Nancy Roman


I read the other day about a person having an inappropriate case of the giggles. And oh my, a memory jumped up and yelled, “You despicable person, you!”

You –  in this case –  meaning:


Do you remember the old Mary Tyler Moore episode about Chuckles the Clown?  The station’s resident clown was the grand marshall of the circus parade. He wore his Peter Peanut costume, and in a bizarre twist of fate, was shelled to death by a rogue elephant. All the guys at the studio could not resist making terrible jokes, and Mary was appalled at their lack of decorum. Of course, their laughs had played out by the time of the funeral, and they were properly respectful, and it was Mary herself who came down with uncontrollable, ill-timed laughter.

That episode was one of the funniest things I had ever seen on TV.

Until of course I had a similar experience.

At least the occasion wasn’t tragic. I have that excuse, at least.

It was 1986, and I was working in the cable television business. I was based in Connecticut and my boss, Rick, the regional Finance V.P., was based in Virginia. I liked working for him very much. (and not only because it is sweet to have a boss 324 miles away.) He was an intelligent man with impeccable manners.  Incidentally, he had a stutter.

We were interviewing companies in order to change credit card processors. Rick came up from Virginia. A very nice man came in from Omaha to pitch his organization’s service. He was smart and friendly and well-prepared. He also had a stutter.

There were six of us in the meeting. We had no conference room in our offices, so we had just pulled chairs around in a circle in the largest office. I sat between my boss and Jim, the credit card company sales rep.

The meeting was productive and cordial, but gradually I became aware that the more that Rick and Jim talked, the more they seemed to have some kind of synergistic effect on their respective stutters. It was almost as if each man’s stutter encouraged the other’s.

Rick had difficulty with W.  “W-w-w-when w-w-will w-w-we sign the contract?”

And with Jim, he stumbled over B. “B-b-but b-b-both of us can b-b-buy some time.”

Sitting between them, I listened to these two smart, nice gentlemen:





I liked and respected these guys. I have stutterers in my own family. It’s fine. It never bothers me. And I am a good polite person.

It happened anyway.



I was overcome with the giggles.

I tapped my foot. I covered my mouth and pretended to yawn. I pinched myself. scribbled in my notebook.

I coughed. My shoulders shook.

Eventually, I started to cry.

“E-e-e-excuse me,” I managed to stammer (yeah, it’s catchy). “I have something in my eye.”

And I ran to the ladies’ room and laughed myself silly. Then I composed myself and rejoined the meeting.

A few days later, I was out for a drink with a co-worker who was also at the meeting.

“Did you find it hard to sit in that meeting, and not laugh?” I asked.

“NO!” My friend said, horrified. “OF COURSE NOT! What is wrong with you?”

Oh, I am a terrible person.



“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”






  1. Doug

    What a great story! Stifling the urge to laugh is so hard, and becomes so much harder when you look at the incredulous stares of those who don’t understand the joke… You’re not a terrible person, just a human one.


    • Yes I am certainly human… as shameful in my behavior as humans can be.


  2. Annette Rochelle Aben

    I can’t stop laughing for many reasons but not the least of which was the “horror” of the person at the end.. And the MTM episode is one of my all time faves… I used to work in a funeral home and the jokes I came up with constantly had the owner asking me regularly how much he paid me… After all the first 3 letters in the word are F-U-N, right? Lordy, I’d burn in hell if I believed in it.


    • From the left: W-w-w-w and from the right: B-b-b-b. It just escalated, and the sick part of me took over. (I hear lots of funeral employees as well as doctors and nurses need a morbid sense of humor to keep from being overwhelmed.)


  3. In some setting it has happened to us all. At least you went to the ladies room to laugh. So you never ‘fessed up to it? That’s so unlike you!


    • Well, when I fessed up to my coworker and he was so appalled that I had thought the situation was funny…. I kept it to myself – until now. My blog readers know all the worst parts of me – because they make the best stories.


      • Indeed! We don’t want to hear the tales of some perfect person! We want someone like us! *giggle*


  4. 😀 😀 😀 Why IS it when you don’t want to giggle, you giggle M.o.r.e.? Why?
    This story made me laugh too. Laughter is catching, even off the page. ^^’


  5. I was laughing the minute the stuttering conversation began. I think it would be impossible not to laugh. I’ve been in those crowded office meetings, everyone crammed around a desk, yawning, trying not to fall asleep as we discuss changes in the tax codes. The stuttering conversation would definitely set me off and it has nothing to do with one’s respect for the people in the room. It’s just one of those things. I am a mere mortal kind of thing.

    When the self-righteous co-worker entered the scene, I imagined her with pursed lips and a bad haircut. Always right, always better than everyone. Holier than thou. I laughed at her too.

    I loved the Mary Tyler Moore show. Great story.


  6. I seem to recall the most difficulty I had in suppressing laughter was in church. And, of course, everything is always so much funnier when you aren’t supposed to laugh.


    • I remember giggles in church. And I was in the choir!


  7. That MTM episode is still one of my favourites. Once the giggles start in an inappropriate situation they win every time. It’s even harder when two of you get them at the same time because as soon as you look at that person you are off again.


