The physiology party committee (me, Dave, Vivian and Nancy), started to accumulate a list of possible gifts and awards. The awards would just be simple paper certificates with gilded borders and the faculty names and awards printed on them. Producing something funny, but appropriate, for about 20 people, took a lot of thought and work. Some people we had lots of material on, and for some we were stressed to find any dirt. We added some post docs and staff to our hit list because we had good material or jokes for them. I did the shopping for some of the joke gifts and got the paper for the awards. Slowly but surely we accumulated ideas for every faculty member. We then needed to organize the order and delivery and also who would do the honors. I somehow got roped into doing the whole skit because I was the closest to graduating and would be leaving for Paris soon. I guess that meant if I offended anyone I would be 3000 miles away to avoid reprisals. Hopefully that would not be an issue.

The Christmas party was a very noisy affair and I was hoping that everyone would forget and that I would not have to give out the awards. But Nancy and Vivian got everyone quiet and together in one room for my “show” to go on.

The first award was “Miss Congeniality,” for the hostess of the Christmas party, Birget Zipser.

“Remember to be nice to the hostess because you may be eating something she made,” I said.

The next award was the “Most Beautiful” award to Tim Denerell, for his beautiful equation. The award had his name and the equation proudly and neatly printed above it.

“Tim truly has a sentimental streak. At his Ph.D. thesis dissertation he started his talk by introducing his mother and saying, ‘She was at my first day of school and I wanted her to come to my last.’”

The “Most Colorful” award went to Dr. Dillon.

“Not because of his colorful personality, or his vibrant use of the English language, but because of his choice of shirts and ties.”

Dr. Dillon would think nothing of wearing a purple polo shirt with a pink tie.

The “Most Creative” award went to Dr. Kaiser, for her creative naming of her pets. “As a pet owner with names like Miss Baby Mittens to my credit, though not deserving of the credit, I appreciate good pet names. But with her dog’s names including unique monikers like ‘Riffraff,’ ‘Squirty,’ and ‘Pituy’, she demonstrates her creativity. This creativity is also reflected in her innovative experiments.”

The “Einstein” award was given to Dr. Krier. Not because of his great ideas or expansive mind, but because of the similar hairstyles. On the award were two pictures—of Dr. Krier and Albert Einstein—with puffy and flyaway hair that was essentially identical.

To Dr. Adams we gave a bucket of sand.

“Look—this bucket of sand is to symbolize a dry sense of humor.” I said.

No one laughed. The joke was really bad.

I feigned frustration at the lack of response and said, “Ok, well all I can say is that this empty bucket now is for Dr. Jump.”

That got a big laugh from the audience. Dr. Jump was not there, so he did not laugh. He really didn’t have much of a sense of humor so everyone got the empty bucket concept.

The rest of the evening went well and got reasonable laughs with minimal offense taken by anyone. I was pleased that people seemed to get most of the jokes and that we did get some good “‘dirt” on all of the faculty as well as a lot of the senior staff. Several people told me that the empty bucket gag was quite funny and that the Dr. Adams setup was perfect, even complimenting me on faking being frustrated at the joke appearing to bomb.

“I’m glad my humor was appreciated. Should I look into doing standup as a career?”

“No, keep your day job.”

I agreed. I was having too much fun doing science to think about quitting.