Everyone is here for a reason, and I will argue until the day I die that my No. 1 purpose in life has been, and will always be, to make people laugh.
Regardless if this monthly column had never materialized, I basically have made my way through life trying to be:
n No. 1 - A standup comedian.
n No. 2 - The funniest guy in the room.
n No. 3 - The possessor of being able to laugh at myself before anyone else does.
My title here at the Mirror is copy editor/sportswriter. At home, it's dad/husband. At my mother's house, it's the middle child but the funniest of four children.
My one brother is terrific at being an educator/coach, the other brother is a magnificent doctor, and no one cleans professionally the way my sister cleans. And again, no one works harder to make people laugh than me.
And it was tough because not only did I have to hone my skills growing up in an extremely Catholic household/neighborhood, but an extremely Catholic education system in the form of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Bishop Guilfoyle High School. Let me tell you, making Italians laugh is a hard thing to do. There's a reason why "The Godfather" movies are not comedies.
Don't get me wrong. I loved going to school at both places. I would not trade those memories for anything, but I would love to trade in all the demerits that were given me during those high school days.
Quick study: Each student at BG got yellow cards each week. If you got your two demerits taken away from you during those five days, detention was handed out to that student at the end of the week. Can you guess whose comedic creativity was constantly being assaulted from 1979-83?
Some examples for you to ponder:
Because of some vandalism in the boys bathroom, there was actually a period where you had to go check out toilet paper from the office before going to the bathroom. Here is one conversation.
Adult: "Scott, what do you need?"
Me: "A roll of toilet paper."
Adult: "Here you go."
Me: "Wait ... better make it two rolls. We had baked beans today."
You can add your drum rimshot right there.
That was quick and that was funny. I made light of an uncomfortable situation, but it cost me a demerit. Some people just didn't get me.
Then there was religion class. One day, Father Carson (now Monsignor Carson at Sacred Heart) came into our classroom and said that he was not in a good mood, that he didn't want to hear any noise and that we should just open our books, settle down, etc., etc. He said he was in no mood to smile. What did I do?
I leaned into the aisle and out loud, in front of the whole class, from my desk, looked at him and said loudly: "Stanley, I could make you smile." He really needed to smile, but I found out in ninth grade that you do not call your teacher by his first name, especially if he is a man of the cloth, in front of other students.
It is my thought that these situations, along with others from high school, that I am probably not allowed to reiterate in this newspaper, made me the closet comedian that at least I think I've become.
In fact, I am cocky enough to say that even when I am gone, I will still make people laugh, even when it comes to my funeral. For instance, the photo that runs with this column is the best picture that has ever been taken of me outside of my wedding photo. I'm thin. I'm healthy looking. I'm happy. Inside my casket, forget the body. Just put a giant poster of that photo of me in its place, and people can sign it as they say goodbye, and hopefully, smile while they're doing it.
Scott Franco is a member of the Altoona Mirror sports staff, a husband and a father of four. Reach him at 946-7528 or sfranco@altoonamirror