365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Greatest Birthday Party on Earth

(Photo from thefarmgirlgabs.com)

“Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages…welcome to “The Greatest Birthday Party on Earth!” The circus is about to begin! 

Let our joy-givers lead you to the three-rings of clowning and amazing feats of wizardry in Downtown Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Barnum Museum. This is the last surviving building fantastically imagined and created by the American visionary entrepreneur and grand showman, Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum. 


You feel the joy the minute we approach the museum and hear the whistling happiness of the steam-powered calliope circus organ playing: “In the Good Ole Summertime,” and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” Now, the ringmistress booms into her megaphone, “HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said. By the way, we’re about midyear in this series and this is the first installment that is all one gender. Otherwise, there is notable diversity in this jumble of joy-givers. I promise to make up for the “boys club” salute in some fun ways in the coming months.) 


July 3—TOM CRUISE (Thomas Cruise Mapother IV) is an actor, film produce and one of the highest-grossing box office stars of all time. He has earned three Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe Awards nominations. His hit films include: “Risky Business,” “Top Gun,” “The Color of Money,” “Rain Man,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “A Few Good Men,” “The Firm,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Interview with a Vampire,” “Magnolia” and “Mission Impossible I, II, III, IV, V…XV.” 

July 4—NEIL SIMON was an American playwright, screenwriter and author born on the Fourth of July. He wrote more than 30 plays and almost as many movie screenplays—mostly film adaptations of his own plays. He received more Oscars and Tonys than any other writer. His works include: “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “Sweet Charity,” “Plaza Suite,” “Promises, Promises,” “Rumors,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “The Goodbye Girl” and “Only When I Laugh.” He was the only living playwright to have a Broadway theater venue named after him–the former Alvin Theatre is the Neil Simon Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize winner also received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. 

July 5—P.T. BARNUM is widely credited with coining the adage, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” though there’s actually no proof he ever said this. “Real proof” wasn’t essential for this master showman, businessman, author, politician and philanthropist. He is remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and human curiosities. He established “P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome” which became the Barnum & Bailey Circus—“The Greatest Show on Earth.” He was “The Greatest Showman.” 

July 6—KEVIN HART is a stand-up comedian, actor and producer listed in “Time” magazine’s 2015 roster of “The 100 Most-Influential People in the World.” The 5’4,” self-deprecating funny man rocketed to fame with his first stand-up comedy album, “I’m a Grown Little Man” in 2008. In 2017, Hart launched the “Laugh Out Loud Network,” a subscription video streaming service. 

July 7—SATCHEL PAIGE (Leroy Robert Paige) was one of professional baseball’s most popular and entertaining players. Born in Mobile, Alabama, the right-handed pitcher delighted fans with such playful antics as getting his teammates to sit down on the field when he suspected he could strike a batter out. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971. 

July 8—PHILLIP JOHNSON was an architect best known for his sleek modern and imaginatively post-modern creations. His legacy includes the modernist “Glass House” in New Canaan, Connecticut and the post-modernist AT&T headquarters at 550 Madison Avenue, NYC. In a sea of skyscraper sameness, Johnson added a joy-giving “Chippendale chest top” to the AT&T building and altered not just the city’s skyline, but American architectural history forever. He was the first to receive the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize. 

July 9—TOM HANKS is an actor and filmmaker. He is known for both comedic and dramatic roles. He is one of the most popular and recognizable film stars on the globe. His films acted include: “Big,” “Splash,” “A League of Their Own,” “Philadelphia,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Apollo 13,” “The Green Mile,” “Cast Away,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Toy Story (voice of Sheriff Woody),” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and on and on and joyfully on. Hanks has received two Oscars, seven Emmys, a Tony, a Kennedy Center Honor and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Oh, and he was given the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and, ooh-la-la, the French Legion of Honor. 


