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Ear to the Ground: Belly Laughs

by Bo McBrayer

“Ear to the Ground” is a year-round column from the stylings of Bo McBrayer, blending the spice of life with fantasy football advice in the form of a dynasty trade value chart good for the next month. Join him this week as he talks the beauty of belly laughs while offering his advice post-Super Bowl and pre-NFL Free Agency.

Life is funny. At least there are a lot of things that we should be able to laugh at if we look around our world through a certain lens.

Humor is a science worth studying, as it is quintessentially subjective. My cup of tea might be shared by millions of others but not by everyone. A person’s sense of humor is so carefully catered to them that it’s no wonder why so many struggle to find another person they can click with and share the cure-all that is laughter.

How I Got These Scars

“Why so serious?” Heath Ledger’s bone-chilling performance as the nefarious Joker in “The Dark Knight” told a story of unsettling humor in the face of crippling childhood trauma. His question instructed us to look inward and ask ourselves why our circumstances induce stoicism and stone-cold gravity instead of a silver-lined redirect to enthusiasm and levity.

dynasty trade value chart

Research shows that the average American laughs eight times per day.

It’s easy to fall to the ground under the weight of life’s burdens, especially when a maniac is holding you at knifepoint. Life hardly has that Nolan level of suspense and drama, yet we find ourselves laughing less than ever before. Pay attention. There aren’t many things around us that aren’t completely hilarious from a different perspective.

Mostly through my unquenchable need for attention, I was the class clown in elementary school. This didn’t jive well with my parents, who wondered if I was squandering the intelligence that placed me in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE).

I didn’t want to be smart, instead using wit I gleaned from books to make people laugh. In retrospect, I had to be one of the most annoying children in existence at the time. Many people deal with varying traumas with humor, whether to hide their pain or to move on from it.

I guess I did a little of both (and still do).

Only Joking

I’m still the same class clown, forever a student of observational humor that has darkened considerably over the years. My career in hearing health allows me to primarily work with senior citizens, allowing my old soul to flourish. The stories told in my office run the gamut of cheesy romanticism and finding belly laughs in the saddest tales of dementia and death (I’m serious).

I have clients who have been married for 70 years and still play practical jokes on one another to maintain that spark. My favorite is the 82-year-old woman who was widowed a decade ago and is now online dating, which she says she wishes existed when she was in her “flapping days.”

I think I’m pretty funny, as do a lot of people. I still struggle to make my wife laugh. She’s tough. She demands a joke or story with flawless execution to crack her. She also relishes in challenging me and keeping me humble, so the same corny anecdotes that give my clients a giggle don’t phase her.

We play pranks on our daughter all the time. That gets both of us rolling. Our pets bring us so much joy and side-splitting, cheek-aching laughter. Much like our sense of smell, the most vivid memories are often tied to moments that made us laugh the hardest. I can usually get a laugh out of my wife by recanting a story from my youth or when we first met.

One of the best stories from the past that has never faded is the “Woodpile Prank.”

The Setup

Ever the practical jokester, my dad mastered the art of the setup. He totally could have been a stellar performer had he chosen that path. There is one ruse that will stick with me forever because the execution was flawless, and he included me in his plans to “get” my little sister, who was 12 or 13 at the time.

Let me set the scene:

My dad was the caretaker of a 4,000-acre ranch west of Paskenta, Calif., in the Mendocino National Forest. Our nearest neighbor was six miles down the hill, and we were over an hour from the closest hospital. This was notable because of the rough terrain and the presence of dangerous wildlife like mountain lions, bears and rattlesnakes.

We had full run of the ranch, with hunting and fishing galore. There were horses and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) to ride and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.

However, my sister wasn’t too keen on that at this age. She instead opted to watch Disney Channel and play inside most of the time.


