Another Shout Out -- Howie Mandel

>> Monday, December 21, 2009

For the second time in the history of this blog, I am going to redirect you to another entertainer for your dose of humor today.

First, let me give you some background. Two posts ago, I said that I think in laughter we can evidence understanding, misunderstanding, strength, and foibles. The risk of trying to be a humor blogger (or a comedian, for that matter) is that the humorist may think he or she is showing acute understanding and highlighting enduring strength of venerated institutions despite human foibles, while the listener or reader may think the humorist has obviously misunderstood and is just trying to poke holes in sacred ground. (On the other hand, the humorist may be trying to highlight foibles and making institutions or people look bad, but that isn't my point today.)

Some of you may have heard that comedian and Deal or No Deal Host Howie Mandel has written a book entitled, Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me. I have not yet had the chance to read the book but the fans on Twitter are raving about how good it is. In a nutshell, the book is Howie's autobiography about his life with ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD.

The more I read and listen to what people are saying about this book, the more impressed I am about the courage it took to write this book and to share a life like this. I am very proud of this man. (Can you be proud of a man you have never met? Let's go with "yes" on this because otherwise I would have to make up a new word to describe this emotion I'm feeling, and you know from my post last Friday how I feel about made up words.)

In fact, I am so moved by the strength and honesty it took to write this book that I am actually a bit chagrined at my casual use of the term "OCD" in this blog in the past, including my recent post, "The Self Conscious OCD Visits the Dentist." In hindsight, the ease at which we use the initials "OCD" in common conversation is rather insulting to people who are affected by this very real and very serious disorder.

Howie, I'm sorry. I know you never even saw what I wrote, and you probably will never see this post, but I'm sorry nonetheless. No insult was intended, but perhaps insult was given anyway.

Some of you may be wondering why I've taken such a serious bent in my usual tongue-in-cheek forum. Here is why. I think Howie Mandel's approach to life is evidence of a truly incredible part of the human condition -- the healing power of laughter, on ourselves, and on others. As Darling Husband and I learned over the past few years, you can understand this concept, or you can live it.

Laughter got us through some very dark days in the first two years of our son's fragile life. If you had been here in this house, you would have heard jokes that were very dark, and sometimes very gross. (Medicine in the home can be a very messy thing.) I can only classify this phenomenon as "gallows humor," and I think the very fact that we have such a phrase is evidence again of its impact.

I know that I generally refrain from talking about anything "medical" in this blog, but I can't help myself today. I started writing this blog in part to help reach out to the families of medically fragile children who so desperately need a chance to laugh. We were fortunate enough to finally see an end to use of the term "medically fragile" in this house, and replace it with the words "typical" and (however politically incorrect) "normal." Many, many families are lifers with the medical stuff, and sometimes those stresses are unendurable, yet they must be endured.

I thought maybe you all who read here so faithfully might be interested in knowing why I persist in doing this every weekday, day in and day out, rather than occasionally or sporadically or "when the mood hits me."

Now, for your chance to really laugh, I would ask you to please take a look at Howie Mandel's segment on the Ellen DeGeneres show earlier this month. And, if you are still shopping for Christmas Gifts, consider purchasing one, or two, or ten copies of his book. (If you still need a gift for me, I still need this book.) While you are at it, though, skip the book signings and just read it. You'll see why in this clip.


Anonymous December 21, 2009 at 8:03 PM  

Karin - I followed your (almost) shameless plug over here and am glad I did. I love Howie and saw that episode of Ellen. My little one and I were getting over a cold and all I could think was - They actually DO make a big plastic bubble. I wonder if Ellen would send us one if I sent in a pic of my trached and vented kiddo??

Karin December 23, 2009 at 7:05 PM  

I'm glad you came over! I try to make a joke in every comment, but there is nothing funny about how glad I am you are here. (Unless we want to start making jokes about my ego again....)

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