What goes black, white, black, white, black, white, splash?
A penguin rolling down a hill into some water.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is the best joke my lovely husband has ever come up with. We were on holiday in a cottage in the Lake District with a 10 month old Toby at the time.
I love my husband, but even the people we love sometimes have habits that annoy us. Barry does this thing where he starts laughing out of nowhere but then won’t tell me what he’s laughing about. I don’t know why it winds me up so much but it does. This was one of those times, at first, but then he told me the joke and even though it’s a rubbish joke we both found it hilarious. And three and a half years later we still tell that joke, or variations on it when we need a laugh.
One of the things I really miss from our life pre-kids is going to comedy gigs. I think the first comedian I ever saw was Victoria Wood at the Opera House in Blackpool in about 1993 when I was 15. I didn’t see another live comedian though for probably 15 years or more. In the early 2000s I discovered Eddie Izzard and loved watching DVDs of his old tours. And then, in 2008 I saw a chap called Tim Minchin (you might have heard of him) on the Secret Policeman’s Ball singing a song called ‘If I didn’t have you’.
And I kind of fell in love a little bit. I think I have quite an obsessive personality sometimes. Like when I decide I like something I can’t leave it alone. I’ll watch the same film over and over again, or listen to the same song. When I was 16 I was so obsessed with the guy who played Benjamin in the tour of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat that I saw it 8 times and followed the show round the country.
You get the idea.
So I bought all the CDs of his shows that Tim Minchin had ever released and I listened to them on repeat. I joined his fan forum, and spent hours and hours chatting to other Tim Minchin fans, I made friends all over the country and even a few in America who I met up with when I went over there in 2010. I travelled around the UK going to his gigs – and I was lucky enough to become kind of a part of the inner circle of fans. We all knew each other, and Tim knew us. He would always talk to us after gigs, and I even got to go back stage and hang out in the green room with him after one show in Edinburgh.
But through my love of Tim Minchin I also discovered a whole host of other comedians – Mark Watson, Tim Key, Tom Basden, Daniel Kitson, Jon Richardson, Adam Hills, Johnny Sweet, Tony Law, Stuart Lee, Richard Herring… the list goes on. I saw so many comedy gigs over the next 5 years, some of them big names, some complete unknowns on a bill with 5 other comedians at a comedy club. I went to one of Mark Watson’s 24 hour shows and somehow through that ended up on stage with Adam Hills for the whole of his Edinburgh show!
And ultimately it was through our shared love of comedy that I met my husband. But we haven’t been to a comedy gig since before Toby was born. In fact we were due to go to The Stand in Edinburgh (if you’re ever in Edinburgh or Glasgow I would highly recommend The Stand for a night out) the night after my waters broke with Toby. He wasn’t born for another two days but needless to say we didn’t make it!
I doubt I’ll ever have another year where I go to 30 shows at the Edinburgh Festival, but I would like to go and see some live comedy again soon. One of these days my children will actually sleep and we can pack them off to Grandma’s house while we go out and laugh like we used to.
Have you ever been to a live comedy show? I’d love to know who your favourite comedians are – I’m so out of the loop now I bet there’s loads of new people I’ve never heard of!