Tag Archives: humor

Lessons for aid & development are everywhere – including on a TV comedy

I find lessons for aid and humanitarian work, including public health education, all around me, if I’m paying attention.

That includes watching the Andy Griffith Show, a 1960s television show that is still frequently shown in the USA. For my international readers: the show, mostly a comedy but sometimes dramatic, follows the adventures of a small town Southern sheriff and his family. It’s a highly sentimental, idealized show more about how people wish small town life was in the USA than it actually ever was. But I’m very fond of it because it shows the very real sweetness and eccentricities of small town anywhere, not just the USA, even if it’s highly romanticized and leaves out important facts of life in the Southern USA, like Jim Crow and the oppression of black Americans.

I recently saw one of the few episodes I don’t recall seeing when I was a kid. It’s called The County Nurse. The official summary: “Andy is forced to exert all his persuasiveness to get a farmer to take a tetanus shot.”

The premise is this: there is a county nurse – a government-funded health worker – that is visiting the town of Mayberry as a part of her job. The nurse has promised her bosses that she will have a 100% success rate in inoculations, but the person standing in her way on delivering on this promise is farmer Rafe Hollister, who has never had a tetanus shot. Rafe says he has never been sick and has never had to see a doctor and, therefore, doesn’t need this shot. In fact, he’s quite skeptical about vaccines in general. Sheriff Andy wants to help because he does believe in vaccines and because he is attracted to the new, and very pretty, county nurse and wants to help her out. At one point, Andy says to Rafe “go ahead and try the stethoscope. You can hear your heart beating!” And Rafe replies “I don’t need that to know if my hearts beating, I’m alive ain’t I? Then my hearts beating.” Rafe also says, “I ain’t never been to a doctor in my life. When I was born, I had my mama. When I die, I’ll have the undertaker. I don’t see no sense in clutterin’ up things in between.”

Andy offers the nurse advice at one point: “With a fellow like Rafe, you don’t just walk up and say ‘let me give you a tetanus shot.’ You hafta kinda make him trust ya first. Gain his confidence. Well ya sneak up on him is whatcha ya do.” And that’s just what they do: Andy finally uses his singing and storytelling ability to shock Rafe into taking his shot. Andy sings a sad song,”Dig my grave with a silver spade,” and talks about what Rafe’s funeral will be like if he dies from tetanus. Rafe relents at last.

It’s an episode where city sensibilities and country ways clash. The wariness of the country folk towards doctors and formal medicine is stressed – and not for the first time in this show. The only thing missing from this episode to make it more realistic would have been Rafe repeating crazy beliefs about vaccines.

You can find pirated versions of this episode online relatively easily. It’s less than 30 minutes long.

Sadly, I don’t think we have county nurses anymore…

Also see:

Is your organization a buzz kill?

Is your organization a buzz kill to new ideas? Does your organization cry “It’s against our policies/It’s not in our policies!” when an employee member or volunteer suggests an activity – and the response isn’t because what’s proposed isn’t good idea, but because somone at the organization is afraid of… well, something?

Stephen Colbert has been trying to start a political action committee (PAC). At first, his parent company, Viacom, said it was illegal. So Colbert consulted with a lawyer and came up with a way to make creating a PAC legal. But the parent company for his show, The Colbert Report, still said no, sent Colbert a letter explaining why, and asking him not to read the letter on his show. So Colbert paraphrased the letter thusly:

We are stupid lawyers who hate fun. If you do this, we’re all scared because people might get mad at us. I think we just peed a little. So, even though we know it is totally legal and everything, and everybody wants you to do it, we’re not going to let you.

Admiral John Q. Buzzshackler, Esq.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I have gotten this message myself, not from lawyers, but from colleagues at organizations where I’ve worked or where I’ve volunteered – one fairly recently, when I made a very simple suggestion regarding a one-time social media activity to a very well-known nonprofit organization I won’t name now, but will be happy to if you buy me a beer. The emails I’ve gotten over the years, including most recently, can be paraphrased similarly:

“We are stuffy nonprofit/NGO/international development agency senior managers who hate fun and new ideas. If you do this, we’re all scared because people might get mad at us or someone somewhere may say something negative about it or we might have to work differently. Or we might have to actually work. I think we just peed a little. So, even though we know it is totally legal and that thousands and thousands of organizations are doing this successfully and it could lead to more volunteers and more support, and most everybody wants you to do it, we’re not going to let you.

Secretary General John Q. Buzzkill

Happy Friday, everyone!

