One of the reasons I love having kids, and working with kids, is because kids are naturally funny. I don’t think adults laugh enough. If we all laughed a bit more we’d all have better abs. Fact. When you laugh things happen in your brain and body (technical term) and you feel great. So we should all spend more time laughing, and I mean proper belly laughing until you feel like you’re going to cry/puke/blow off/wet yourself (most likely all of these if you’ve recently experienced child birth).
Kids make you laugh a lot. And as they get older they become genuinely funny. You have these belly laugh moments more and more and find what they say truly funny….Which is a bloody good job actually because the rest of the time they’re driving you straight towards the large bottle of gin on the kitchen shelf.
I’ve been rather fascinated over the last few months at how Phoenix has turned the dial on his ‘funny knob’, switching from natural to scripted humour… (yeah I’m leaving ‘funny knob’ in the post only because its a post about humour. Clearly that didn’t quite materialise into the neat little metaphor I was hoping for)
Since he’s started school he’s become more aware of his funny-powers and has started to to engineer his jokes. He got off to a rocky start going through a period of ‘laughter stropping’. This meant if people really laughed out loud in response to him he would pout his lip and storm off shouting and crying ‘Its NOT funny!’. As an audience member this is fairly tricky to deal with. On the one hand you are amused and want to reward your entertainer with the glorious reward of laughter, but then you’re aware this will result in actual tears. Its a real mind warp which can leave you choking on your own laughter. Fortunately we seem to have moved on from this now after some late night chats explaining why its a good thing when your jokes actually work i.e. people laugh.
Then we progressed into the ‘scripted joke’ phase. School brings with it ‘class clowns’ and I can see he’s being influenced by joke tellers in his class. I personally had never told him an actual joke before school (Im naturally funny so don’t need to resort them..obvs.), so he didn’t pick these up from us. But he’s still some way from figuring out the whole concept of a joke. Instead he prefers to take the format of traditional jokes e.g. ‘knock knock’ etc but apply weird, psychedelic story based lines featuring pizzas, policemen and whatever is within a 5m radius of his eye line (usually trees and lamposts).
All are delivered with the upmost enthusiasm and he usually finds himself in hysterics around the same time he reaches the end of the punchline. We’re working on this. From a comedy perspective he does come across as slightly egotistical about his own funniness.
He had some fine comedy moments on holiday. Here we saw a new comedic angle, where he took a risk, showed no fear and just went for a few one liners that were massive hits. One such time I was hyper-thirsty, and he was watching in disbelief as I drank a massive glass of water without stopping. Once I’d finished he shouted for the whole restaurant to hear:
“MUM, I’LL TELL EVERYONE YOU’RE A DRINKER!”
I thought this worked on many levels, mainly because it was a 4 year old making a joke about his potentially alcoholic mother. But also because at the time this may have been potentially true. I was on holiday.
The other time I was feeding Indy and all was calm and normal, and he just came out with:
“FEED HER LIKE A DUCK!”
I thought this was a great one liner. Mainly because I have no idea where it came from. And also because trying to feed her like a duck was actually really funny, and made us laugh even more.
Sometimes we’ll walk into town telling jokes the whole way. It starts off fun but by the end there really are only so many scenarios pizzas, lampposts and policeman can get themselves into.
But may I take the time here to make a plug for myself, and highlight some completely off the cuff, MADE UP jokes, that whilst under pressure, I have scripted on the spot:
“What did the policeman say to the triplets?”
Ello, Ello, Ello
This one is now a firm favourite frequently requested by Phoenix. He has no idea what triplets are or that policeman say ‘ello, ello, ello’ (which they don’t), but instead says: ‘Mum do that one about the policeman and the twiglets!’. Sigh. It’s a tough crowd.
“What did the doctor say to the apple?”
How you peeling?
Phoenix has never eaten a peeled apple in his life. I’m not sure he knows what apple peel is. He politely responded to this one by saying, ‘mum do you mean feeling, not peeling?’. Sigh. It’s a tough crowd.
“Why was the toast working so late at night?
He was doing his spreadsheets.
Ok ok. Look it gets hard, it really does. When you’re just trying to get home, you have bags of shopping, you’re sending an email, you all the need loo and at the same time you have a 4 year old making you perform stand up on the go, its hard. No he does not know what a spreadsheet is. And yes he pointed out that pieces of toast don’t do work, to which I pointed out pizzas don’t walk.
It’s an experimental time for us both.
And so I will leave you with this, a short video captured at dinner on holiday which highlights another experimental technique. I call it: ‘the never ending punchline’