Continuing our “Masters of…” series, today we will be speaking of one of the wellsprings of junior high comedy. Art Linkletter, and then Bill Cosby, made a lot of money exploiting the nutty things little kids say. But in the answering a question you haven’t asked department, middle schoolers are the best. What makes a non-sequitur especially funny is when the person uttering it doesn’t realize his comment has nothing to do with what you’re talking about. Actually, in the case of middle schoolers, they just don’t care. Their specialty is answering a question with an unrelated question.

“So when your comparison uses the word like, or as, we call it a… What is it Efrain? You’ve had your hand up since I started.”

“What’s my grade?”


“The part of the story when Johnny and Dally die would be considered what part of the story, in litahrary terms?” (Looking for climax.)

“Can we watch that furniture video today?”


“Do you see the difference between having a reason in your essay that helps prove your point, and having an example that illustrates your reason? Yes, Emma?”

“When are we gonna get a new seating chart?”


“The warm up is 1-6, and you’ll need to show me your… What, Myron?”

“I saw you on your bike yesterday.”


“…the project is due next Tuesday, and I’ll have examples up on the board tomorrow for you to steal ideas from. Questions?”

“There’s a spider on the floor.”

or this one from today…

“…and you’ll have to choose option number three if you want to work with a partner. Questions?”

“What’s my name?”

(I tell them at the beginning of the year that I will give them a dollar if I mess up their name after Halloween. They alway like to test. It used to only take me three weeks.)

or the classic…

“This Friday we’ll be having an assembly schedule, and so…   What, Iris?

“Next Friday’s my birthday!”

(What is it about middle schoolers and birthdays? When someone says, “Blah blah’s my birthday,” it sets off a wave of, “Blah blah’s my mom’s birthday,” and “My birthday’s in three months/weeks/days,” and “My sister’s birthday is the day after blah blah; that’s so weird!” and so on, until I have to yell at them to stop. They all have this birthday obsession. Their year has like three real holidays: birthday, Halloween, and Christmas. Notice how they’re all associated with getting stuff without doing anything?)

…Are there any questions about today’s lesson?

“Do you have a band-aid?”

“Did I leave my planner here yesterday?”

“Today’s Wednesday?”

“I looked at my grade online, and it said that I got a 34/40 on Friday. I really got 35.”

“Can I get a drink?”

“Stevie took my pencil.”

“Which one’s your favorite class?”

“Can I go to the library? They said I owe .25, and I just found it.”

“My mom says I should ask you if I can make up anything.”

“What’d I miss?”

Nothing. Nothing at all.