Life’s a Beach

I am not a beach person. First of all, beaches are often in hot, humid, tropical climates and 60 degrees is about as warm as I ever want to be.

Secondly, I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies and one is I never walk barefoot anywhere. The minute I get out of bed I put on socks and shoes, always in the same order, left sock, left shoe, right sock, right shoe and I don’t take them off unless I shower or go back to bed.

Ten years ago I was an educational keynote speaker in Seaside, Oregon. When we get to our room, the first thing my wife, Twyla, notices is it overlooks the Pacific Ocean. She wants to take a romantic, barefoot walk on the beach.

I ask her, “Have you not met me? I won’t walk barefoot on this hotel carpet, let alone on a sandy beach.”

“But, Kent,” she counters, “they have public showers where you can wash your feet when we’re done.”

“Yea, the term ‘public shower’ isn’t sweetening the deal.”

So as she’s walking barefoot in the sand and surf, I’m 50 yards away in my socks and shoes walking on the boardwalk, yelling, “Yes, that is a beautiful sunset.”

Twyla and I spend many a summer evening at the Kansas City Royals games (Have I ever mentioned our son, Keith, works for the Kansas City Royals?) and our companions for many of these games are Twyla’s cousin, Brenda, and Brenda’s husband, Jeff. These three have what us comedians call a “day job” and our conversations often turn to the difficulties they are experiencing. Mean bosses, unrealistic expectations, difficult co-workers.
Wanting to be part of this, I rack my brain for something to complain about and all I can come up with is travel hassles such as late flights, lost luggage, and waking up in a hotel room not knowing where you are or why you’re there.

Jeff is kind enough to just commiserate with me, but Brenda and Twyla aren’t buying it. Twyla says, “You have no idea how many times he calls me from a hotel room that is overlooking an ocean.”

Brenda piles on, “Yes, last month I was talking with him on the phone as room service was arriving with his supper. Just once would I like someone fix and serve me dinner after a hard day’s work.”

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at below video). www.kentraderspeaks.com

Chivalry

It’s the little boy that kisses my hand, the young man who holds the door open for me, and the old man who tips his hat to me. None of it is a reflection of me, but a reflection of them.”
Donna Lynn Hope

Having finished being a healthcare keynote speaker for the Idaho Healthcare Financial Managers Association in McCall, I’m driving back to Boise to catch a flight for my Baby Boomer Comedy Show in Oregon. I stop at a McDonald’s for a cup of coffee and stretch my legs. Walking in I see an elderly woman throwing her trash away. Some of it falls to the floor. As I’m picking it up for her, she comments, “My, there still are gentlemen in the world.”
I respond, “Yes, plus it saves my mom having to drive from Missouri to beat me for being rude. It’s such a long drive, what with gas prices and all.”

We both laughed, but later in the car, I was reminded that though Mom insisted on me being a gentleman, it was Dad who modeled being a gentleman. When our daughter, Maggie, was young, she asked Mom what attracted her to Dad. Mom responded the most attractive thing about Dad was he was always a gentleman.

And it’s Dad’s example which motivates me today.
A few years ago, finishing a run, I see our neighbor, Linda, sitting in her yard, crying, cutting individual blades of grass with scissors. When I ask if she’s alright, she responds, “My mower won’t start.”
After unsuccessfully trying to start her mower, I tell Linda I will get my mower and mow her lawn. Walking in the house, I tell Maggie, who’s home for the summer from college, I’m going to mow Linda’s lawn. Maggie asks, “Don’t you have a flight this morning?”

“Yes, but I have 45-minutes to mow Linda’s lawn.”
When I saw Linda crying, the first thought that went through my mind was, “What would Dad do?”
And that’s what I did.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at below video. www.kentraderspeaks.com

I Know Just How The Cat In The Hat Feels

Being a healthcare and education keynote speaker and co-star of The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seat Belts, it’s hard to explain what I do for a living to our seven year-old grandson, Kai. Sure, he’s seen me perform on television and youtube but he thinks I’m just screwing around like I do with him when he’s at our house.

But since every other adult in his life has a job, when he doesn’t have school, he spends the day with me. The Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving were just such days. He and I are playing Corral The Dinosaur. I’m using my wife, Twyla’s, tube of Bath and Body Works body cream as a zapper trying to corral a t-rex. Even though Kai has his elbows tucked against his side to portray the short arms of a t-rex, he knocks the zapper out of my hand and stomps on it.