Peak rattlesnake season was during the scorching summer months when temperatures would approach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The snakes would seek shade and often would hide under my dad’s wraparound porch. He loaded his pistol with buckshot to avoid ricochet if he needed to shoot one under the house. This happened regularly enough that my sister would peek under the porch before climbing the steps to the front door. Naturally, she did her routine looksie one day and was met by the flickering tongue and threatening buzz of an adolescent Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.

My dad took care of the animal, and aside from the panicked shuffle into the house, my sister wasn’t too shaken by the whole ordeal. She refrained from peaking under the porch after that, which made our lightbulbs simultaneously click on.

We learned to survive off-grid in those years. How to handle different animal encounters and worst-case scenarios were a common refrain. We were constantly tested and reminded to be prepared for anything. Dad started dropping more hints about watching where we walk and how to treat snake bites.

We went squirrel hunting to “help manage the rodent population.” The fastest route to Enloe Hospital in Chico was mapped out in case one of us kids had to drive. One August Saturday, when all was calm and peaceful, we put our plan into action.

The Punchline

My dad had split a bunch of firewood in the spring but didn’t want to give snakes a habitat so close to the house. He emphasized how perfect of a hiding spot it was for a rattler and how much he was dreading throwing the wood in the back of the truck this time of year. Sis was on the couch watching “Lizzie McGuire” when I gave my dad the signal through the sliding glass door.

8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year in the U.S.

I quietly went to the fridge and grabbed the ketchup bottle. We put two dots of ketchup on my dad’s forearm, mimicking a rattlesnake bite from reaching into the woodpile. The rest was an Oscar-worthy performance.

I snuck back into the house, pretending to make myself a sandwich. In comes my trembling father, eyes as wide as saucers. Sweating from the summer heat, he had also clenched his arm tightly to make it swell. I put my arm around him and stumbled into the living room.

She turned white as a sheet when he gruffly mumbled, “We have to go…now!” I tossed her the keys and said I needed to work on the wound, so she needed to drive. At this point, she started scrambling and spilled her drink that was on the coffee table.

That made us crack. We were no longer able to contain our laughter. My dad had tears in his eyes as he licked the ketchup off his arm. Once she processed everything that had just happened, she went from frantic and confused to mad.

When I reached out to her this week for comment, she laughed and said she’s “still traumatized.” Knowing how she drives now, I can say for certain we would have made it on time.

Nature’s Medicine

Some might find it cruel because it was. It’s also still incredibly funny to all of us. Come to think of it, most of my dad’s pranks involved snakes.

He nailed a rubber snake under the lid of his ice chest at family barbecues, too, and recorded everyone going for a cold one and having their soul leave their body for a second. He loves keeping people on their toes. I do too. If everyone lived on their toes instead of digging their heels in, the world would be a better place.

Laughter is truly the best medicine and is free of charge. My advice is to share more belly laughs and be careful when reaching into woodpiles.

Dynasty Trade Value Chart: Comers, Stayers & Goers

With as many dynasty leagues as I have, it’s as if my life is subsequently running perfectly parallel to the ebbs and flows of the NFL calendar. “Families are always rising and falling in America,” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The players I’m trying to flip or keep to build a dynastic championship fantasy team range from rising stars to surprises at their peak.

The ones I am looking to make a trade for, hold or trade away during the 2023 pre-NFL Free Agency period at each position are noted on a dynasty trade value chart below:

Dynasty Disposition
Position Buy Hold Sell
QB Jalen Hurts (PHI) Russell Wilson (DEN) Brock Purdy (SF)
RB D’Andre Swift (DET) Austin Ekeler (LAC) Kenneth Gainwell (PHI)
WR Jerry Jeudy (DEN) D.J. Moore (CAR) Deebo Samuel (SF)
TE Mike Gesicki (MIA) T.J. Hockenson (MIN) Cole Kmet (CHI)

Thanks for checking out my most recent dynasty trade value chart! Find all my work on Twitter, @Bo_McBigTime, and check out my huge collection of decadence at BigTime FlavorCo.

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