My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

I’ve only had an Instagram account for about 6 months now, but I can’t help but notice an ongoing theme: My son’s sense of humor is beyond his years… and mine. The thing is, I’m not convinced he’s trying to be funny. And that’s what makes it so great.

After one of on my most recent Instagram posts, I had one of his my son’s fan’s suggest I do a sort of “best of” compilation. I decided to go for it.

By scrolling below, you will be able to see my top 20 my most favorite Instagram posts featuring my son’s most confusing/bizarre/genius/awesome quotes, ideas, and artwork; spanning from November 2015 through April 2016.

I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to keep a straight face. Feel free to share with me which of these is your favorite and tell me why.

And if you’re not already following me on Instagram, there’s a good chance that this blog post today will convince you to do so: @nickshellwrites

#1 “The wolf is peeing in a bag and there is a suction cup on the bag that connects to the bottom.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#2 “She has the chain so she can fly… and so she can’t get away.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#3 According to Jack’s drawing today at school, dragons really did breathe fire. Looks like there was more than one way to breathe it out.”

1My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#4 “The whale had gas and then the fish swam by and got stuck in the stink, then it all went back up the whale’s butt.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#5 “He eats the spaghetti and meatballs and then he potties them right into the toilet.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#6 “It’s a mommy baby and a baby baby and they are just wearing diapers.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#7 “The machines are taking the needles out of the seal ghost.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#8 Jack explained that we were reading his love letter to Mommy upside-down. I guess that’s better than what we thought?

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#9 Jack secretly drew a picture today at school of a dog doubly relieving himself in the yard next to an ant hill.

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#10 Jack took it upon himself to do a sequel to yesterday’s innovative piece… this time with a cat doubly relieving himself. He specifically told me he drew it for Mommy.

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#11 “Look, Pandy is in the Air Force now. She has swords.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#12 “The truck isn’t hauling Easter eggs… they’re poop balls.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#13 “The bad tree is spraying the monster so the monster is shooting him with a lightning bolt.”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#14 He made the 10 Commandments out of cookies and icing at church this morning…but he’s already eaten 5 of them.

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#15 “The lightning hit the building and then the sneaky mischievous fire said, “Hey, what are we going to do today?”

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#16 Not sure why I came home to a trail of 5 hand-crafted paper bag cat puppets leading from the front door to the kitchen. My son has yet to explain.

#17 He was the only kid in his Sunday School class to decorate his cross with a two-headed dragon.

My Son’s Top 20 Accidentally Hilarious Instagram Antics: @nickshellwrites

#18 “Hey Daddy, someday can we go to Indiana? I heard you can get the Mr. Happy book there.”

#19 Jack insisted I take a picture of him as a “slime pirate”. So here it is.

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#20 I thought something felt weird all day in my shoe. My 5 year-old son quickly, and proudly, confessed.

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Now, which was your favorite and why? And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram: @nickshellwrites

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You get to help me with a small part for my upcoming “dad from day one” entry…

Give me an example of a popular and current father/husband on TV who is respected and loved by his family and is NOT known for constantly making comical messes- especially when it comes to goofing up home repairs or misbehaving in social outings.  *Bonus points if the guy is not shlubby and overweight yet married to a thin wife who is smart-witted, as to humorously contrast the father/husband’s character.

Examples of who I AM NOT looking for:

Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin of “Family Guy”, Kevin James of “King of Queens”, and Jim Belushi of “According to Jim”.

Remember, I’m looking for a current example, so Ward Cleaver from “Leave It to Beaver” or Mike Brady of “The Brady Bunch” would be disqualified.  I will define “current” as “since 2004”, which is the year Friends went off the air and Lost began.

Also, he has to be a popular character on a decently cool and relevant show.  No ABC Family or Hallmark stuff.

He must be intelligent as well as faithful to his family, but he can’t be nerdy either.  So Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” won’t work.  Also, he can’t be a widow who is overcoming his wife’s death.  He has to be currently married to his wife on the show, giving an ongoing example of what a good husband and father is.

And… he can’t be killed off the show or marginalized in any way.  He has to be a solid, consistent character.

He is not perfect; he does make mistakes.  Therefore he is a real man and human being; he is not an alien or a robot.

The winning example will be published in the upcoming “dad from day one” post (possibly as part of the title itself) for thousands to see.

Answer the question: “Who is the modern Ward Cleaver?”

Impress me, friends.  Because in all my creativity the only example I can come up with is Adam Braverman on the series Parenthood.

***

Since writing this, I finished the post.  You can read it by clicking the title below:

dad from day one: The Return of the Classic American Father (Being the Modern Day Ward Cleaver)

Why Nick Shell is a Big Fan of Boost Mobile’s “Is That the Talking Dog?” Commercial (Because It’s a Lot Like “Portlandia” with Fred Armisen)

Weird people who are subtle and seemingly familiar are wonderfully entertaining.

