Back in the ’90s I had the idea for a little visual pun that, if I do say so myself, is still quite clever to this day. The idea was to create a small, physical representation of someone’s sense of humor, so that when someone felt down and gloomy and odds were stacked against them, they could hold up the object and say, “Well, at least I still have my Sense of Humor.”
Being a cartoonist with a silk-screen print set and a sewing machine, I decided to make the objects myself. The best representation, I determined, was a jester, so I designed a simple doll that I could print in white ink on various colors of cloth then sew with a single stitch.
Thus the Sense of Humor Doll was born. I still have the first test printing, on construction paper, framed and on my office wall.
At first I cranked out a bunch of dolls for friends and family. Then, on a whim, I sent some samples to a mail-order company that specialized in humor-related products (their main business was conducting workshops on humor in the workplace). The company loved the dolls and ordered them by the dozens. That’s how my house became, for a time, a stuffed-doll factory.
Freshly printed doll patterns were hung to dry on lines that I strung through the living room. I would sew all of the dolls in one sitting (although that sitting usually lasted a whole day or two), then would trim, turn, stuff and seal the dolls while watching TV.
Once the process of single-handedly creating hundreds of dolls became overwhelming, I sought help. Finding seamstresses who were willing to sit and sew the intricate back-and-forth pattern for hours on end proved too difficult, so I gave up and continued the process myself. But I found help with stuffing by contracting with the skilled labor department of the local ARC.
I added to the inspirational novelty item line with two stuffed lightbulb designs. One said “Lighten Up!” while the other read “Bright Idea!” The humor-product mail-order company ordered large batches of those as well.
Just as the mail-order company decided the Sense of Humor Doll concept had gone as far as it could and ended their orders, I received a call from a gentleman in Canada who was interested in purchasing the manufacturing rights to all of my novelty items. So, off went the Dolls.
The Canadian businessman ordered the manufacture of large lots of dolls, but unfortunately his business plan fell through, leaving his basement filled with hundreds of the little jesters. Eventually he contacted me and offered the dolls at a reasonable price. So, back came the Dolls.
It’s the Canadian edition of the Sense of Humor Dolls that I’m offering on my store page. They make great stocking stuffers (some folks even use them as tree ornaments) and serve as excellent reminders that even in these unsure times, we still have our Sense of Humor.