I don't wish to blow my own trumpet too loudly but - and I think everyone who knows me will concur - I am one hilarious little pre-schooler.
Although traditional jokes aren’t yet my thing (I’m working on one with Gramps concerning a dog which is unlucky enough to have no nose, but it’s not ready for public consumption just yet), I have a wide spectrum of other laugh-making mechanisms which more than fill the set up/punchline gap.
Funny faces, uncanny impressions, silly noises, observations straight out of leftfield (‘When I do this (life) again, I’m going to be a giraffe. I love trees’) and an in-built sense of comic timing, which cannot be taught, combine to make me a shoe-in for anyone’s dream tea party guest list, under the category of ‘joker’.
I’m also hoping to graduate from the school of funny walks in the not too distant, so even my arrival at the party will be guaranteed to set everyone off.
I know I’m not alone. Loads of my friends crack me up on a regular basis. Cousin Mimi is a particular treat. She has an imagination and gift for storytelling which belies her birth certificate. Meanwhile my tight-knit nursery girlfriend crew have oodles of sketch-troupe potential. They are an absolute hoot.
What a great gift it is to be able to make people laugh... and according to Big Bro Fred (who is no slouch in the comedy department either) there are actual jobs available.
Imagine that. Getting paid for being the one who provokes the best sound in the world.
The only downside I can see to this profession is that it seems you have to stand up the whole time, which would take some getting used to. But I’m here to learn.
Wait until you hear this though. Being a girl apparently used to be a downside in itself.
If you can believe it, for years and years people were seriously asking the question: Are girls funny? in an attempt to explain the ridiculous imbalance when it came to the boy/girl split of comedians.
New figures out this week showed that the gulf between them is still laughable (but not really). Just 14% of overall ticket sales from the Ticketmaster (they sound important don’t they?) were related to shows put on by girl comedians.
Depressing though that undoubtedly is, we should perhaps take heart from the fact that it was 2% five years ago (although that’s a bit like taking heart from the fact there has to be a rule dictating that there has to be at least one woman on every panel show).
One of the top girls in the business is from just down the road. Sarah Millican from South Shields (where the funnest of fun fairs is). is one of the best-selling comedian who is a girl. Nice job, funny lass.
Mind you, while it’s undoubtedly great to celebrate the increasing success of the stand up ladies, I do think it will be better all round when it’s not necessary to make the distinction.
I Now Know...
... not everything that happens in cartoons is funny. Anyone wanting to watch Tom and Jerry on Amazon Prime Instant Video will be greeted by a warning message before the film that reads “Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.” The message has divided opinion like one of Wile E. Coyote’s rockets fired into the middle of a crowd of Road Runners. Part of me thinks that if they’re depicting such nonsense, maybe they should put them away in a museum or something. I also would like to see the cat win once in a while.
... walking the plank is the easy option. This week Chinese policeman Mao Weidong smashed the world record for planking, a tummy-tearing exercise where you rest on your elbows and toes. Needing only to beat three hours and seven minutes to enter the record books, Mao lasted an unbelievable four hours and 26 minutes (a whole four hours, 25 minutes and 15 seconds more than Mum’s current PB). It later transpired he picked this time because April 26 was his wife’s birthday… bet he wouldn’t have been so sentimental if she’d been born in December.
... Mike Ashtray stands by his staff, for now. Would your boss keep you in your job if every single person within 30 miles of your office thought you were incompetent, and every week 50,000 people came to your place of work to hurl abuse at you? Nope? Well you need to get a job at Sports Direct this Christmas. Based on Alan Pardon’s performance as NUFC manager during 2014, you could swap the tennis rackets with the golf clubs, close the shop at lunchtime every Friday and even head butt the odd customer, and still not get your marching orders. What a boss!
... karaoke is stacks of fun. Against all odds Daddy managed to get some new batteries for my brother’s old sing-a-long CD player before my 18th Birthday, and so this week I’ve been belting out Let It Go, and other hits from the Frozen soundtrack at maximum volume. And if you’re struggling for the words don’t worry about it, “La la la la la la la la la!” is a more than acceptable substitute for the actual lyrics if you sing it loud enough. Thanks again Dad.
A Gold Star for... The Banks Children
Every week I award a gold star to a child of my choosing. The child in question may be real or fictional, historic or current, and the award may be for a specific act or a wider body of work. Basically they are my stars and I’ll give them to whoever I choose, assuming I don’t stick them all to the lounge telly first.
There aren’t many films my older brother and I both like, so when we do agree on one it often enjoys an extended run in our front room.
For the last fortnight or so Mary Poppins has been dominating proceedings, and as she’s practically perfect in every way, she could be there for a while yet.
In fact the only thing that ever threatens to temper our enjoyment of the film is Daddy’s insistence on doing terrible impressions of Dick Van Dyke’s equally terrible cockney accent.
To try and divert his attention I asked the seemingly innocuous question “Whatever happened to the children in Mary Poppins Daddy?”
I was expecting the usual “He went on to play a car salesman in Eastenders, and she did some voiceover work and adverts” but the actual story, which dad found after consulting his phone obviously, was far more moving.
Karen Dotrice was eight years old and Matthew Garber was seven when they were cast as Jane and Michael Banks. They had already worked together on a film called The Three Lives Of Thomasina, and were just what Walt Disney was looking for to play the mischievous brother and sister.
After Mary Poppins they played brother and sister again in The Gnome Mobile and then tragedy struck when Matthew died at 21 after being poorly for a long time with a rotten disease called hepatitis.
Karen, Garber’s co-star in every film he ever made, was heartbroken, and said of him “He was how he looked — an imp, and I loved being his shadow. I can’t imagine making movies would have been half as much fun without him.”
Karen didn’t make any more movies as a child, but did work again in spells as a grown up, including a part in something called Upstairs Downstairs, which mummy tells me was a prequel to Downton Abbey, which I like to call Fancy Dress Gone Too Far.