a good sounding crash. It&8217;s the seconds of silence after the crash that make or break the comedy.

Thomas usually goes with an angry sounding comment that ensures no one will rag him later, but gets a few giggles.

Monday, Deante followed Thomas&8217; lead.

&8220;What, I didn&8217;t fall, the chair did,&8221; Deante said after he went flying. It gained a few giggles.

A potentially risky, but laugh-guaranteeing method is to pick at your teacher&8217;s personal life. Ms. Bell falls victim to this quite often.

No one is of Jack Tripper&8217;s or Three Stooges&8217; quality in this group of kids, but they are holding up their end of the job of class clown. Besides, everyone gets better at their job with time.

Julie Finley is the managing editor for The Natchez Democrat. She writes a weekly column based on experiences with Marty Tuccio&8217;s homeroom class at McLaurin Elementary. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or