Metro 167

Nearly four months into fatherhood and I am loving pretty much everything about it, apart from the constant nagging pull of anxiety as my brain concocts ever more fanciful scenarios where something goes wrong. It’s all right brain, I don’t need to be reminded of the horrors of life. I am more than aware of them, so you butting in to remind me of the gruesome disasters that could befall my helpless child is really not helping.

To counterbalance such horrors, Phoebe has properly started laughing at stuff now. As a comedian it is utterly fascinating to watch a sense of humour develop from scratch. Sometimes it’s hard to work out why my daughter finds something ridiculously amusing (and it’s usually only for a few minutes, at which point all the humour evaporates forever) but on other occasions it’s clear that this tiny human is gradually developing an appreciation of the absurd. Even though everything must seem pretty absurd when the world is this new.

We gave Phoebe some powder to ease teething pain (she is a placid and happy infant, so it’s horrible to see her in discomfort). So far in her life she had only eaten from a very limited smorgasbord: human milk (pervert), formula milk and Calpol. So this sachet of strange white dust was essentially her first solid.

As it made contact with her lips her face was a mask of confused disdain and my wife and I both really laughed. And then Phoebe laughed too. Perhaps it was just an infectious outbreak of giggling, but it really seemed that she got that what was happening was out of the ordinary and thus her reaction had been funny too. “Hey, what’s this? I only eat liquids, what’s going on here?.... what, you find it funny me spluttering and looking surprised? Yes I suppose it is…. What am I like with my reluctance to ingest powder? That’s so me.”

She didn’t get the additional joke that it made her look like an insane coke fiend, but it’s good when something works on two levels.

It’s hard work bringing up and being a baby and there are lots of times when patience is stretched and one of us throws our toys out of the pram (not always the baby either), but nothing beats the feeling of laughing together as a family. I hope we can do that at least once a day for the rest of our lives (or realistically my life).

I have spent all my life trying to make strangers laugh, but now my focus is very much on this audience of one. It’s much harder than writing a new 90 minute stand up show.

My most successful routine (as far as Phoebe is concerned) was me singing  “Frere Jacques” with most of the words changed to “ding” or “dong” (which I am assuming she is enjoying on an onomatopoeiac level, rather than euphemistically). She started chortling, kicking her legs and waving her arms with glee. Which made me laugh and cry simultaneously.

It was euphoric! It’s way better than sex (though

I am afraid you have to go through that hardship in order to create one of these happiness machines).

I won’t be using Phoebe as a comedy sounding board for my gigs though. I don’t think the Ding Dong song would go down well at the late show at the Comedy Store.

Phoebe’s laughter kept me walking on air all day. It’s pure and honest and she’s at a stage where laughter can’t be forced through politeness or pity.

This fragile baby is one tough crowd.