The explosion all over our living room snaps us back to reality. Kai looks like, “I’ve done messed up big this time” strikes me funny and I laugh and laugh. (When both of my kids pointed out I would have jumped all over them if they’d done something like that, I tell them Bill Cosby said, grandparents are different people than they were as parents because now they’re old people trying to get into heaven.) I laugh until I realize there is just 90 minutes before Twyla gets home from school.

We throw our cloths in the washing machine. I get dressed, but since I don’t have any other clothes for him, Kai’s helping me clean the living room in his underwear. We’re cleaning the walls, ceiling, furniture, floor, even the two cats who were napping in the line of fire. Just like The Cat In The Hat cleaning up after a visit from Thing One and Thing Two, Kai is pulling on his cloths warm from the drying and I’m whipping down the last window as Twyla pulls into the drive way.

She walks into the living room, which pretty much looks the same as it did when she left nine hours ago except now the scent of orange ginger hangs heavy in the air. She says, “It smells like my body cream in here.”
And this child that I’d spent the past 90 minutes conspiring to keep out of trouble sells me out, saying, “It was Papa Kent’s fault.”

The only question now is who is going to watch him during Christmas break?
Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. For more information and/or to find out how to contact him please visit www.kentraderspeaks.com

Sluggerrr

My assistant, Melanie, picked me up at the airport following my flight home after being the closing governmental keynote speaker for the Oklahoma Certified Public Manager’s meeting recently. Melanie’s daughter, Sarah Kate, was in her car seat accompanied by her pre-school class’s mascot, a stuffed animal named Freddie the Frog. Freddie leads a vagabond life, going home nightly with a different student and doing whatever that student’s family does.

I suggested Freddie’s name should be changed to Pinkeye the Frog because you know this thing is crawling with germs from every pre-schooler’s unwashed hands that’s ever touched him. Although Melanie laughed, she did report Sarah Kate came down with a cold immediately following Freddie’s sleepover.

It seems this practice isn’t limited to pre-school. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned more than once, our son, Keith, works for the Kansas City Royals. Now that the baseball season is over, their mascot, Sluggerrr, stays with a different employee every night. Keith says sleep is in short supply when Sluggerrr is at his place. Sluggerrr is constantly yelling, “Let’s go, Royals, let’s go” or playing “dat da da da dat da da da” on his trumpet and yelling, “Charge!” Last week he was on Keith’s balcony shooting hot dogs from an air powered bazooka at people heading out for their morning commute.

Following the eviction hearing, Keith is living with us until he finds a new apartment.

Always remember the words of Gilda Radner who said, “Laughter matters.”

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at below video www.kentraderspeaks.com

Through Sickness and In Health, Even in August

Being an educational and healthcare keynote speaker, August is a busy month for me and this August was no exception. I was gone 19 days visiting 12 states, three of them twice and not only did I have all the usual hassles of travel including late flights, eating alone, and TSA searching my bags (If they aren’t any better at finding explosives than they are at repacking my stuff, people are going to die.), I also struggled with two cracked ribs suffered in a bicycle accident just before leaving on this marathon of travel and work.

The second night, in an effort to relieve the pain of my ribs for a better night’s sleep I took two aspirin and drank six ounces of beer. I always worry about something happening to me while alone in a hotel room, so I reported my self-medication to my wife, Twyla, that night before going to bed. She made me cringe in pain from laughter when she said, “You’ll be just another comedian found dead in his hotel room from drugs and alcohol.”

A week later I’m in New Orleans remembering a book I read about the history of Galveston, Texas which was founded by the Lafitte brothers, the pirates, who’d gotten kicked out of New Orleans. Walking down Bourbon Street late one night returning to my hotel after my show I was thinking, “What would you have to do to get kicked out of New Orleans?”
Forty eight hours later, after being an educational keynote speaker for the Big Horn County Schools in Basin, Wyoming, I’m driving to Salt Lake City to catch a flight to Oregon. This is 420 of the most beautiful, yet desolate miles you will ever drive. Three hours into it, I met Wyoming State Trooper, Officer Aullman, who was kind enough to stop me to let me know I was driving 10 miles over the speed limit. He was the most polite, pleasant young man, saying, “Mr. Rader, I hate to stop you.”