A few fun links for Friday

logoA few links for Friday, when I’m not sure anyone actually reads my Blog or my Facebook entries and I’m not feeling very creative…:

  • Howard Sherman, Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing and a good friend (and my former boss at Hartford Stage!) has a delightful blog about after-performance discussions following live stage performances. I have attended these more than a few times, and lead two myself at two different theaters, and he’s spot on with these observations. Made me smile. As does this photo of Howard next to one of my favorite people in the world.
  • I also recently reconnected with another colleague from my theater days, Sharron Boilini, now of the Westport Country Playhouse, who helped give me insight into what attendees might be expecting out of the live online event I’m helping to coordinate for TechSoup (it’s March 30 – join me and hear me try to talk about accounting software for nonprofits!).
  • Was thrilled to find this Japan-based organization: Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support. Speaking of Japan, because I’ve raised more money on the monetized pages of my web site (the pages focused on helping individuals find volunteering, community service and humanitarian work abroad), I’m donating anything I raise in March above my target goal to an organization focused on helping in Japan. It won’t be much — I’m not making anything to brag about on these pages — but it will be better than nothing.
  • I’ve created a Flickr set of photos of me at work. Very fun to compile. It’s obvious, isn’t, that I really love to work! See all that I can do when it comes to training for your nonprofit, NGO, or other community-focused organization.
  • Are you a trainer? An online community architect? A techie? A marketer? An oh-so-engaging online facilitator or online event producer? And do you love nonprofits and understand their unique culture and needs? If so, you should check out the cool open jobs at TechSoup.
  • One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is Frank Conniff. One of his latest: If FAA doesn’t want air traffic controllers sleeping, why not use the screaming babies that always keep me awake on planes.
  • Another favorite Twitter feed of mine is FakeAPStylebook: Affect is verb: “The songs of Liza Minnelli affected the crops.” Effect is noun: “Behold the effect Liza has on the corn!”

One last thing: please don’t be offended if I don’t follow you on Twitter, particularly if I already subscribe to your blog via RSS and have friended you on Facebook and subscribe to your email newsletter, in which case I know what you’re up to, really!


TV depictions of volunteerism

In addition to being highly amused at how television dramas portray international aid workers, I’m even more amused by certain comments made on various TV shows, mostly about comedy, about volunteerism.

I’ve been collecting quotes regarding volunteering and community service from various TV shows for a few years now: I hear one, usually on a re-run, and run scrambling to Google to find it if it was too long to write down. I know there are TONS of hilarious quotes from The Simpsons regarding volunteering and community service, but I can never find them online later… Here’s one that I was able to find soon after I heard it:

Homer: Community service? But that’s work! What about jail?
Judge: Community service!
Homer: No, I want to go to jail. Free food, tear drop tattoos, library books that come to you. I’ll serve anything but the community!

I didn’t hear this one, but found it online; it’s from from The Vampire Diaries:

Pageant contestant: Just because my DUI made my community service mandatory doesn’t mean I was any less committed.

Another I didn’t hear myself, but found online; it’s from Scrubs:

Dr. Kelso: Attention surgical residents still hoping to have a job next year. The annual blood drive is upon us, and I will be needing a volunteer to greet our donors as the hospital’s new mascot, the friendly hypodermic needle, Mr. Prick… We’ll probably change the name.

But by far, I’ve found the most quotes online regarding volunteering from The Office, a show I so adore. The first three are from the character Dwight:

Volunteerism is important. Every weekend I volunteer at the local animal shelter, they need a lot of help down there. Last Sunday I had to put down 150 pets by myself.

And I did not become a Lackawanna County volunteer sheriff’s deputy to make friends. And by the way, I haven’t.

One more from The Office – an exchange between two characters:

Ryan: Jim. I wanted to apologize… for how I treated you last year. I lost sight of myself and now that I’ve quit the rat race I’ve realized there’s so much more to life than being the youngest VP in the company’s history. I’ve even started volunteering. Giving back to the community.

Jim: Well that’s great. You’re talking about your court ordered community service?

Ryan: I don’t need a judge to tell me to keep my community clean.

Jim: But he did, right?

The most hilarious depiction of volunteerism I’ve ever seen? The entire episode of “The Old Man“, where Jerry and his friends volunteer to help senior citizens. It’s priceless. I wish nonprofit organizations had permission to use it in volunteer orientations and trainings.

All this came to mind because Susan Ellis is focusing her March hot topic on jokes regarding volunteerism. It’s even more great stuff to make you laugh on a Friday.