The comedy of despair – heard the one about the baby in the blender?


In my first job in journalism I worked with two young men, who flatly refused to let me write comedy. That was their province. I could write the worthy stuff about education (the magazine was aimed at students).

I didn’t even really mind, although they weren’t very kind about it. Comedy seemed a foreign language to me. I was angry a lot and thought the world needed setting to rights, probably by me.

I still don’t feel as though comedy is my country. At best I’m a recent immigrant here.

I worship Tina Fay, Amy Sedaris and Miranda Hart (I’m the nonposh, nonboarding school Miranda, okay?)

Tina Fay’s memoir, Bossypants, ought to be a set text for all teenage girls. It’s funny and generous and if only I’d known.

But I didn’t. I tilted at the windmill of serious journalism and got caught in the sails. All of a sudden I was way up high. I landed at home with children.

The constant mismatch between my aims (to watch CSI sofa, gossip, go for a walk) and their aims (to watch the Teletubbies, talk to me about themselves, to prod one puddle, slowly, with a stick) infuriated and depressed me.  But I quickly realised that the other mothers didn’t find my complaints acceptable or interesting.

They were living their dreams and didn’t want to hear someone detailing why these were inadequate and awful.

Besides, they were right, being a mother is a fine thing to be and some women are utterly fulfilled by it. I was so envious of them.

Until one day, I realised, when the sleeplessness had passed, that I’d started enjoying it too. Now I know that I’m hugely indebted to my children – and no, I don’t live in Stepford.

All the struggle of their early years forced me to find a way of talking to the women around me that was more palatable to them.

Humour was, if not a solution, then at least a bridge. On the days that I could laugh about my many predicaments, I found more friends. Soon I was turning my whole life into a funny story.

This was probably quite damaging in some ways. But it did teach me what gets a laugh and what doesn’t. It taught me how to find the world funny and communicate the humour.

Two years ago I came second in a short-story competition (have I mentioned that?) with a comic piece, even though my tutor had told me that it’s ‘almost impossible’ to win anything with comedy. He was one of the judges, and, hilariously, said he’d been ‘very surprised’ to find my name in the envelope. Ha ha.

Now, a twitter friend who I like and whose writing I intend to copy and trademark, Fran Lewis, the inestimable @motherventing on twitter,  has awarded me the LOL Award (insert drum roll, trumpets optional). I am so delighted that this woman, who I really rate,  rates my writing. She’s not just funny, she’s clever and thoughtful, so I’m proud. You can read  her blog here. Thank you Fran. Consider yourself kissed gratefully on the cheek (on your face).

Here’s the logo to prove that I’ve got the award:

Who do I find funny?

Nic Alderton’s Blog

Hyperbole and a Half

I read these two and think I should probably give up. But at least I’ve had a laugh before I smash my keyboard.

The joke? You can decide who it’s on. One of the two young men who stomped on my early comedy efforts is now a senior political commentator. I, on the other hand, am an award-winning comedy-writer, yeah?

PS. The children love the one about the baby in the blender: what’s red and goes round and round really fast?

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Posted in Writing
5 comments on “The comedy of despair – heard the one about the baby in the blender?
  1. If Motherventing admires you, you must be worth a look. And she’s right! You put that brilliantly and I entirely share your sentiments. Strangely, I occasionally find childcare a wee bit boring because my 7 and 9-year-old have lost interest in puddles, teddy picnics and Angelina Ballerina and I haven’t!

  2. I am going to get that Tina Fey book X

  3. justinbog says:

    All of the writers I know would love (or possibly do something a little bit more suspenseful if this was a Hollywood movie) to have just a small portion of your creative mindset, Cathy. And, further, I always love to share your terrific, and, at times, LOL, Posts with as many of my friends as possible. Excellent Award ~hands over polishing wax~ 🙂

  4. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Thanks so much Justin. 🙂

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