I go, “I’m not. I’m happy to see another human being. I have spent the last hour thinking maybe I had slipped into an episode of the Twilight Zone.”

My August odyssey ended in Kansas doing a benefit for the MS Achievement Center. The MS Achievement Center (http://www.msachievement.org/) enhances the body, mind, and spirit of people with Multiple Sclerosis by providing activities and programs, but the main thing it provides is hope for a brighter future. The audience was filled with people suffering from different degrees of this crippling disease, some using canes or walkers to others stricken to wheel chairs, but almost all had a loved one there with them. I was touched by the fact these spouses had truly made the commitment of “through sickness and in health.” Crawling into bed late that night, I was thankful for not only my health (including my healing ribs), but for Twyla who has been there every step of the way in this journey of mine.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at below). www.kentraderspeaks.com

A Friend in Need is a Friend In Deed

Years before becoming an educational and healthcare keynote speaker, I was doing a breakout session at the Oklahoma Education Association conference. I was nervous and tense because it was the first time I was ever speaking on stress. Matters were not made easier because the entire time I was speaking, coming through the accordion walls separating the sessions, was an uproarious chorus of laughter, music, and joy.

After my session I had to meet the person responsible for such merriment. In the next room I found a mob of teachers surrounding what can only be described as a cowboy. He looked like he’d dismounted his horse, come into the convention center to ask for directions to the rodeo, and, upon seeing a group of stressed out teachers, decided to entertain them. The only thing missing was a campfire.

When the horde dispersed I introduced myself and he responded, “I’m Michael Johnson.” With that began a friendship that has grown over the past 15 years. Michael freely counseled me on the business side of speaking and inspired me to improve my performing skills. Although we’ve become peers, we have never become jealous of each other. We often recommend each other for work and continue talking monthly.

We speak on the phone but rarely see each other in person. That is why I was so excited when I was booked to be the closing keynote speaker for the Association for Nursing Professional Development convention in Dallas because it allowed me the opportunity to visit Michael.

Pulling into Michael’s east Texas ranch I was excited to spend time with him. Michael immediately introduced to his long-time friend, Jerry Lytle, and a roping buddy, Bronc Fanning. Showing up wearing running tights, running shoes, and a t-shirt I was dressed more like Michael’s wife, Sherry, than the three men. The men were all dressed in boots and Wranglers. (Last year, I needed to buy a new pair of jeans for my comedy club work and thought I should try something other than Levi’s, I asked Michael what he wore. He responded, “Wranglers because it says to in the Bible.”)

Shaking Bronc’s hand felt like having my hand encased in granite as it was hard from years working with his beloved horses. We ate dinner, drank a few Bud Lights, and told stories on Michael and Sherry’s porch until late into the night.

The following morning after Sherry went to work, Bronc, Michael, and I were joined for breakfast by Michael’s roping buddy, Jerry Vessel . I felt like I already knew Jerry from a story Michael told the night before.

Michael was searching for an out-of-print book of photos of Rodeo stars from his childhood. He finally found one, but believing the $350 asking price was too high, he didn’t buy it.

Later at Jerry’s house Michel saw the book. He told Jerry what a treasure he had and how he’d been looking for it for years. When Michael returned from his next trip, he found Jerry had left the book at his house as a gift. When Michael explained he couldn’t accept it, Jerry said, “If something happens to me it’ll get sold in a garage sale. If I ever want to look at it I know where it is.”

I explained to the group how Michael and I met and that Michael had been a mentor to me. I remember Michael telling me once whenever I get down to call him because he’d experience it all and would help me through.

Michael said Bronc had been a mentor to him in roping in much the same fashion. Well, maybe not the same fashion.

Once Michael was haunted by missing a calf in a competition. He obsessed about it until he called Bronc. Bronc’s advice to Michael was, “Michael I want you to climb on the roof of your barn, jump off, and kill yourself because none of us ever missed a calf and we don’t want a looser like you in our sport.” Michael said Bronc’s sarcasm made him realize every roper had missed and wallowing in self-pity was not going to help him improve. He needed to forget about it and get back to work just like everyone else.

Though the stories often involved sarcasm and rough treatment, the love and respect these men had for each other came through.

