With All Seriousness

‘You’re a mum now Lou’ my friend informed me as I sat before her, tea in hand, despair draping my face. ‘You’re going to have to learn to deal with it.’

I silently opened a packet of Teddy Bear biscuits as she continued.

‘You’re just won’t be able to be funny anymore. Happens to the best of us. I use to be fucking Conan O’Brien till I had kids. Now everything I say comes across as if I’m giving a speech at the Hague.’

And just like that, she had confirmed my deepest fears – that now I’m a mum, everything I say and do will forever be read and taken with all seriousness.

F**k. For someone that makes a living from writing funny things, this did not bode well. I mean, I’d had a baby, there were bills to pay, a new car I’d bought to live in…

Yet the thing is, I had/have cause for concern. It had already started – the ‘with all seriousness.’

Last week my boyfriend/fiancé’s face flashed up on my phone – ‘F**k, he can’t live without me’ I chuckled to myself as I paused Netflix’s F.B.I Files (‘True stories from the F.B.I.’) ‘I bet he’d kill for me if I asked him….’

‘Yo, waz up?’ I casually enquired with my usual greeting.

‘Is everything ok?’ He blurted out between tears. I sensed something was wrong so I paused the TV. I’m good like that.

‘Why? Should something be wrong?’

‘I just got a text asking if We were ok. Are We ok? Why would We not be ok?’

I thought about it. Were We ok? Perhaps this was my out? Mark Ruffalo had recently landed in the Gold Coast and I had just gotten my legs waxed a month earlier…coincidence?

I decided to give it a go.

‘I don’t know. You tell me. Are we ok?’

‘What?’

‘I mean unless you’ve done something wrong?’

I un-paused the TV. This definitely was a conversation that could continue with background noise.

‘No, no…I mean don’t think so.’

‘Are you sure…?’

He fell silent for a moment, searching his brain for an incident, one where he’d fucked up so much that it would undoubtedly drive me into the arms of The Hulk.

‘Someone from work rang. Said you posted something on Facebook, about our relationship. She was worried.’

I flipped over to a documentary entitled ‘My Time in a Cult’. Winner.

‘And then she said it was something about me no longer being your lover, that I’d become your carer.’

‘Oh, that? It was a joke.’

‘She didn’t think it was a joke.’

‘It was clearly a joke. That’s my thing.’

I scrambled to pull up Facebook on my phone, only to notice 11 unread text messages had popped up, including 3 voicemails and various Facebook notifications.

‘And then my brother left a message asking if it was true –

‘- You are not my carer.’ I assured him from our bed, wearing an adult diaper, pushing 100 kg, wheelchair idling by my side table, power pumping two boobs at a time…

‘All I wrote was…’

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‘Remember, from the other night when you were reading that SBS article, and I thought it was funny given I’d just wet the bed for the second time that evening and we’d laughed about how we really needed to get around to buying a mattress protector. Remember? It was funny.’

I scrolled through the messages:

Saw your post – it gets better xx

You and JK will be fine xx

I’ve sent you a link to a single mother’s Facebook group. Mostly widows but heaps of great tips. xx

I never liked him. Let’s do coffee soon x

This is just a kindly reminder that your ANZ card payment is now overdue.

I’m on my way over. Bringing chocolate! How could he!!! ☹ ☹ ☹

Did I leave my hairdryer at yours????

The Facebook messages were much the same

‘Thinking of you and the bub during your turbulent time xx’

‘Not you guys!!!’

‘Hi, my name is Kirtia and I like sex and men. Please meet??’

I couldn’t understand what was going on.

It was clearly a joke. I only ever posted funny things. I was the funny girl. What was happening?

And so this was when I called my friend for reassurance, the one who now works for the Hague…

‘Everything you do, write or post about from this point onwards will be met with a degree of earnest belief and genuine concern. Gone are the days of flippant remarks, you’re part of something bigger than yourself- being a mum on social media.’

‘But I’m not just a mum.’

‘As of now Lou, yes, yes you are.’

