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.


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


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

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