At any given time in the hours leading up to a Garden Concert for Kids, there are at least three kids rolling down the hill in the garden. It’s like a law of physics—at one point last weekend I counted, and there were eight rolling down all at once. Also notable was a group of Korean kids who had a whole new take on the concept of hill-rolling: one of the boys played dead while his friends faux-wailed over his prone body. Fortunately, their play-grief soon turned to mirth as they prodded him until he rolled down the hill.
Once the concert started, courtesy of kid-family band Recess Monkey, the rolling ceased, to be replaced by jumping. Lots of jumping. The kids jumped so much that Recess Monkey added a micro-naptime to their setlist.
After watching the energy and glee this week (and last week at The Okee Dokee Brothers’ concert), I became interested in chatting with the true stars of these garden concerts: the kids. Sarah McCarthy, project (and kid) specialist, helped me come up with some hard-hitting questions to ask them.
Inspired by their hit “Knocktopus,” a song about a knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-knock-joke-telling octopus, we decided to ask kids to share some of their favorite jokes. There were a lot: only the very shyest of kids could resist the chance to tell their favorite joke. Some moms even chipped in: highlights included the oldie-but-goodie “Fun Guy/Fungi” joke (a joke which flew over some kids’ head), and a mother who alluded to a killer dumb-blonde joke that she refused to tell in the presence of her two sons.
Recess Monkey’s song “Knocktopus” is about an octopus that likes to tell knock-knock jokes. What’s your favorite joke?
My first interview, Nora, had to think long and hard before choosing her favorite joke, and she was only too delighted to answer the question.
Nora: Here’s mine: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Nora: Interrupting pirate.
Me: Interrupting pirate wh—
Sean, too, was obviously a wit—he had lots of puns.
Sean: I love stuff like “Books Never Written” in Boy’s Life. Like, How to Survive in the Wild by Igot Eaten. I don’t know, that’s all I got; I’m only good with puns. Like, when I’m eating beans, I like to think in my head—like my mom says something, and I’m like, “this is so uncanny.” Or, I’m eating a burrito—“This is really cheesy.”
Though Sean struggled to come up with the perfect pun on the spot, he ran up to me later to tell me this joke:
Sean: What do you call a deer with no spots?
Sean: I have no iDEAR. And what do you call a deer with no spots and no legs?
Me: I don’t know, what?
Sean: I still have no iDEAR.
But for sheer cuteness factor, this might be my favorite:
Maya: It’s my knock-knock sister joke.
Maya: Knock knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Maya: Calla and Maya!!
Maybe it’s not TECHNICALLY a joke, but the delivery was spot-on.
For the next question, I surveyed the kids about their speculative band names. Did you have a band name picked out for your future rockstar self when you were a kid? Mine was “The Spice Dogs,” inspired by my grandparents’ dog Pepper and my uncle’s dog Ginger. And The Spice Girls.
“Recess Monkey” is a very clever band name. If you had a band, what would you call it?
Chloe told me her band would be called simply, “Holla.” When I asked her if she meant the bread or the expression, she replied by reiterating her band name with even more enthusiasm, while “raising the roof.”
Next, I interviewed Kendall and Jack—they had great rapport. Jack at one point even proudly proclaimed that he followed his sister everywhere (except, of course, at school, because he is in first grade and she is in fourth). Kendall had a tough time trying to decide between “The Sparkling Cats” and “The Flying Cats.” For a second there, I thought she was going to go with “The Sparkling Flying Cats,” but it turned out I was mistaken. Alas, for that would have been an awesome name.
Her brother was much more succinct: his band name was simply “Dog.” Kendall was ready to save the day, encouraging her brother to liven up his band name. She eventually did the heavy lifting, and changed his group to “The Fun Dogs.”
A young lady named Emma, citing her love of the ocean, named her band “Fish.” Hey, that one’s already taken! Luckily, after some prompting from her mom (who was, as I took it, less than impressed with the monosyllabic moniker Emma chose), she told me the name of her RockBand name: “The Vampire Bunnies.” We had a shared love of Bunnicula—good to know that book’s still being read.
My last interview of the day was with Maya. Without skipping a beat, she told me that her future band was to be called White Flower—like Recess Monkey, she has a nice homophone double meaning there! And according to her mother, Maya and her 5-month-old sister will both play tambourine, while Maya will also take care of lead vocals.
Recess Monkey really brought down the house—you should have heard the screams as the band and audience collectively jumped off of an imaginary, 100-foot high dive. As someone who hasn’t listened to Kindie music since replacing my Carole King “Really Rosie” cassette tape (!) with a Sound of Music CD, Recess Monkey and The Okee Dokee Brothers have been a great welcome to the genre. Hope to see you this weekend with Elizabeth Mitchell!
Text of this post © J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved.
Garden Concerts for Kids concludes this weekend, August 17 and 18, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., with Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower. Free, no reservations required, just roll on by.