Someone recently asked me a very simple question that I have been thinking about a lot lately. It wasn’t a question that would really change the world, and it wasn’t a question that men have pondered for generations, but it was a question that has replayed in my mind over and over again. The question was, “If you could meet any five people in the world, who would they be?” When the question was asked, I didn’t have to give it much thought. I quickly rattled off the five names of the people I would most like to meet. Those five people were: Doris Day, Joanna Gaines, Kelly Ripa, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton.
Like all good questions, there was a follow up question: “Why those five people?” Now, I have to admit, this is the question that I have been thinking a lot about. I answered not long after the question was asked, but I have continued to think about why I said those five people. What is it about these people that I am drawn to? What do they have in common? What makes them special? I am going to do my best to answer those questions, and hopefully I will learn a little bit more about myself in the process.
The very first time I saw Kelly Ripa was on Thanksgiving Day 1990. The actually date was November 22nd. I was watching my favorite daytime drama, All My Children, when Kelly Ripa burst on to the scene wearing a jet black, long wig and clothes to match. Looking back on it now, it seems like an unlikely “meeting” of someone whom I would eventually come to admire and who would land on my top five people I would like to meet list, but that was my first introduction to Kelly Ripa.
I had been watching All My Children since 1978. For those of you trying to figure out how old I was, I will save you the time doing the math; I was five years old. My mom would watch All My Children when she ate lunch, and since I was not yet in school, I would watch right along with her. Seems like a strange thing for a five-year-old little boy to watch, but I really did love the show. It was a love that lasted until the show was cancelled in 2011. I literally grew up watching All My Children, and as far as I can tell no damage was done.
Anyway, I digress so let’s get back to Kelly Ripa. Kelly’s character, Haley Vaughn, became one of my favorite characters to watch, and I was not alone. Haley was a very popular character on the show, and she and I were about the same age. Kelly is actually 2 years and one month older than I am. She was born on October 2, 1970 and I was born on November 2, 1972. I watched Kelly for over ten years as Haley Vaughn, and saw her face some harrowing situations, but I always pulled for her. I would videotape All My Children, and it was the first thing I would watch when I return from high school, then college, and then teaching. All My Children and Kelly Ripa were constants in my life and something I could always depend on, and watching that show, as strange as it may sound, brought me a lot of joy and peace.
Then on November 1, 2000, I was able to see a different side of Kelly Ripa. This was the first time that she co-hosted Live! with Regis Philbin. I was amazed by what I saw. Kelly was hilarious. She was friendly, welcoming, and quick-witted. She made the television screen explode in a way that I had never seen anyone else do. I loved her sense of humor and laughed out loud repeatedly, something that I rarely do when I am watching television.
I think Regis Philbin summed it up perfectly in is autobiography, How I Got This Way. He said:
“There was one guest we'd had on with us a few years before who had [a certain sparkle]. Hers was a natural, quick-witted, unaffected, confident, fun-loving kind of sparkle that both Gelman and I remembered very well. We decided to invite her back, this time to consider her as a possible co-host. So that was when this smiling, petite ball of fire named Kelly Ripa made her return to Live! for a test run at the rotating, up-for-grabs hot seat to my left. And my God, who knew what spontaneous combustion we'd make together?”
On February 5, 2001, Kelly become the permanent co-host on Live! and soon I began taping the show just to see more of Kelly Ripa. I cannot tell you how much joy watching Kelly on Live! gave me. There were many evenings when I was single and living alone that I would come home from school and watch Kelly and Regis. She truly made me laugh. I love people who can make me laugh, and Kelly has the type of sense of humor that I love the most. She can be sarcastic and dry. She has a quick comeback to any of the guests or the hosts with whom she is paired. Seeing her and watching her on television just makes me smile.
Thinking about it now, I realize that her sense of humor and comedic timing reminded me of my grandma. Seeing Kelly exchange witty comments with people reminds me of the relationship that my grandma and I had. We were always trying to “one-up” each other and nothing made us happier than when we could make each other laugh.
I am not certain if I will ever meet Kelly Ripa, but if I do, you can bet I will tell her all about my grandma and the laughter that she brought into my life. I will also thank Kelly for all the laughter that she brought into my life. That is the thing that many of us forget. God equipped us with a sense of humor and gave us the ability to laugh, because He knew that having that ability would make life so much easier and a lot more fun. When we laugh and see the humor in the world, we will have more peace in our hearts and PEACE MATTERS!