Here’s a simple question. When was the last time I made Jessica laugh?
Last week? Last month? Get a grip. It was six or seven years ago. April Fool’s Day to be precise.
The day my beloved daughter ‘fell downstairs’ and I was on the point of rushing her to A&E.
Until she leapt to her feet. Laughing her head off.
Now she’s a teenager? Simple. I make a joke; my daughter sneers. Slightly more predictable than the sun rising.
Tom’s a little better. But not much.
The occasional joke about Man Utd’s midfield may make him smile. But only because he’s a Liverpool supporter.
(Have I ’fessed up to that one before? I have sired a Manchester United supporter and someone who thinks Jamie Carragher is intelligible. Was there ever a greater failure of parenting?)
A brief examination of Tom’s bedroom reveals a plethora of comedy DVDs – and I assume that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
He certainly won’t have confined his illegal downloads to Jason Bourne.
But his dad’s sense of humour? No thanks. Not really. Has he even got one?
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it.
Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome onstage my youngest son.
There are a million reasons why I love Ben. But front and centre is his sense of humour.
He’s 14 – and of course his sense of humour tends to the sarcastic.
And yes, I shall absolutely take a savage battering over the next few years.
But it also matches my sense of humour, and I absolutely love that. For this relief much thanks…
His favourite is Whose Line Is It Anyway? I claim full credit.
“You’ll enjoy this,” I said one day, introducing him to John Sessions, Mike McShane and Josie Lawrence.
A slightly double edged sword. I couldn’t get any work done for the next three months as he sat in the corner of the dining room cackling at YouTube.
“Phew,” we said, when he announced the end of the final series.
“Oh,” we said when he discovered the American version.
And apparently the American improv crossed the pond quite well.
There he sat for another three months laughing like a drain.
And when that version ended he’d forgotten the jokes from the British series…
He’s stayed loyal. I’ve sung the praises of Fawlty Towers and he’s tried a brief flirtation with Blackadder, but if he wants a really good laugh it’s always Whose Line…
“Dad, I’ve something to tell you,” he announced as we set off on Sunday’s dog walk.
“I’ve discovered a new series of Whose Line is it Anyway?”
“That’s brilliant. Where? Send me the link will you?”
“No, it’s not one I’ve missed. It’s new. The American people have made a new series.”
“No it isn’t. They’re old.”
“Well, we’re all older…”
“But they shouldn’t have done it. There comes a time when it’s too late. When you’re just not funny any more.”
Was he looking at me when he said that?
Was Ben gently hinting that my jokes were firmly mired in the Stone Age?
Especially now Jessica has been safely delivered to university and there’s just the two of us to entertain Jane at the dinner table.
There’s another small matter about Jessica going to uni.
We no longer have a teenage daughter in the next bedroom.
No more sly glances and feigned polite enquiries.
“I heard a noise last night. Was everything alright...”
My wife is looking remarkably attractive and there’s six years of sex to catch up on. Come to think of it, I may not have the energy for making jokes…