There must be a certain off-beat frequency that both old people and residents of Portland, Oregon are evidently tuned in to.  It apparently causes them to bring up the most bizarre and irrelevant conversation topics.  I believe that specific strangeness is characterized in Boost Mobile’s “Unwronged Pet Carrier” commercial which is simply recognized by most of us as “that weird cell phone commercial with the Dave Grohl wannabe pulling the luggage cart and the sort of half-Venezuelan looking guy that says, ‘Is that the talking dog?'”

I am constantly subconsciously trying to figure out: What talking dog? The guy uses the word “the” instead of “a” as the article referring to the dog.  It’s not just any dog; it’s one particular famous talking dog.  So what famous talking dog is he referring to that I somehow missed on my facebook feed?

Some could say that this mysterious reference to a talking dog would be a cause for me to be annoyed by the commercial.  But no; I recognize this as a clever marketing technique which I feel is a successful effort to relate to people who appreciate subculture-acknowledging commercials.  For people who include Garden State in their top ten list of movies and The Office in their top ten list of TV shows.  And who blocked Farmville within the first two weeks of its existence.

For those of us who appreciate the talking dog commercial (which coincidentally are the same kind of people who found this post and are currently reading it now) I think it’s safe to say that most of us could easily picture one of our grandma’s actually saying “Is that the talking dog?” during dinner.  The talking dog commercial is subtle yet memorable.  Granted, I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for 10 years now and have no intentions on ever switching, but I definitely want to publicly thank the cool people at the whatever marketing agency who gave us the talking dog gem of a commercial.

What is “Portlandia”?  Now’s your chance to find out…

Humor with Laugh Tracks Vs. Subtle Comedy: Why Jokes Don’t Make Me Laugh

What makes a person funny?

Recently at the place I used to work, they hired a motivational speaker.  His whole two hour bit was infused with “jokes”.  I guess a few people noticed that I wasn’t laughing at every joke along with them, for the most part.  It’s because very seldom does a joke make me laugh.  The way I process jokes, they are either for kids (“Why was six afraid of seven?”), for people without a good sense of humor (fans of Larry the Cable Guy and Dane Cook), and/or for the dirty-minded (more extreme than “that’s what she said…).  I think “jokes” are cheesy.  When a person tells me, “Oh, I got a joke for you,” I just wait for my cue and give them a courtesy laugh.

So what is funny?  For the most part, when something is subtle and isn’t necessarily supposed to be funny is often when it’s the funniest to me. I used to work in an office 9 hours every weekday and in the midst of the afternoon lulls, I found little things to amuse me. I would start laughing out loud and no one would know why I was laughing. And the truth is, these things probably weren’t funny to anyone else.

Here’s one example: A cliché phrase I had to hear a lot around the office was “crunch numbers”. So I thought to myself, “What if they made a cereal for adults called ‘Number Crunch'”? It will be made with whole-grain and would be in the shapes of the numbers 1 through 9. That way, accountants and other professionals who work with numbers all day would have the appropriate cereal to eat in the morning.

Here’s another: One day one of my co-workers came back from lunch with a jar of candy from Cracker Barrel. They were Atomic Fireballs- the kind we had when we were kids. She offered me one. I explained to her that I only like candy that has protein in it. (Example: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, etc., but not Skittles, Starburst, etc.)

Then she said, “I wonder what Fireballs are made out of…probably just sugar and water.” I immediately started laughing when she said that because I got this image in my head of someone biting down on a fireball and all this water gushing out of their mouth.  That, to me, is hilarious.  Maybe because it’s absurd.

My theory that “jokes aren’t funny” can be tested by the fact that funny stand-up comedians don’t tell really tell jokes anymore. Mainly they talk about awkward and annoying social situations.  Though some comics, like the late Rodney Dangerfield, can be funny mainly because of all of just one-liners. So I guess one-liners are funny. Like Chris Tucker having a career simply based on one line: “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?!” But delivery and composure ultimately land or crash the comedic aspect.

And I guess another thing that is funny is when people do stupid things and get hurt. People falling down is always funny. It works for Johnny Knoxville. Okay, so here’s what is funny to me: random observations, awkward social situations, one-liners, and people hurting themselves. That, my friends, is comedy.  Not some lame fake-story that ends with a pun or a curse word, prompting me to laugh: If I have to be reminded it’s funny, then… it ain’t funny.  I’m just not a “laugh tracks” kind of guy.

*If you liked this post, you may want to try reading “The Art of Being Funny” by Ben Wilder and also “What is Funny?” by Jessica Muto

The Art of Storytelling: How to Be a Good Storyteller- Start in the Action or Plot, Note the Irony and Comedy, Then Do a Quick Recap

I’m not good at it.  I just follow a formula I made up.

