When he's not planning a heist with Danny Ocean
, comedian Carl Reiner is still making people laugh. The 87-year-old recently completed the Mark Twain-inspired novella "Just Desserts
" -- hitting shelves in September -- and he's been talking to his old pal Mel Brooks about reuniting for an updated version of the 2,000 Year Old Man
But of all his creations, Reiner is most proud of his three children, Rob, Sylvia Anne, and Lucas (we're guessing "The Jerk
" comes in a close fourth). His offspring are all in the entertainment biz, and Carl's late wife Estelle is widely known for spouting off the line "I'll have what she's having" after Meg Ryan's fake orgasm in "When Harry Met Sally
So with Father's Day coming up, we asked Carl to give us some tips about how dads can go about making sure they preside over a household with a sense of humor. Believe it or not, it doesn't involve slipping them pharmaceuticals.Click here to check out Carl's advice, from creating a humor-friendly environment to owning your corny dad jokes
Create an Environment for the Funny
Reiner (pictured left, with son, Rob): "People who have no sense of humor cannot make jokes. It just doesn't come to them. So it's partly a natural thing, and partly the environment you grow up in. If you're born into a family that looks at laughter as a positive, important part of life, then it'll help your sense of humor. My parents used to love to take us to comedies and listen to radio shows that had comedians like the Marx Brothers in them, so we gravitated towards them."
Humor Is Timeless
"Governments and mores have changed, but people remain the same. People are still looking for love, looking for acceptance -- yearnings haven't changed. The pace seems faster, but people still laugh at the same stuff ... So will your children."
Your Kids Will Follow Your Lead
"My father was an inventor. He was a very creative guy, and he had a great work ethic. I caught that from him. I never did not work. When I was doing 'The Dick Van Dyke' show, I wrote the first 40 of the 60 shows by myself. Today I see 30 different writers on each show, back then it was me. Luckily, I got some more writers later on, but for a while it was just me, and a lot of how I learned that was by watching my father just sitting and thinking and working."Using Comedy to Get Along
"I have three kids who have wonderful senses of humor, and my wife had a good sense of humor. Of course, there was a lot of screaming and yelling in our house, but we were always able to diffuse it with a joke.
My wife had the ability to say three or four words that would crack a place up. When my daughter was 16, my son Robbie who was two years her senior said, 'Hey Dad, why don't you get Annie (pictured left) a nose job like her friends are doing for her 16th birthday?' In Beverly Hills, a couple of the parents had gotten their girls that gift. I said to Robbie, 'Her mother has got a nose bigger than Annie's and look at the guy she got.' Estelle said, 'It's not the size of your nose that counts; it's what's in it.' I told Steve Martin that and 10 years later he calls me and says, 'Hey, Carl, I'm doing a movie of 'Cyrano
,' do you think I can use Estelle's line?' I told him, 'Absolutely.' And we got the pleasure of then seeing Cyrano say Estelle's line." Don't Over-Think It
"You can't think about what's funny. It's really seat-of-the-pants stuff. If you can come up with something that tickles you, you just laugh and then you have it." Be Your Own Critic
"If you can please yourself with your material, then you can please someone else. That's my thought. I don't look at something and say, 'Is this going to make someone else laugh?' I look at something and see if it makes me laugh. I'm not unusual."If You're a Corny Dad, Then Own Your Corniness
"You have to have confidence ... If you're a corny person with corny jokes, it's OK, because your kids will still love you, because you're a good father. So you better be a good father. People are who they are. If you need a joke, here's one: 'He went peacefully in his sleep, not like the passengers in his car who were screaming in terror.' That's got a funny edge on it."Looking for more expert advice? Check out some of our recent columns.
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