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WHO’S THIS CLOWN? ERIN HOFFMAN “What’s something you like about yourself?” My counselor sat across from me in her office, leaning in so far that her brunette bob pitched into her face. She spoke in the high, breezy voice she so often used to charm me into a positive mental attitude. It was raining outside. I twiddled my rings until my fingers looked rashy. “I guess I can be funny?” I looked at the shelving unit behind Dr. Keating instead of at her. We had been working on my self-image, which meant that every so often I had to say something nice about myself even though it ran against the grain of my strict anti-bragging ethos. “My sense of humor has always been a huge part of who I am. I want people to enjoy having me around, so I goof off a lot to make them smile. “Whether or not it’s successful is—” I made finger guns to defuse the tension “—debatable.” She nodded. “I think you’re funny, Erin.” Now, I know my therapist isn’t the most reliable judge of my comedic talent. She’s paid to make me like myself, and if that means throwing me a bone and telling me I’m funny, then that’s what she’ll do. Perhaps my real defining characteristic is a crippling lack of selfawareness, and I should amend my previous statement to “I like to think that I’m funny.” After all, my mother sent me a link to the article “Why Is Something Funny, And Why Should We Care?” a few months ago as if to say that my technique could use some finetuning.1 “Fun and interesting article! XO, Nev,” she signed the email with her family nickname. My mother is a confirmed article junkie, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find this message blinking in my inbox. hoffman 95

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Red Cedar Review Vol. 54  

Red Cedar Review Vol. 54  

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