The last story of the morning was about their recently deceased friend, Hollywood. As Hollywood’s time grew short, Michael organized a lunch at his ranch for him, Jerry Vessel, and the rest of Hollywood’s friends. Already confined to a wheelchair, Jerry loaded Hollywood up, wheelchair and all, in the bed of his pick-up. Michael said Hollywood looked like he was riding on a float in a parade as he came down the road.

As they sat down to eat, Hollywood asked Jerry to get him a glass of water. Jerry said, “Get it yourself you lazy SOB.”

Michael added, “The moral of the story is if you want a friend in this group, you’ll want to bring him with you.”

As we laughed I realized nothing could be further from the truth.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. www.kentraderspeaks.com (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now below).

Biking with Twyla on the Erie Canal

Last week my wife, Twyla, accompanied me to Clayton, New York for my Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. The trip was bittersweet because I love having her travel with me and this was her last trip of summer vacation before she returns to being an art teacher in a public school.

Because it was our last hurrah and it was Twyla’s first trip to New York state, we took a couple of extra days to sightsee. We took our first trip to Niagara Falls. When the border guard ask why we were coming into Canada, I did resist the urge to say, “You may not know it, but this woman’s a spy, she’s an undercover agent for the FBI, sent up here to infiltrate the Ku-Klux-Klan” because she did not look like a Charlie Daniels fan. We drove along the Niagara Parkway, site of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Trials Marathon.

But the highlight of the trip was bicycling along the towpath of the Erie Canal in Rochester, NY. We laughed at a sign which once said, “Canal Construction Ahead” but following a visit from vandals now warned “anal Construction Ahead.”

Twyla loved one resident’s Adirondack chairs painted in the six colors and correctly arranged in the order of the rainbow.

I’ve mentioned before, Twyla has an encyclopedic recall of lyrics for every song written before 1985. I asked her, “Twyla do you remember the old folk song The Erie Canal?”

Immediately she’s singing,
I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal,
She’s a good ol’ worker and a good ol’ pal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal,
Low bridge, everybody down, Low bridge, we’re coming into town,
You always know your neighbor and you always know your pal
If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

I laughed and laughed.
So in honor of our last trip of this summer, I have written updated lyrics for Twyla

I’ve got a wife who’s a pretty gal, Biking with Twyla on the Erie Canal,
She’s funny, bright, and my best pal, Biking with Twyla on the Erie Canal,
Anal Construction Ahead, Chairs line up, the last one is red,
I miss you on my trips ‘cause you’re my favorite pal
Biking with Twyla on the Erie Canal.

I wish Twyla and every teacher a great school year.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. www.kentraderspeaks.com

(You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at Below).

Humor is in The Ear of the Beholder

Last Monday I was an educational keynote speaker for the South Georgia Community Action and Head Start in Moultrie, Georgia.

Arriving at dinner time Sunday night, I went to Applebees for a bite to eat before checking into my hotel. Ordering a beer with my meal, the waitress says, “We don’t serve beer on Sunday.” Thinking it was just a Chick-fil-A type of thing, I substituted a cup of coffee.

I stop at a Shell Station on my way to the hotel. Putting some bottled water and a single beer on the counter, the clerk looks horrified. “You can’t buy beer on Sunday in Moultrie. If you go up the road a piece, you can buy it in Tifton.”

As I say, “Thank you, I don’t care to invest that kind of time.” I notice we’ve been joined by two Moultrie policemen. The taller of the two says, “We don’t drink alcohol on Sundays in Moultrie.”

“Oh I bet people drink alcohol in Moultrie on Sundays. They just have sense enough to buy it on Saturday,” I said.
That was a mistake. The other asks, “Where you from?”

“Oklahoma.”

“Well that’d ‘splain it.”

“What?”

“That smart Yankee mouth of yourn. You down here on vacation?”

I go, “If I was taking a vacation in south Georgia, I’d go to Tifton where I could get a cold one on Sunday night.”

Another mistake. I was the only one who thought that was funny. That is until the next morning.

I have a piece explaining that just because you have thoughts about a subject doesn’t mean your thoughts are based in reality. I open this with, “I’ll have a beer after a show, but my wife, Twyla doesn’t drink, neither of us ever did drugs, I’ve never even smoked a cigarette.” During my keynote on Monday I said, “I’ll have a beer after a show, unless it’s on a Sunday night in Moultrie, Georgia, then I’ll be drinking Coca Cola just like the rest of you.”

