My daughter is almost two months old. These eight weeks have passed in a blurry haze and it’s been tough at times but I have enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. She’s started smiling now, which more than makes up for her screaming and waking me up in the middle of the night. In fact she seems to smile a lot more at about 5am, almost as if she knows the fresh Hell she is putting us through.
Whoever said having children makes a comedian safer and less dark is an idiot. Having a baby has filled my whole life with fear and totally destroyed all illusion that the world is safe or fair. Whenever I take Phoebe outside I think of all the terrible things that could go wrong: from cars mounting the pavement to my baby being speared by a stalagmite of frozen urine that has fallen from a plane. I realise how little control we have over anything, that the safety we felt in the company of our own parents was totally illusory. I know I am anticipating all possible disasters so I can be prepared for them. But if I’m looking out for frozen spears of urine hurtling to the ground, surely I am risking more likely and mundane accidents. My mum once told me that when you’ve got kids, however blue the sky is there is always a cloud on the horizon and I get that now. It’s a terrifying responsibility.
Yet somehow it’s the best fun being in the thrall of this mini-dictator. I became a stand-up comedian so that I could be the centre of attention, but now I realise that I should have become a baby instead. Everyone is enchanted by everything Phoebe does. If I spent all afternoon at my in-laws letting off, belching and peeing my pants I think they’d quickly get annoyed with me. But she gets big laughs just for pulling a funny face. My stuff is way more sophisticated than that…
I think being a comedian has has helped me cope with the more rigorous elements of baby minding. I view my daughter as a very persistent heckler that I am unable to swear at. As a man who has made much mileage from the comedy of repetition it is perhaps a fitting punishment that my child tests my patience in similar ways.
Her own brand of performance art could win a Turner prize thanks to its raw bleakness, as she screams into the void. But I am determined not to be broken by her. Even when she threw up her entire dinner over me in the middle of the night, I managed to laugh it off. If let the baby get to me then she has won. I know she will definitely win in the end - I am so smitten with her that I know I will do anything she wants – but I want to delay her victory. And her occasional indignant anger at the world is pretty hilarious. She doesn’t seem to realise that as a baby life is about as good as it’s going to get, with servants to attend to your every whim. If you think things are tough now, sweetheart….
I’ve never wanted to make an audience laugh more, though she usually views me with bewildered scepticism. I am improvising A-grade songs and puppet shows for her, but she doesn’t appreciate them. The good news is that when you’re a dad your jokes are meant to be a bit crap, which was always a drawback in comedy clubs.
The curse of the world’s oldest person has struck again. First we lost 117-year-old Misao Okawa, then just five days after receiving this poisoned chalice, 116-year-old Gertrude Weaver passed on. I wouldn’t like to be the newest oldest person, Jeralean Talley. She must be pissing herself. For so many reasons.
And thanks to @Chem2006 who provided me with this amazing fact. Tenth President of the USA, John Tyler, (born in 1790) has two living grandsons... Mindblowing!