    • OMG, if someone else in the room had started snickering, it would have been a disaster! I would have ended up on the floor!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Deborah the Closet Monster

    This reminds me of growing up with my just-younger sister! Sometimes the giggles overcame us, not to leave–no matter how inappropriate– until they were done with us …


    • I have two older sisters. It is a miracle our parents ever took us out in public.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deborah the Closet Monster

        LOL! Yes.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I recall having a fit of laughter once, at work, when someone told a rather sad story about their cat and it triggered a memory of an old joke that (for some bizarre reason) I had always found hysterical (“In the golden days, the theatre had ushers with flashlights who guided you to your seat; nowadays, all they can afford is a one eyed cat that walks backwards down the aisle”). I started laughing, finally had to leave the room, and felt so guilty afterwards, I couldn’t look at my colleague for days. And when I tried to explain to her why I’d started laughing at her sad story, the giggle started up again. I don’t think she ever spoke to me after that (and, yes, the joke still makes me giggle!)


  10. I had a fit of the giggles at an inopportune moment, though it was nothing to do with stutters, but rather in the throes of passion (oh dear). The more I tried to contain it, the worse it got, until my laughter just erupted and was totally uncontrollable. The following day, my neighbours asked me what comedy we had been watching.
    He did see the funny side though (phew), but maybe that’s why he’s now my ex………. 🙂


  11. just reading that made me chuckle. I cannot imagine having to sit in the meeting. one time shortly after the birth of my second child I went to communion at church. In a sleep deprived stupor I had put on a maternity half slip and when I reached the priest it slipped down my legs. as quick as it happened, I reached down retrieved it, stuck it under my arm, took communion, made it back to my seat and could not contain my laughter. everyone around me gave me dirty looks. I had to leave the church. I just remember waiting for my family in the entrance to the church – still laughing. laughter is the best medicine and that one good laugh held my sanity for at least a year!


    • My great-aunt was at a wedding once and lost her underpants when she was dancing… she just kicked them aside and continued to dance. I like to think I inherited some of those genes.


  12. I loved the MTM show. And the Chuckles episode was the bomb. I think it’s only human to have the inappropriate giggles. And I can totally relate to Pensitivity’s comment up there but I’ll spare you the details. 🙂


    • Many of us have been there! I think it happens on those occasions much more to women than to men.


  13. Oh, I can relate. A poor colleague at work had a problem staying awake during meetings due to a medical issue. A few of us would sit across from her and watch her struggle to stay awake, then giggle uncontrollably when finely her head would fall. It was the only thing that kept our interest during the meetings. We are horrible people.


    • We’ve got a guy like that at the office. First step, the eyes roll back in the head….


  14. Great story, Nancy. And that episode is my very favorite comedy scene of all time. I can remember MTM being on the Johnny Carson show and Johnny tearing up laughing remembering it.


    • There was some kind of survey a while back, and it was voted the funniest TV episode of all time. I would agree.


      • Me too. It was a great show all around, but that episode was comedy gold.


  15. This was a hilarious story! I.would have had a difficult time composing myself


  16. I attended a funeral once in east KY. It was an Old Regular Baptist service and it consisted in part of elderly gentleman taking turns standing up and making random quotes from.Scripture and at the end of every cadence or phrase they would make.this ah sound. But there was this one guy who kept making a dog-barking sound at the end of his sentences instead of the aah sound and I found it harder and harder to stifle my giggles. I pretended to cough, I thought sad thoughts (I.really did like the deceased) I dropped my funeral card, and still I was shaking


    • Nothing like a somber occasion for a case of the giggles.


  17. I remembered that episode and it was hilarious, so was your story… and I am one to laugh at inappropriate times always…. sad part of a quiet movie theater? I will start to laugh, and by laugh I mean snorting… I have the kind of laugh everyone notices… My oldest was in theater in high school and was a semi pro for a while… anytime I was there, someone in the cast would walk up to her and say, “your mother is in the theater tonight” I have laughed aloud reading this post… thank you.


    • I remember seeing “The Sound of Music” as a kid. My little brother was about 4. In the scene in the garden, where the Captain and Maria realize they are in love – it is so romantic, and as they are singing tenderly about their discovered mutual love, my brother shouts out, “Boy, they have high hedges!” We laughed ourselves silly, but the rest of the audience was probably not amused.

      Liked by 1 person

      • they never are. My daughters have shushed me through most of their lives with my laughter and outbursts… they aren’t often, but, I fear, I have given them several memories they won’t soon forget.


  18. Cute,
    It happened many times-
    I could not care less about religion, but grew up in “the community” fast forward- My previous wife was half of a pair of twin girls. Always jokesters, inside information, only a couple identical girls could dream up. The setting is sombre- a prayer before the meal- if it lasted more than 12 seconds, one would begin to choke, the other give a pinch, escalate..


    • I don’t think there is any cure for twin giggles.


  19. How funny! I’ve gotten the giggles at the most inappropriate time too. There have been other times when something has struck me so funny that I can’t keep it together long enough to tell someone else about it…….and they looked at me like I’ve lost my mind. And maybe I had but I laughed the whole way there! Thanks for the laugh. 🙂


    • Oh yes, I have been laughing myself silly – with the tears streaming down my face. And when I finally recover enough to try to explain… well, it always sounds lame.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Love it!!! Good for you for managing to keep it together.

    Laughter has a way of bubbling up at the worst times!!!


  21. During a senior project for my undergrad degree, I couldn’t stop laughing when I was supposed to be presenting. It was totally informal, myself, a prof, and the two other graduating seniors, but I could not get it together. So embarrassing!! Glad it happens to the best of us at one time or another.


  22. my brother, starting to sing ‘happy birthday, Jesus,’ when they lit the candles at a midnight service christmas eve. i rocked the pew trying to stifle myself. i was also 13.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thirteen is a good excuse. But hopefully, your brother was not thirty.


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