“I’ve spent many birthdays on a movie set, all great days.”—Tom Cruise 

“As a kid, I was constantly being dragged out of movie theatres for laughing too loud.”—Neil Simon 

“The noblest art is that of making others happy.”—P.T. Barnum 

“Laughter heals all wounds, and that’s one thing that everybody shares…I am an angel. I was sent here by God to heal.”—Kevin Hart 

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”—Satchel Paige 

“I hate vacations. If you can build buildings, why sit on the beach?”—Phillip Johnson 

“…childish, selfish, immature—that’s right, I am. But, do you know how much money I make for thinking this way?”—Tom Hanks 

“Times will change for the better when you change.”—Tom Cruise 

“I understand. You work very hard two days a week and you need a five-day weekend. That’s normal.”—Neil Simon 

“No man ever went broke overestimating the ignorance of the American public.”—P.T. Barnum 

“An unemployed court jester is nobody’s fool.”—Kevin Hart 

“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.”—Satchel Paige 

“Architecture is the art of how to waste space.”—Phillip Johnson 

“You learn more from getting your butt kicked than getting it kissed.”—Tom Hanks 

“Nothing ends nicely, that’s why it ends.”—Tom Cruise 

“Don’t listen to those who say you are taking too big a chance. Michelangelo would’ve painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today.”—Neil Simon 

“The common man, no matter how sharp and tough, actually enjoys having the wool pulled over his eyes, and makes it easier for the puller.”—P.T. Barnum 

“It is a well-known fact that tall people are evil.”—Kevin Hart 

“Ain’t no man can avoid being average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.”—Satchel Paige 

“My pitching philosophy is simple—keep the ball away from the bat.”—Satchel Paige 

“Architects are like high-class whores. We can turn down some projects the way prostitutes can turn down some clients, but we’ve both got to say yes to someone if we want to stay in business.”—Phillip Johnson 

“Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are.”—Tom Hanks 

“I am passionate about learning. I am passionate about life.”—Tom Cruise 

“All humor is based on hostility—that’s why World War II was so funny.”—Neil Simon 

“You can fool most of the people most of the time.”—P.T. Barnum 

“I’m myself 24/7…My son is becoming me—just a silly, silly prankster guy.”—Kevin Hart 

“Avoid fried foods which angry up the blood.”—Satchel Paige 

“All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts or stimulates the persons in that space.”—Phillip Johnson 

“If you’re funny, if there’s something that makes you laugh, then every day is going to be okay.”—Tom Hanks 

“I got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches. It’s either very new cheese or very old meat.” (spoken by Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple”)—Neil Simon 

“I got everything from someone. Nobody can be original.”—Phillip Johnson 

“A hero is someone who voluntarily walks into the unknown.”—Tom Hanks 


APPETIZER—Neil Simon Odd Couple Bacon and Banana Waffles (allrecipes.com) 

SOUP—P.T. Barnum Most Super-Duper July 4th Turtle Soup Ever on Earth (delish.com) 

ENTRÉE—Satchel Paige Southern Not-Fried Chicken (thereciperebel.com) 

SIDE DISH—Tom Cruise Mission Beans Impossible (tasteofhome.com) 

BREAD—Kevin Hart Grown Little Savory Shortbread (marthastewart.com) 

BEVERAGE—Tom Hanks Green Mile Cocktails (see below) 

DESSERT—Phillip Johnson Gingerbread Houses (bestgingerbreadhouses.com) 

ONE TO GROW ON—Check out Kevin Hart’s comedy streaming subscription channel at laughoutloud.com . Some of this humor is totally NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT and is often blue—but, and this is a big “but,”–it’s often hilarious. The succinct mission statement for this joy-giving venture is: “WE EXIST TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH.” 

“The Greatest Birthday Party on Earth” finale has a toast from P.T. Barnum—“Every crowd has a silver lining.” Then, the circus calliope whistles “The Birthday Song” and an encore with everyone singing along—“In the good old summertime. In the good old summertime. Strolling through a shady lane with your baby mine. You hold her hand and she holds yours, and that’s a very good sign. That she’s your tootsy-wootsy in the good old summertime.” 


                           TOM HANKS GREEN MILE COCKTAIL 

                               (source: makemeacocktail.com) 


2 parts brandy 

1 part ginger ale 

1 lime popsicle 


Pour all liquids in a pitcher that is ¼ filled with ice. Stir with a Popsicle and leave it in the pitcher to chill and add flavor. Remember to remove Popsicle stick, then serve. 

Copyright 2021 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Ben South