Little Jokester Gets Published

Los Feliz’s Mateo Justin Hargrove, 3, is now a published comedic writer. Photo: Brian Chernick.

A comedic star is born in Los Feliz.

Mateo Justin Hargrove, 3, is the area’s newest and youngest breakout star, having recently made his comedic writing debut in the children’s book Little Book—Big Laughs published by the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation.

Mateo—along with other children across the nation—submitted jokes to the foundation in hopes of being selected for publication.

And he was.

Mateo’s joke tickled the funny bone of the foundation’s staff enough to be published along with other young comedic writers.

The fame hasn’t gotten to him just yet. He is still shy and bashful and finds joy in playpens with zip-lines and eating ice cream.

The genesis of Mateo’s now-published joke came last year, when his preschool class at Hollywood Presbyterian Children Center was rehearsing for a holiday performance of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

While singing along, Mateo discovered the value of wordplay and later incorporated it his now published joke, using the classic “knock, knock” framework.

“Knock, knock!”

“Who’s there?”


“Hannah, who?”

“Hannah Partridge in a pear tree!”

“He loves to make up jokes,” said Mark Abulencia, Mateo’s father. “I guess it was really in his head and one day we were rehearsing [the song] … “and he sang ‘Hannah Partridge in a pear tree,’” instead of the usual line: And a partridge in a pear tree.

Both of Mateo’s parents, Mark and Michael Hargrove said they are proud their son’s sense of humor has been recognized.

The foundation’s joke books are part of a series—Cool Jokes For Summer, Eats, Treats & Sweets and Birthday, Holiday & Celebration, which features Mateo’s joke.

The books were released in September, coinciding with National Literacy Month.

The publications are part of an effort by the healthcare’s foundation to spread awareness of their services, including offering families financial assistance for medical costs for their children. Book proceeds go toward helping those families.

“The response has been great,” said UnitedHealthcare spokesperson Will Holman. “Kids are very excited to be published authors and proceeds,” are vital for families struggling with the high costs of healthcare.

Last year the foundation awarded funds to over 60 California families each averaging $2,200.

According to Holman, the foundation has awarded over 12,000 grants totaling over $35 million in the last 10 years.

Families looking to apply for grants can visit

The joke books can be purchased on the website as well.

“As a father of two children you learn first hand and early on about how important healthcare is for your family,” Holman said. “We want to get the word out that grants are available in addition to providing laughs.”


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