January 19, 2020

Comic Timing Runs in the Family

Photo by Pixabay

I love Sukkot. It’s one of the highlights of my year because my wife, Kylie Ora Lobell, and I enjoy hosting family and friends in our magical sukkah. 

This year was different, though. By the time Sukkot began, Kylie was nine months pregnant. But that didn’t stop her from encouraging me to invite people for dinner. She couldn’t handle 30 guests like in the past, but she was fine with the 13 we had on the invite list. Two weeks before the holiday, she told me we were full and not to invite anybody else. 

I’ve always had an impish quality about me, so I decided to play a little practical joke on her. I told her, “Oh no. I already invited the Bangitoff family from synagogue.” “Who?” she asked. “You know, the Bangitoffs.” “I don’t know who that is,” she said. 

The Bangitoffs weren’t real, but I needed to convince Kylie that they were. I told her something that we’d heard from so many different people that you could have attributed it to almost anyone in our community. “You know, Mrs. Bangitoff is the one who always comes up to you and says,” and then I did my best Persian accent, “ ‘Oh, you are pregnant? You look so beautiful. I can’t even tell.’ ”  

Kylie said, “I vaguely remember that.” 

And being the amazing, sweet person she is, she said, “OK. Bring the Bangitoffs. How many are they?”

“Five,” I said.
“What? Five more people?”
“Well, there’s Mr. Bangitoff, Mrs. Bangitoff, and the three little Bangitoff children.”
Most people would probably back out, but my wife did not. She just sighed and said, “That’s a lot of people. But we’ll find a way to squeeze them in.”
I couldn’t help it and I started laughing. I said, “There are no Bangitoffs.”
“I made them up. What kind of name is Bangitoff anyway?”
“So you lied to me?” Kylie said, her face turning red.
“No, it was a joke.”
“That’s not a joke. It’s a lie.”
“Well, all jokes are pretty much lies. The only difference is that they’re funny.”
“That wasn’t funny, so it’s a lie.”
“OK, sorry,” I said, feeling bad. 

It’s one thing to give birth. And it takes a lot to get a joke over on me. But to do the two things simultaneously?

A week later, we were at Friday night dinner at our friends’ place. I thought enough time had passed, so I told the Bangitoff story. Everyone laughed … except Kylie. 

On the walk home, she said, “Why did you mention the Bangitoffs?” “You’re still mad about it?” I asked. “Yes, I am. Never bring up the Bangitoffs again.”

Cut to one week later. My wife is in her 18th hour of labor with our first child. She’s surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses screaming, “Push.” and appears to be in excruciating pain.

I’m standing at the side of her bed for support. She signals to me to lean in so she can whisper something in my ear. I’m worried that she’s going to tell me she’s experiencing some problem. I ask her, “Is everything OK?”  

She whispers, “You’re not the father.”

I think the epidural is making my wife loopy. “Huh? What are you talking about?” 

With the exact perfect comedic timing, she takes a pause and says, “It’s Mr. Bangitoff.” 

We both start laughing uncontrollably.  And with that laughter, and the satisfaction of turning the joke on me, Kylie gets the strength and pushes our daughter out into the world. 

I have to hand it to my wife. It’s one thing to give birth. And it takes a lot to get a joke over on me. But to do the two things simultaneously? And with such great timing and perfection? 

Kylie wins this round. And so do I, because I now have a beautiful baby daughter. Here’s to the Bangitoffs. They’ll always have a place at our table.

Daniel Lobell is a comedian and storyteller based in Los Angeles. He hosts the podcast “Modern Day Philosophers” and writes the comic book series “Fair Enough.” DannyLobell.com.