I learned at an early age that God had given me the ability to make people laugh and entertain others. These gifts led to becoming a class clown who entertained students during many boring classes in elementary school, and entertaining people by turning lunch hour into the “John show” during High School. My love of making people laugh continued during College with the “party table”, and even today few things give greater pleasure than entertaining a large group of people with the same old joke or story.
Being an entertainer involves more than just telling jokes though, occasionally it will require playing a joke on someone else. These are always harmless and in almost every case are simply a retaliation for the prank someone else has pulled on me, but recent events have caused me to think twice about using practical jokes.
A few weeks ago Australian radio personalities attempted a prank phone call to the British hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated for morning sickness impersonating the Queen of England. Amazingly one of them using a fake British accent was put through to the room where she was being kept by a nurse at the hospital, which led to serious changes in security. The radio dj’s were suspended for two weeks by the station but didn’t seem to show any remorse or concern over the situation, with one of them making fun of it in a Facebook post over the weekend.
The attitude changed however when it was discovered that the nurse who transferred them to Mrs. Middleton’s room had taken her own life, obviously as a result of the prank call which brought not only humiliation, but the loss of her job. On a national news broadcast in Australia the personalities gave their first tv interview filled with tears and regret over the terrible loss. They also have lost their jobs in the aftermath, with radio-stations calling a nationwide ban on making prank phone calls, and $500,000 being donated to the family of the deceased nurse.
This incident has created a discussion over whether the woman would have committed suicide if true remorse was shown by the dj’s or radio station. Some say it was just a silly joke and the employees didn’t expect it to work (with one of them saying it was the easiest prank call they have ever done) while others feel that serious actions should have been taken such as a remorseful tv interview once the prank became famous.
We will never know if the unfortunate death of this nurse could be avoided. It is a reminder though that practical jokes along other things such as sarcasm, and making fun of a persons past mistakes can affect them in a deep way. My jokes would never lead someone to take their own life but the actions of this nurse illustrates for us just how powerful humiliation is. It’s easy to forget that friend who is laughing along has a heart filled with humiliation or embarrassment at the same time; emotions that can lead to harmful habits such as isolating that embarrassing part of their lives, or hiding it so nobody else can see how much it hurts them.
The Lord is using these events to help me eliminate practical jokes from the tools I use to entertain others because in the end, this brings much more pain than we know.