Last month my Italian second cousin Phyllis from Kenosha, Wisconsin left me a comment on my post People Watching in Nashville Traffic, saying, “I love your stories!”  Until then, it had never crossed my mind that I even told stories.  I’ve always seen myself as a younger Grandfather Time- the voice of a man who keeps one foot in the past and one in the present, in order to keep a nostalgic feel on everything “new” idea I write.  Just an involved narrator.

I’ve always thought of myself as a commentator on life.  A writer of nonfiction.  There’s no hesitation in me admitting I’m no good at making up stories- fiction is something I am only a spectator of, not a creator.  What I can do is embellish the story that is already there.

Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon

By connecting the facts to old school pop culture references with a subtle smart Alec touch.  Finding ways to make the ordinary occurrences of life seem more interesting than they are.  My favorite author, Michael Chabon, refers to it in his book Maps and Legends, as “the artist’s urge to discover a pattern in, or derive a meaning from, the random facts of the world”.

 

And that’s basically what I’m doing.  And I get so much out of it.  It makes me feel like, in a sense, I’m about to prove the world’s wisest man ever, King Solomon, wrong, when he said there’s nothing new under the sun.  (Though he’s still obviously right.)

Because everyday life events actually are more interesting than they seem.  They may just need to be seen from a reversed diagonal angle.

So now I’m embracing the fact that intermittent in all my quirky observations are actually little stories.  The tag “storyteller” became even more real to me yesterday as I was conspiring with my sister to write Which Role Do You Play in Your Family? When I asked her what my roles are, the word “storyteller” came up write away.

There are certain things about yourself you can only learn from other people.

Frank Lapidus

Maybe my surprise in all this is the connotation that the word “storyteller” conjures up in my head.  Some eccentric, animated man looking like Frank Lapidus from LOST (for some unknown reason) telling a corny ghost story to a bunch of kids gathered around a campfire who all gasp at the end of the tale when he says, “And the ghost of Tom Joad still haunts this campground today in the form of the wolf that killed him…”  And of course, right as he finishes that sentence, the storyteller’s buddy, who has been hanging out in the woods waiting for his cue, howls at the top of his lungs, for dramatic effect.

 

But now I get it.  Storytellers can also recite true stories.  Nonfiction.  That is my specialty.  And now that I better understand who I am as a writer and communicator, I am starting to realize my frustration when people don’t tell stories the way I like to tell them (and hear them).

Like the guy at work who drags out the end of the story until the last sentence.  And I think to myself, “You can’t do that!” Because I get annoyed waiting to find out the point of the story and I stop listening and start thinking about something else, and whatever I start thinking about instead ends up becoming a new post on this site a few days later.

Or the friend of a friend who uses the punch line or climax of the story as the opening line.  Again, “You can’t do that!”  Because then I feel like there’s really no point in sitting around to hear all the details.

What that tells me about my own form of storytelling is that I have a formula for it:

1)     Start the story in the first moment of action and/or the plotline.

2)     Get to the resolution of the story by the second paragraph, approximately 1/3rd or halfway through the length of the post (or if the story is being told orally, 1/3rd or halfway through the time set aside to tell the story).

3)     Spend the rest of the time or page space picking out the irony and humor of the story’s events.  By not ending the story when the story actually ends, but instead, ending on an provoking or comedic recap note, it opens up the door for the listeners to share in the story- because the story is resolved, yet left open-ended.  (Like the finale of LOST.)

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on storytelling, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

I “Get” Conan O’Brien: Why So Many Americans Support Team Coco Over Jay Leno

In the Year 2010…  In the Year 2010…


I am one of those people who function best on 5 ½ to 6 hours of sleep a night.  Any more than that and I’ll wake up with a headache and the rest of the day will just drag by.  This is something I learned in high school (1995-1999).  And the way I found this out was by staying up every night to watch the then unfamiliar Conan O’Brien.

He acknowledged his audience: High school students, college students, and senior citizens.  Demographics showed those were the people who for some reason kept tuning in each night.  Those were the groups of people who “got” his kind of humor.  Such as:

A giant bear wearing a diaper who was put in a chamber with cash flying around who instead of grabbing for as much cash as he could during the 30 second time limit, he chose to grab… himself.

Staring contests between Conan and his sidekick Andy Richter with distractions on stage to make it for challenging for them both.  My favorite was when a robot came out on stage and sat down on a toilet.  The sound of bolts clanking into the bowl were heard.  Then the robot raised his arms in victory.

Andy Richter’s little sister.  She was in love with Conan and would sit in the audience in her pajamas and pigtails and rush up on the stage whenever she got a chance.  I remember having a crush on the 25 year-old actress who played her; it was her first role on TV.  Years later she ended up on SNL and eventually got her own show, Parks and Rec.  Amy Poehler.

