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Why did the pencil cross the road? Wait for it …

Second-graders crack jokes at LaughFest workshop


Kelly Karas’ second-grade classroom at Meadow Brook Elementary recently looked and sounded suspiciously like what you might imagine the writers room at one of those late-night comedy shows: moments of silence and scribbling, bursts of energy and raucous laughter, and lots of collaboration and camaraderie.

Abby Mauk tells her joke to teacher Kelly Karas

It was all G-rated, of course, as the pint-sized comedians who had just gotten tips from LaughFest Kids Joke Time host Allen Trieu tried out their own funny bone-tickling skills, then tested them aloud on one another. It was a chance for the children to be part of LaughFest, the annual comedic fundraiser for Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids. The event began Thursday and runs through March 17.

“They always come up with way different things (adults) can think of,” Trieu said. “They learn to take something that’s funny to them and turn it into something other people will laugh at. This is about passing on the laughter and the art of comedy to another generation.”

There were the standard knock-knocks, a ton of puns and some clever wordplay among the second-grade talent.

Second-grader Ellie Heth had a wordplay joke before the workshop even started, she said

Naomi Tamae riffed on cheesy-ness and pencil-vania. Pal Abby Mauk thought the words “banana” and “split” might have comedic potential. For Carter Lavalle it was “soccer” and “fans.”

“I tell really lame jokes at home. Like, a lot of really lame jokes,” admitted Madison Myers. “Once I saw the joke-teller (Trieu) say a story can be a joke too, now I have a whole page.”

Karas was clearly getting a big kick out of what her students came up with. Face it, she observed, kindergarten jokes are a little bit not-so hilarious, “But by second grade their sense of humor is starting to emerge. These are some of my quietest kids, and this is just great.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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