Thanks Dad

There’s a thought I had once that made me feel so awkward it remained in my head together with a promise to myself to never let such a thought become a sentence uttered out loud. So there it stayed, in my mind, not at the front, nor the back, just there meandering among the many other thoughts that are found here.

Another thought is why I constantly feel the need to use the word ‘meander’. I just love this word that a geography teacher back in the mid eighties used when describing the journey a river made. I have no idea of the geography teacher’s name nor that of the river. All I took from his, maybe her, lesson was this word. To this day it is in my top five words.

And only because I know I will get comments, here are my top words in no particular order…

Meander. Giggle. Nuance. Tangent.

Why? Why can’t I just leave the list and get back to this thought of mine?

Yes of course, if I don’t go into greater detail about my words of choice there will be comments…

I guess we have covered meander to a point. It wasn’t the first word I learned by any stretch but it is one of the things from my days at school that has stayed with me. Along with, inexplicably, Pythagoras’ Theorum. I just wish I could remember the teacher’s name.

Giggle reads and sounds like it should. I quite like making people laugh but I get a more complete joy from seeing them giggle. Making my Dad giggle was absolutely one of my favourite things to do. It meant the world to me and even as I type this I am smiling and have that feeling you get, what’s it called now…

Damn it! I am forgetting names of emotions to go with those of geography teachers.

Nuance – I have enjoyed saying this word out loud for as long as I can remember (although judging by today that could just be hours…). One day I was watching an episode of Mad About You and as the credits came to a close the white screen showed the word nuance for a second or two until from the bottom of the screen an index finger appeared and pushed the word into a perfectly central position on the screen. Genius. Genius on so many levels. 

Tangent – because without a tangent no piece I have written can officially be complete. 

There isn’t a fifth word right now. I have top five lists for many things: coffee shops, music, books, jokes, kids and although the nucleus of a list is the same I will often leave a space in it for the very frequent occasions when I change my mind.

Nucleus? That could be word number five?

So back to the blog –  I’ve meandered from mentioning a thought I’d had to listing a few of my favourite words.

Perhaps I am putting this off because thinking it made me feel uncomfortable. When I did finally say it out loud I found out, as hard as it was to utter, I did feel a huge sense of relief. However, thinking and saying something can always be denied but once it is in print there is no taking it back. 

My Dad died close to eleven years ago and since then I have become a better stand up comedian. There, I typed it.

There are two reasons why I may be considered a half decent stand up. First are the lessons my Dad spent decades teaching me and, second, is the fact that I can now no longer rely on him. I used to come up with a joke and send it over to my Dad and after a few words of encouragement he would offer a suggestion – often just a word, maybe a pause, perhaps place the emphasis elsewhere. Some might call it a nuance.  

Dad would always make the joke funnier and now that job is mine and because of him I always make it funnier. Eventually.


And there’s another tangent. Short but still a tangent.

The reason I find myself confessing this morning is because of last night’s show. As usual I was at the back of the room as the crowd wandered in because, once in a while, doing this provides me with some comedy gold. Last night I got really lucky. Four people walked right in front of me and the gentleman at the back called out: ‘Sit at the end. That way if we don’t like him we can leave…’

I have never been afraid to do new material and Dad always said I had an uncanny ability to get the new stuff in exactly the right spot among the existing gags. My preference is to open with the new line because this way you get a more honest reaction to it. Once the audience is laughing they’ll carry on laughing. It becomes habit almost. Opening with the new material is brave, perhaps stupid, but undoubtably helpful to me as I get to assess it on it’s own merit.  This new joke had to be placed perfectly and I knew exactly where. 

Maybe five minutes into my show I found myself talking about the different nationalities onboard and suggesting to the audience that there is in fact no difference in people’s sense of humour. The only difference, aside from the spelling of the word, is the mind set an audience adopts to watch a comedy show. At this point I would usually focus on the Americans and Brits in the room but last night I gleefully revealed what I had heard pre-show from the two couples and, with perhaps a bit too much glee, I jumped off the stage and marched up the aisle pointing them out. It got a huge laugh which became bigger still when the culprit stood up and celebrated the fact he’d been busted.

I walked back towards the stage during the applause break the new bit received. I am not a fan of applause breaks as it only slows down my route to the next joke but last night I happily accepted it while smiling to myself, picturing my Dad who would have been propped up against the back wall, giggling.

Oh. I know what the fifth word is on my list. No prizes for guessing…







14 responses to “Thanks Dad”

  1. Jeff Stevenson Avatar

    Love this Paul , your dad was someone we all miss . I loved my lunch meet ups with him Gary and Alan . We would put the world to rights and Charlie would always give me a new gag . Probably one you didn’t want to use . You are a great comic .

    1. Paul Avatar

      Well, I am pretty sure it would have been the other way around. That’s a lunch group I’d like to have had the chance to join. Thank you for reading.

  2. Jon Courtenay Avatar

    Lovely blog Paul. Funny what moments shine through as ‘Dadisms’ isn’t it? Don’t think that’s a word but I like it.

    1. Paul Avatar

      Me too. I’m going to steal it for another blog. I’ll credit you of course.
      Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  3. Adam Avatar

    I’ve got a few good words for you, I’ll tell you them next time I see you.

    Lovely read mate.

    1. Paul Avatar

      I know you will. Thanks for reading it.

  4. Steve H Avatar

    Wow mate, I’ve always loved your comedy stylings and delivery and now since you ‘first’ book I’m addicted to your writings.
    You are so great with words and they are always the right words & in the right order! You know how to pitch a blog with impact and the basis here being The ‘doubters’ at the back of the room made this piece a perfect story with a poignant ending… I’m hooked

    1. Paul Avatar

      Thanks for taking the time Steve. I’ll try and keep this one up.

  5. Hils Avatar

    Nutritious..there’s one of my five. I loved the flow of that post Paul. Charlie should be mentioned and I love how you say you used to rely on him but you are now flying solo as it were. He will always be at the heart and centre of how you think and write…
    He was terrifically gifted and so my friend are you … take a bow! 😜

    1. Paul Avatar

      I promise I’ll bow at the end of my next show. Can you see my crossed fingers online. Thanks for reading Hils.

  6. Matt Greenly Avatar
    Matt Greenly

    Trundle, one of my favourite words, much like giggle, it reads and sounds like itself.

    I was brought to your blog by my pal Jon Courtenay and I’m glad he did, a cracking read and echo’s of my own dad played in my mind while reading your blog. Dads are super powerful, even after they’ve moved on

    1. Paul Avatar

      Thank you Matt. Trundle is a fab word. Jon is one of the really good guys. I hope more people take his advice! I publish every Thursday so hopefully there will be more to enjoy. Thanks again.

  7. Richard Leslie Lewis Avatar
    Richard Leslie Lewis

    11 years? Jesus. Great blog. X

    1. Paul Avatar

      Wow. Thank you sir. From you this means the whole wide world. Hope you’re both well.

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