Why Was I the Exception?

I went to a Catholic grade school, for grades 1-8.

I seem to recall that my first grade had 90 students and just one teacher, a nun. Talk about being a master of classroom management. But by the time we made it to eighth grade, we were down to just 15 students.

Since no one else seemed to want the role, I took on the position of class clown early on. I wasn’t the type of class clown that would perform outrageous antics, mine was a more subtle type of humor, making fun of people and situations, all for the sake of a laugh.

Imagine my surprise, and disappointment, then, while reading a recent study at StudyFinds: ‘Class clowns’ may also be the most intelligent students.

I was surprised that there would be such a connection, and then disappointed to realize it didn’t apply in my situation.

Here are some of the highlights of the study:

  • While many may look at “class clowns” as immature and attention-seeking, a new study suggests strong humor skills during adolescence may be a sign of high intelligence.
  • Researchers report children with higher than average levels of general knowledge and verbal reasoning tend to excel at humor.
  • The same isn’t necessarily true for adults, however. Researchers didn’t find a similarly strong connection between humor and grown-up intelligence.
  • When researchers compared intelligence and humor performance a clear pattern emerged. General intelligence highly correlated with humor. The study states that intelligence accounted for 68 percent of the observed difference in humor ability among the kids.
  • Notably, study authors found children with both higher general knowledge and higher verbal reasoning to be funnier than their peers.
  • Parents and teachers should be aware that if their children or students frequently make good quality humor, it is highly likely that they have extraordinary intelligence.”

So despite being the class clown, I don’t think I ever exhibited any signs of high intelligence. I still remember in first grade when some second graders promised me that there was a present in the bathroom for me, and then locked me in the bathroom. Why a bathroom would lock from the outside, I don’t know.

So if I wasn’t showing signs of high intelligence, I’m guessing I was more of the “immature and attention-seeking” type class-clown.

But I guess every research study has an outlier, and it looks like in this case that would be me.

I wonder if being a class clown in grade school had anything to do with me learning how to juggle in high school, wanting to go to clown school instead of college, and then performing as a clown as an adult.

I’m also wondering if maybe my class-clown act started to wear on my classmates, and may explain why my class went from 90 students to 15. If so, let me offer my apologies to my fellow classmates from those long-ago days.

But still, you’ll have to admit, making farting noises with your hands was, is, and always will be, funny…

*image from The Swaddle

76 thoughts on “Why Was I the Exception?

  1. Hmmm….yeah, I didn’t see a connection to my humor and my intelligence either! I wasn’t a class clown though, for I was too shy, but in my group of friends I was. Unfortunately it definitely did not help me excel in school, especially in math classes, but the school psychologist put in his report that he was impressed with my dry sense of humor at my young age. My parents still have the report, so I have proof. LOL!

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  2. I think children smile and laugh more than adults and are more easily amused for what its worth. Knock knock jokes were actually appreciated when I was a kid. At my school kids made the farting noise with their hand in their armpit. Adults seem to enjoy situational humor and foul language.

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  3. Farting noises are ALWAYS funny. I wasn’t exactly the class clown but I did sit at the back making sarcastic comments. I don’t think I’m intelligent or more intelligent than others but I was able to make a lot of great memories so that’s something I guess.

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  4. Maybe you needed to teach that nun your farting sound techniques. I’m sure she would have found it hilarious.

    My anecdotal research about class clowns I taught would agree with the research. They were usually some of the smartest kids in class. Unless their comedy was purely of a disruptive nature, I liked having them in my class.

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  5. I was schooled in uk selective system. Exam at age 10 to decide your future….off with 10 per cent to the tough academic school that streamed us for university, or over with the 90 per cent to the local high school which was more vocational. When our class test results came out, the 4 who got through the exam were 3 of us who had been nerdy good girl teacher’s pets … and the naughtiest boy in the class, a perennial disruptor. Tony and I were the 2 from the social housing estate who made it. I often think about Tony and hope he made it through the tough discipline of high school. I hope it didn’t break his spirit.

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    1. thanks for sharing that perspective; that is a fear that I have as well, that a school could break the spirit of someone who is different, in whatever way.


      1. I think we’ve all come across those people who are really brilliant and creative spirits, but who can’t get the nurturing they need from the institutions around them, and the test-and-grade systems. I’ve seen some skilled teachers who manage, even within the system, to gather everybody in and help them grow into understanding how to use and channel their gifts. It’s great when you see that flourishing taking place.

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  6. Maybe your higher intelligence was not as obvious back in the day, but it is hard to consider someone with a doctorate’s degree as being anything less than intelligent. On the other hand, I knew very few professors who can juggle. Either way, you should be proud of your Quincy identity!

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    1. or perhaps more like the Peter Principle; I kept going to school until I reached my level of incompetence 🙂

      I just did a little bit of juggling over the weekend; felt good! 🙂

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  7. I always tell parents of my kinder who are funny and understand the power of humor, that it is a sign of intelligence in a young child, as they have to think in a new way in order to deliver. and didn’t you stay a clown/juggler in your later years? and a professor as a side gig, not bad.

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  8. I think that maybe you are being too humble considering that you teach at a college unless of course you entertained your way in. I am thinking not or they would have also locked you in the bathroom.

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  9. My husband was the class clown. Sadly he’s never really grown out of it. 😦
    I suspect he took the role because he spent six weeks or so each year in hospital having an eyelid rebuilt as he grew (he was born missing one). Back in the 50s there was no off-school tutoring so he just got left behind. He’s still convinced he isn’t clever and can’t do exams, even though he passed the UK MOT inspectors’ test aged 69 with something like a 95% score.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They didn’t know better and probably didn’t have resources for additional tuition. And they needed kids in apprenticeships. He left at 14 along with most of his pals. He says the only time he started learning anything was in his weekly college attendances. Probably because they were all starting at an equally low point and the teaching was geared accordingly.

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      2. We don’t have enough apprenticeships. I think the move to get more kids into universities was a definite mistake. It devalued other, more appropriate, forms of training, and downgraded the value of degrees – a lose/lose situation. The only people benefitting are the universities.

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  10. That’s actually a really interesting study, and confirmed a sneaky suspicion I kind of had.

    I genuinely do think that if someone can be sharp and witty at a young age, they must have an absolutely refined mind and brain. Bit surprised that the study doesn’t say the same for adults though. I kind of expect anyone who can skill fully use humour to have a sharp mind

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    1. I think it is probably the same with musical talent; my guess is that someone who shows some musical talent at a young age is probably a bit more advanced intellectually than their peers who do not play an instrument…


  11. Lol, this was so funny Jim. And no doubts you were the class clown. As for the intelligence part, we may never know because the statement says ‘may have higher intelligence’. LOL 🙂

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