What makes a kid laugh? Pea soup, blushing tomatoes and Europeans...
“Mommy, mommy… knock, knock?”
Ah yes. Our house is firmly in the grip of kiddy joke fever at the moment. You can’t sneak into the kitchen for a quick cuppa without getting cornered by a son with a giant joke book, named something appropriately frightening like 20 000 Jokes for Kids.
“Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing! Geddit? Geddit? The salad is nekkid! Nekkid!” Ben will shriek from behind the unwieldy well-thumbed book, before doubling over in mirth, in that just-about-to-pee-himself stance little boys do so well.
Just watching him is enough to make me want to pee myself. (But then, that’s not saying so much. I have had 2 children.)
We are especially big into jokes which involve nudity and toilets. I have noticed that for children there are 2 types of nudity. ‘Nekkid’ is when you are caught in your undies. ‘Totally nekkid’ is when you get caught getting out of the shower. Both are double-over funny, in and of themselves. Coupled with a joke, well. Hysteria abounds.
Now, I have always been fond of the odd joke. I also come from a very funny family. My younger brother Sean is a stand-up comedian. My older brother Quentin is the funniest of the three of us, mostly I think because he writes banking software for a living, and there’s just so much humour he can get out of his system into code. We have spent our lives trying to outdo each other with graphic and revoltingly complicated insults, as well as running an ongoing series of niched joke competitions.
My mother is currently winning the Violently Lame Joke competition. (You know the one about the snail who wanted to paint an S on his Ferrari? Yup. He wanted other people to say, “Wow! Look at that S car go!” It is a winner, isn’t it?) I am winning the Joke No-one Else Thinks Is Funny competition. (“If a mime falls out of a tree in a forest, does he make a sound?” I mean, please people. It is the funniest joke EVER. Why have I never, ever managed to make anyone else think so?)
All this considered, you can understand why I am really psyched for this kiddy stage. Licence to let rip with my childish, eye-wateringly unsophisticated sense of humour? Hurrah!
Andreas? Not so much.
“But I already know that joke, Joey,” he’ll explain patiently, after listening to the chicken cross the road. “You told me that joke five minutes ago. And my parents told me that joke when I was small. Their parents told them that joke when they were small. And so on. In fact, that might be the oldest joke ever. Unless there’s one that pre-dates Roman structural engineering.”
Joey thought about that for a minute.
“But… it’s FUNNY,” he explained to Andreas. “It doesn’t matter if you have heard it before. It is always funny. Watch. I’ll tell Mommy. She’ll laugh.”
And he is right. I do always laugh at any joke that has achieved classic family status. I even laugh at the escargot joke every time my mother tells it. She’s been telling it once a week for 25 years. I am not laughing at the joke. I am laughing at a member of my family telling a joke.
Andreas just doesn’t get it.
“But you have heard it before,” he’ll say, whilst shaking his head. “More times than you’ve been to the bathroom. And… well, babe… it’s really lame.” (“Whaahahaha! Daddy mentioned the toilet! Wahahaha!”)
I am beginning to think that the world is divided into 2 types of people: people who need a joke to be funny to laugh at, and people who are happy to simply have a joke to laugh at. I think I fall into the latter category. And I am glad about that.
And on that note: I am going to leave you with my son’s favourite kiddy jokes of the moment.
6-year-old Benjamin: What’s the difference between pop corn and pea soup? Anyone can pop corn.
8-year-old Josef: What nationality are you when you are on the toilet? European.
Bwahahahaha! <wipes the tears from her eyes> Parenting rocks, doesn’t it? What makes your kids laugh?