I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. I am no Jerry Seinfeld but I do enjoy just trying. Just ask my wife Brooke. She has to put up with my silly antics. But usually I prefer people laugh with me instead of at me.
Here in Uganda I seem to make people laugh a lot. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld when I go out into public. At least I imagine him telling jokes left and right and everyone falls down laughing. He would be like a drive by joke teller leaving a wake of laughter wherever he goes. I mean doesn’t he enter a 7-11, drop a joke or show his fusilli Jerry, and walk out with his big gulp to the sound of laughter?
So the fact that I make Ugandans laugh is a good thing. I think. I hope. But every time a Ugandan laughs it isn’t at a funny joke or quip. It is just when I speak. It is when I greet someone, order a soda, or generally open my mouth.
Just the other day I walked up to a shop keeper and asked for a Mountain Dew. She put her head in her arms and was laughing so hard. This is the kind of reaction I want from my wife when I tell jokes. Even a sympathy laugh will go a long way. But this is not the kind of reaction I want when I order a soda from a stranger.
So what’s the deal with me being funny? It’s not because I have spinach in my teeth. I don’t eat spinach, so I am sure. It’s not my jokes, because I am not telling any. And besides I am not Jerry Seinfeld who must ooze comedy and even his serious things are funny.
All I am doing is speaking Luganda. I try to greet, and order, and speak in the main language here in Kampala. While ordering in Luganda, I have yet had anyone tell me, “No soda for you. Come back one year.” But I do imagine I am butchering the language. Steaks, chops, ground meat, and other various cuts of the language are left lying around when I am done. But this can’t explain it all. People are genuinely surprised to hear a mzungu (white person) speak their language. I am genuinely surprised that they are surprised.
All of this laughter is actually encouraging because it means they are not used to foreigners speaking their language. This means that if I can even speak a little of the language then it will give me a unique opportunity to proclaim the gospel. I can take being laughed at for the sake of Christ.
I will remain an unintentional comedian here in Uganda because I will continue to speak (that is try not to butcher) Luganda. As a matter of fact, I challenge Jerry Seinfeld to a comedy duel on the streets of Kampala. I could give him a run for his money. Oh, who am I kidding; he just says something and then yada yada yada you are laughing uncontrollably. But at least I have some insight into how Seinfeld lives.