I got ridiculed by a leprechaun in front of a room full of people the other day.
Ok, not a leprechaun, a baby. He looked like a leprechaun though.
It was one of those family events where there’s a new baby and everyone takes it in turns to do a dumb face and make funny noises so the baby smiles, and everybody’s happy and isn’t our family great even though we’ve had our differences and he looks like you, no he looks like you, let’s just say he looks like all of us and ooh look he’s drooling again and I think he’s just shat on me but it’s ok because he’s cute.
You get the idea.
So this particular baby seemed to think the pinnacle of comedy was having somebody give a big grin and say “Teletubby” directly into his face. Obviously a child of TV but who am I to judge?
It was the usual thing of everyone taking it in turns, and whenever anyone said ‘Teletubby’ the baby would give a little chuckle and bob his head back and forth. It was all very cute and, being the egotistical performer that I am, I thought I’d get in on the action cos I was guaranteed a good response from this particular audience.
What? I’m not shallow. YOU’RE shallow. Shut up.
So I stepped forward with a ‘let me handle this’ swagger. Looking back I may as well have been wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Comedian’, and shouting at everybody “Don’t worry ladies and gentlemen, I am here”.
Now, let me just say at this point, I normally hate doing baby stuff. Not because I hate babies or anything, but just because of the thoughts that race through my mind – Do I look stupid? Is everybody watching me? Am I doing it right? Are the parents going to think I’m some kind of weirdo?
And, most importantly, is this gonna work or am I going to make this poor kid cry?
In this case though, it seemed a pretty safe bet that the kid would laugh, I’d look hilarious, and we could all agree that the baby chuckled loudest and hardest at MY way of saying ‘Teletubby’. So I went right up to this particular little one, did my biggest grin, waved my hands above my head and shouted “Teletubby!”
Then, after what seemed like an eternity….nothing for a bit longer.
At that point I’m pretty sure a tumbleweed blew across the floor.
Then, finally, the little boy gives me a look that can at best be described as ‘withering’, at worst as ‘absolutely disgusted with my ineptness and total inability to say the word ‘Teletubby’ in an appropriately comedic fashion’.
Everyone laughed like ‘Oh, isn’t he such a fickle little baby’, but I know what they’re thinking – Angelo did it wrong. All he had to do was say ‘Teletubby’ and grin, and he did it wrong. Because he’s a loser.
It’s the Sports-Day-running-so-fast-my-shorts-fell-down-a-bit thing all over again.
The problem is, it doesn’t matter what your social skills are like, or how intelligent you are or how successful you are or whatever – all of the hard work you put in to appear sociable and normal can be undone in two seconds flat if a baby gives you a funny look. And there is a huge social difference between being ‘that guy who made the baby do a cute look’ and ‘that guy who made the baby cry his eyes out’.
And don’t even get me started on baby talk. Some people can just naturally do stupid noises and say things in a cute way. I can’t. My ‘cute’ voice sounds camp.
I remember one of my little cousins, who must have been about 2 or something, wearing a party dress for the first time. Everyone was coo-ing and doing cutesy voices, and telling her how cute she looked.
When I tried it, I ended up sounding like Dale Winton circa 1995 – “Oooh, look at YOU! Looking all gorgeous! That’s a very pretty dress”. I realised how dumb I sounded so I decided to just keep going til I did it right, which resulted in me eventually saying “I wish I had that dress! I love sparkly bits!”.
I actually told a 2 year old girl that I wished I had her dress cos I loved the sparkly bits.
I’m an adult. And male.
I’ve noticed actually that people who are deemed ‘good with kids’ always seem to just bombard them with a barrage of questions. I truly believe that kids must think adults are all a bunch of idiots who literally do not know what is happening at any given time – “What’s that on your head? Is it a hat? What colour is it? Have I got a hat? Has mummy got a hat? Whose name is on your hat? Is it your name? What’s your name? What’s my name?”
Throw in a couple of nervous twitches and some eye-rolls and you’re on your way to being sectioned.
I can’t read stories to babies either. I always feel like I’m doing it wrong. I mean, what’s the etiquette? Do I do the voices of the various characters? And if so, how animated am I supposed to be? Am I supposed to act the story? Do I point out the characters in the book? Do I just read the story and that’s it, or am I supposed to point objects out in the pictures and somehow talk about them in the context of the narrative?
I once read a bedtime story to one of my cousins, which she liked and which seemed to ‘work’ cos she fell asleep. But I still spent the whole time worrying about whether I was doing it right, or if I needed to jazz it up a little bit. I think the pinnacle of that particular episode was my falsetto ‘female’ voice for the character of the princess. If the dress thing made me sound like Dale Winton, this pushed me all the way over into RuPaul territory.
The way I see it is that it’s like walking. Everyone can do it, but if you feel like everyone’s watching you, you’re gonna get all self-conscious and start trying to walk ‘properly’. By the end of it you manage to look severely constipated for nine steps and then fall over.
It’d be nice to impart some wisdom at this point, but judging by my track record, I’m not really in any position to give advice on baby stuff. So, I’ll just say this, an entire article about babies, and only one poo joke?
And the use of the word ‘pinnacle’ twice?
I must be getting old…