The room erupted. I told them the story about my encounter at the Shell Station, saying, “Only in south Georgia could an Oklahoman be considered a Yankee. You know we weren’t even part of the Union when you had that squabble with the North.”

Noticing at least 98% of the audience was African-American women, I finished with, “And you ever notice the only people who use the word Yankee are white men?” The room exploded.

Laughter truly does matter.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVk_10CC_BM). www.kentraderspeaks.com

He Who Laughs Last Thinks Slowest

I saw this on a bumper sticker last week while riding my bike around town. Bumper stickers are a glimpse into the driver’s attitudes, beliefs, and even mentality. When President George W. Bush was in office, there was one stating, “Some village in Texas is missing their idiot.” George Bush is not the smartest guy in America and seems proud of it, but I find it uncomfortable calling our President an idiot.

Likewise, when I’m running, I stay clear of cars with the one proclaiming, “I voted for THE American.” After all the documentation President Obama has provided for the “birthers” proving his American birth, this old, white man (and it’s always an old, white man) is too delusional to be driving. I’m afraid of what he may do.

My cousin, Patrick, has one stating, “I’d rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy.” My wife, Twyla, says, “Now that’s a special kind of stupid right there. I don’t know if Patrick’s ever driven a Chevy, but from the looks of his truck, he has pushed a Ford.”

My cousin, Roger, has the dumbest Dale Earnhardt bumper sticker. It says, “#3, Dale died ‘cause God needed a driver”. Where is God going that he needs someone who can turn left doing 200 miles an hour? And surely God knows Dale died in a car crash. Who’s God’s pilot, John Kennedy, Junior?

If a boy ever showed up at our house to pick up our daughter for a date with a “Show me your hooters” bumper sticker, he’d feel the toe of a 10 1/2, EE running shoe kicking him all the way back to the curb.

I’m not oblivious to the desires of young men. I was once a young man infected with the ill-effects of testosterone, but one can express one’s desires more eloquently.

Two weeks ago I’m on an early morning run in Plainview, Texas before being the keynote speaker for the Plainview Public Schools professional development program. Stopping at a light, I notice a pick-up with a bumper sticker imploring, “Be a flirt, lift your shirt.” So I did.

Thankfully the young man driving the truck found this as funny as I did. We each went to work with a smile on our face.

Please post your favorite bumper stickers saying here, then send me your t-shirt size and mailing address to kent@kentraderspeaks.com and I will mail you a free Baby Boomer Comedy Show t-shirt.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at

Have a Great Summer

My wife, Twyla, is a public school art teacher and this week she began her summer vacation. She has seventy five days without children. She has seventy-five days without morning duty, bus duty, or lunch duty. She has seventy-five days without collaboration or curriculum meetings. She has seventy five days to rest, relax, recuperate, and rejuvenate for next school year beginning in August.

Not only is my wife a teacher, throughout the school year I perform my stress reduction keynote program titled Let It Go, Just Let It Go for numerous educational conferences and professional development days. I see the stress today’s teachers experience firsthand. I believe it is essential teachers take time to do things they love during to summer to rest, relax, recuperate, and rejuvenate. Reading, working out, taking a vacation, being with your family are all excellent activities.

Twyla loves gardening. Every day she is home during the summer, she can’t wait to plunge her hands into the soil in our yard. If fact, for Mother’s Day, I bought her a new shovel and she loved it. She has been down ever since breaking her old one. The day she broke it, she told me, “I loved that shovel. I’ve had it longer than I’ve had you and gotten more work out of it.”

Have a great summer and always remember laughter matters.

If you are a teacher or have a teacher in your life, send me an email with your mailing address to kent@kentraderspeaks.com and will send you a free copy of my stress reduction book Let It Go, Just Let It Go for a summer read.

Known as the “World’s Cleanest” comedian and speaker, Kent Rader helps people learn and experience how laughter matters in reducing stress. Kent is the winner of the Branson Comedy Festival and co-stars in The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, Clean Comedy For People Born Before Seatbelts. (You may watch Kent’s segment on Comcast’s Who’s Laughing Now at

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kent@kentraderspeaks.com

Phone : 405-209-3273

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