Jack McHugh: Student Voices Speech / by Academy Monthly

Good Morning students and faculty. About 2 weeks ago I was tasked with writing a speech for this assembly today about a story or memory of my choosing. Every day since then I have gone through my life thinking about the most monotonous tasks and thinking about how I can turn them into a 6-minute speech. I thought about writing about the time I ran backward when I was 5 during a football game and laughed the whole way or even running into a tree dressed as Darth Vader at my brothers 5th birthday party and crying the rest of the time. All of these are pretty self-explanatory and haven’t had a significant impact on my life. I want to share something important to me, that has inspired me and had a huge impact on who I am today.

One of the things most people know about me is that I love a good laugh. Doesn't matter what that joke is about, I just like to laugh. Just picture what would make a middle school boy laugh, and that’s right down my alley. In fact, a couple weeks ago we were in the cafeteria and Matt Brittingham threw a singular piece of bread at one of my other friends and I lost it. I became tomato-faced and struggled to find time to breathe. This leads to others at the table laughing hysterically as well at my expense. Do I know in any way why this was funny, no. But does talking about it make me smile and chuckle, yes without a doubt. Sometimes though, not all my jokes are hits and people are silent and look at me like I have 3 heads and tell me that was stupid. Now I turn red from not laughter but embarrassment. These moments are extremely awkward, but I allow myself to move on and move past that joke in favor of one I think the person would like. Now I’m not gonna stand up here and say that laughing will cure all your problems, because it won't. What I can say though is that it often helps you put life in perspective and just makes you feel better. I am going to share some funny experiences that have in fact shaped who I am.

Recently, for those who don’t know, I was in the prestigious Mr. GA competition, the all-male beauty pageant here at the academy. For my talent section, I sang the song Fergalicious. It’s a great song but what I thought made my performance memorable was my outfit. I had on a nice hipster theme outfit. This consisted of bright floral patterns on the top and bottom, a way too tight pair of pants that if I had to bend over would rip instantly, and a “shirt” that more just covered my chest. And to top it all off, a black wig that was knotted. I didn't want to project it because there are young kids in the crowd and it is definitely not rated g. I think if I had just gone up and sang, people would’ve enjoyed it greatly, but my dancing also entertained the crowd. Maybe it was the fact that I am a bigger kid in small clothes dancing or that I am a great singer and they weren’t laughing but cheering as I belted out some of Fergie’s rap. Making the people in the audience laugh is what made my night and honestly so far my year.

A little before that competition, I starred in my English groups trailer of Everything I Never told you, which by the way is an amazing book. Once again, I was wearing a wig and I was playing the role of the books main character Lydia. Most of the scenes would revolve around me and every time we would do one I would start cracking up. Mainly because at the absurdity of what I was doing, but also at the fact that the other members of my group would be laughing at my facial expressions during the scene. Mr. St Jean and other teachers seemed to enjoy this one more than kids because of the complexity of the script and the dashing man that played Lydia. But nonetheless, I received compliments and chuckles when someone would say something about the film.

Lastly, is a story about a year ago. Once again I was on this stage here except I was wearing a short baby blue dress that frayed at the end and again, you guessed it, a black wig. My brother Sean and I were up on stage singing Don't go breaking my heart, a lovely duet about not breaking a heart. I played the lady and sean the man. This was about 30 seconds of us uncomfortably standing up on stage singing and making awkward eye contact with each other. I'm pretty sure at one point I looked at him lovingly and reached for his hand, but he pulled away. I guess he was just playing hard to get. Anyway, everyone was laughing as we made fools of ourselves up on stage for our house. The rest of the day people would walk up to me and say how what Sean and I did was really funny.

Now, what do all these stories have in common besides a black wig? Humor. All these stories are about me making fun of myself for the benefit of others. Why do I like to make people laugh, I don’t really know. The only reason I can think of is that I am good at it, usually. But why I really do it is because everyone needs to feel good especially with everything that happens in our world today. I think that making fun of myself is the easiest way to accomplish this goal. No one is going to get upset or offended if I am making a fool of myself, they will just laugh at me. People are able to come together regardless of who they are and talk about how stupid I looked or what I did was really embarrassing or funny and laugh. Now I'm not saying I bring the whole world together because I wore way too tight pants, but I am saying that everyone can laugh at me and just enjoy that moment and hopefully feel better about themselves because they aren’t wearing those pants. 

I also like to make people laugh because I’m extremely awkward when I first meet someone. I’m not the smooth guy that most of you think I am, I’m normally quite awkward and shy. Being able to make people laugh feels like to me that they are sort of accepting me. I obviously don’t go straight into a wig and dance when I first meet someone, but I like to make them laugh with a dad joke because it brings me ease knowing someone likes the same humor as me.

One thing I try to do is go through my day making everyone I talk to smile. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s what I think is the best medicine. I know sometimes it’s not that simple and that a dad joke won't always fix it and that’s ok. But what I want everyone to think about and hopefully remember from my speech is, even some of these weird moments mean a lot to me. These experiences are so silly and goofy and sometimes seem insignificant, but reflecting on my time in high school, they are what stand out to me. These times where I make fun of myself have shaped my time in high school and allowed me to connect with others. They are what I am going to remember most when I am done here. I hope all of you can find some seemingly small experience that makes you smile and laugh, and hopefully brighten that will your day. Thank you and have a great day.