Not Cool Zeus.  Conan would flip through his “special NBC satellite” channels to see what else was on while his show was on.  He watched a show called Not Cool Zeus where Zeus broke obvious social boundaries.  One time he drank milk right out of the container from the fridge, looked around to see if anyone was looking, then snuck it back in the fridge.  Another time he did a huge cannonball into a swimming pool right next to a group of people who were just chilling out.  Each time a red logo would be stamped onto the screen that read “NOT COOL ZEUS”.

Raymond, who gives away Preparation H to audience members and sings, “Raymond’s here, Raymond’s here”.

Triumph the Insult Comic dog: “For me to poop on!”

Secrets with Mr. T.

http://hornymanatee.com/

Twitter Tracker.

When it really comes down to it, Conan O’Brien is my favorite comedian on TV.  And he has been as long as I’ve been watching him.

I don’t “get” David Letterman’s style of humor.  I’ve tried.  I failed.  The dry, aimless, ad-libbing Midwesterner and his Jewish bandleader Paul Shaffer were never a team that pulled off keeping my attention.  I’ve never made it through a full episode of his, not even the ones where he heavily addressed his scandal.

But Conan’s randomness reminds me of the way my guy friends and I joke around.  It’s not vulgar.  It’s just weird and off the wall.

Conan O’Brien is much more scripted.  Almost too scripted.  And somehow that becomes an advantage instead of a downfall.  It’s part of the fun.  In a way it’s like he’s making fun of how organized the show is.  He has always mocked NBC and his writers.

Like a grown-up version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse where he is the only legitimate entertainer amongst a crew and network consisting of imbeciles.  And a creepy Jewish bandleader named Max Weinberg who just happens to also be Bruce Springsteen’s drummer.  That is solid.

And the fact that Conan refuses to change his Spandau Ballet hairstyle. And that he speaks in a 1940’s radio broadcast dialect.  And that he constantly makes fun of his pasty white skin and lanky 6’ 4” body.

Yet he comes across as the classiest late night host.  Conan is somehow timeless.

I remember a few years ago I remember thinking how weird it would be if any of the late night hosts themselves ended up in the headlines.  Because so much of their job is sarcastically commentating on what’s going on in the news.  Ironic.  Now with David Letterman’s sex scandal, Jay Leno’s failed new show, and Conan’s leaving The Tonight Show, all the bases are covered.

I will always be a Conan guy.  Whether he’s on NBC or not.

Manspeak, Volume 1: Humor

It was April 2002 when I first learned/realized that humor is an expected male trait. My sister and I went to this $5 concert some new young musician guy was doing in Birmingham, AL. Supposedly he was about to make it huge and this show was to thank the local radio station for being the first to play his songs. It was none other than the pre-Jessica Simpson, pre-Jennifer Anniston, pre-tattoo sleeved John Mayer.

For months following the concert, I was unable and unwilling to remove his No Room for Squares album from my CD player. I picked up on the fact this 24 year-old kid swam in something I could relate to, and it wasn’t just our shared love of the year 1983. He spoke my language. The third track, “My Stupid Mouth”, had a line that said, “I just want to be liked, just want to be funny, looks like the joke’s on me”. That’s when I realized that I was not alone in that I felt responsible for having to be funny, because I am a guy.

While no doubt there are countless social expectations from the female gender, one that is not important and vital is humor. That’s a guy thing. Compared to the overwhelming number of male comedians, it’s more difficult to find successful female comedians. The ones I can think of right off, are not the norm for what is considered feminine: Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Wanda Sykes, and Roseanne Barr.

I’m a personal fan of Ellen. I watched her talk show every day my senior year of college. She’s like one of the guys. And I think that’s why I relate to her so much.

The big exception to this “guys have to be the funny one” rule of comedy is Friends. Three men, three women, and they’re all funny. The show was co-written by a man and a woman. That 50/50 designation of both the actors and writers was part of the massive success of the show. Both men and women could relate to the humor and the characters. Even Seinfeld had a 3 to 1 ratio of male to female actors. Friends broke the mold.

Yes, attractive and feminine women can definitely be funny: Anna Faris, Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz, and Chelsea Handler. But I still see a tom-boyish quality about them. Where it at least seems like they grew up with all brothers. And for every one exception, there are five Seth Rogen’s, three Jon Stewart’s, and four Adam Sandler’s.

Men are expected to be funny, at least in some degree. Even Ben Stein, as dry and drab as he is, is still hilarious. (“Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”) And the Terminator in his violent mission of destruction, right before he returns to the police station by running a squad car through the glass doors and blows away all those in his path, declares, “I’ll be back”. That, is funny.

While this may put extra pressure on a guy, there is a trade-off. Guys don’t have to find the perfect pair of shoes to match every “cute outfit” they own. Or give birth.

“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” –Marilyn Monroe

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

 

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