Mystic man brings humor to his neighborhood with 'dad jokes'
Mystic — Bill Furgueson is working to bring humor and human connection to his neighborhood — one “dad joke” at a time.
Furgueson, who lives on the corner of Edgecomb Street and Pequot Avenue, said he installed a dad joke board on his lawn to bring a smile to people’s faces during the COVID-19 pandemic. He writes a new joke there each day and encourages people to honk if they like the joke.
He said he came up with the idea earlier this year after friends shared a story of a man in Maryland who was very social and was feeling down due to the social isolation during the pandemic. The man decided to create a dad joke board, which his neighborhood rallied behind.
Furgueson, who works at the Mystic Museum of Art, said he also missed the social interaction from work and could relate. His friends encouraged Furgueson, who enjoys puns, to create a similar board in Mystic.
So Furgueson, a father to two college-aged children, took a large piece of plywood and painted it with chalkboard paint donated from a former student of his who is now a teacher in Stonington. Each morning, rain or shine, Furgueson writes a new “dad joke” on the sign outside of his home for his neighbors and people passing by to read. He mines the internet for deliberately corny jokes, consults with friends or comes up with the puns on his own.
The top of the sign says, “Everyone deserves to smile” and “Dad Joke of the Day.” The sign has featured jokes such as:
“What did the 0 say to the 8? Nice belt.”
“Thank God it is Tuesday. Because Sunday is such a sad day. But the day before Sunday is a 'sadder day.'”
“Went to an archaeology party where they were looking for a lower leg. It was quite the shindig.”
“Why did the smartphone need to get glasses? It lost its contacts.”
The bottom of the sign says, “Give a honk if this made you smile.”
He said people come up to him when he’s cutting the lawn and give him a thumbs-up or double honk. A family with two young girls often rides their bikes or scooters to see the sign, and the girls stop to yell “Honk, Honk, Honk.”
He said people walking their dog or taking a walk will tell him they like the jokes or playfully rib him about how the jokes are "groan worthy,” while people have changed their bike routes to see the sign. He recently received in the mail a $25 gift card to McDonald's from an anonymous neighbor who said they were enjoying the daily jokes.
Neighbor Geoff Gordon said he reads the jokes every day and gets a good chuckle. He said the board is indicative of the kind of person Furgueson is.
“He takes a lot of initiative for building community in the neighborhood and in the greater Mystic neighborhood,” he said.
His son, Tate, 14, said the board is fun to look at, and he sees it when he goes on walks or runs, or when he and his friends walk downtown. He said the board helped him when he felt stressed during the pandemic and went out for a walk. The joke of the day gave him a little “fresh start” and made him feel a little happier.
“I think that it’s just a great way to spread some positivity to the neighborhood, and I think it’s fun for everyone,” he said. “It’s just a cool thing to get a little laugh about.”
Longtime friend and neighbor John Casey said he stops to read the joke each day and will honk his horn or joke around and playfully boo him. He said he’s heard more than one family say they’re going to ride their bikes or scooters to the joke sign.
“It’s nice to have something that brings a smile to my face and has had such a positive response in the neighborhood,” Casey said.
Paul Berkel, another neighbor who remembers telling dad jokes to his own kids, said that not only does Furgueson post the jokes but he also asks people to honk if they like them. He said that brings smiles to people’s faces, particularly if they live close enough, like he does, to hear the horns honking.
“I think what he’s doing more than anything is to bring some levity to a difficult time for everybody,” he said.
Furgueson said seeing the laughter the jokes have brought to others has given him a new sense of happiness.
He said it makes him happy when he is changing the dad joke, and someone comes up to him to tell him the joke board is a source of “constant happiness,” in this time of uncertainty — which is exactly what he wanted them to have.
“It’s just brought the whole neighborhood a little closer and interacting in a safe way,” he said.
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