I took the last remaining Teddy Bear biscuit offering none to my friend.

‘Don’t despair Lou. You can still be funny in private, you know, as long as no one is watching, listening or reading you, but once you post your funny on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, blog about it, or continue to post on that YouTube Channel you made that no one ever watches – it will only be seen as a cry for help, a need for support, a plea for understanding, shit Lou, I mean with any luck you might end up a mummy blogger – purely by default.’

‘You shut your mouth!’ I spat at her.

It was a truth bomb I clearly wasn’t ready to hear.

‘You need to leave’ I said shaking ‘Get out of my house’.

And with that, she was gone.

A few weeks late I took to social media again. This time posting on the hilarious feeder-esque situation I now found myself in.

It was my comeback. A nuanced, funny observation on breastfeeding-


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My phone beeped:

‘OMG Lou. Are you ok? Just saw your post. Can I recommend Lanosin for your chafed nipples…’

Beep! Another message…

And just like that, my fate was sealed. My friend had been right. I was f**ked. Chafed and f**ked.

 

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Where’s My Murphy Brown?

 

Last week as I wandered the streets looking for purpose, I overheard a woman and her friend bemoan the current state of television.

‘I miss family shows you know? Like, The Cosby Show and Hey Dad.’

Her friend nodded in agreement as if she too had been stuck down a mine shaft with her companion for the last three years…

I watched as they continued on their way, no doubt going home to old VHS recordings of The Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris Variety Hour while eating Subway sandwiches.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. It makes us reflect on more ‘wholesome’ times, even if most of the time we are reflecting through rose coloured glasses.

Indeed, when it comes to TV we are particularly susceptible to this, just look at the recent reboots of Fuller House and The Gilmore Girls. We somehow have managed to convince ourselves that these shows were from a better time, you know, when you stayed at home with the family, without a single smartphone screen in site and simply watched families be real families – unlike like the chaos of TV today.

Yet they were from a better time, but for a much better reason – TV was bolder, not always in a good way, but it took chances.

Stay with me on this…

And nothing was bolder than situation comedy…

I can’t cover all the comedy from the 80s through to the 90s, so I’m going with a few that just popped into my head while I thought about this topic.

I’m going to start with Punky Brewster – this is a show you couldn’t pitch today unless it was reworked as a gritty urban drama written by the guy who penned The Wire.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, 7-year old Punky Brewster was a modern-day Annie. Abandoned by her mother, along with her dog Brandon, in a grocery store car park, she finds shelter in an empty apartment, only to be discovered by building manager Henry – a single, older man who lives on his own.  She moves in with this stranger and it all works out happily ever after.

Ok, to recap – abandoned 7-year-old girl, moves into a squat and is discovered by a man, whose other passion aside from building maintenance, is photography. In the 80s this was a ridiculously popular family friendly show. Today, it’s a Law & Order SVU episode.

Like I said, bold.

And let’s not forget The Golden Girls. A bunch of women over the age of 50 (yes, over 50 and on actual television screens) all without the responsibilities of husbands and children (well, with the exception of Sofia, but that’s different) live a wonderful, friendship filled, at times challenging but rewarding life in Miami, with their own storylines and character motivations. They even eat cheesecake at least once a night and they actually look like women who would eat cake. And no, Hot in Cleveland is not the equivalent.  No, this show was groundbreaking and unfortunately one can’t help but feel that after that ground broke we’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years refilling the hole, and filling it with cement…

Let’s see, The Golden Girls tackled important issues such as aging, disability, gay rights, feminism (it was a feminist show full stop), AIDS, aged care, loneliness, death, gun control, reproductive rights – heck, it even covered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – by using humour and pathos. So a bunch of amazing actresses over 50, on our televisions, being funny, with no fixed lead male characters…our equivalent today is….is….is….is…I’m sure something will come to me…maybe there’s something on Netflix…

Rosanne. There I said it. Weird ending aside, this show was and is to this day still bold TV. Yes, before Mike and Molly, believe it or not we had other large lead characters on our screens – Roseanne and Dan Conner. But being big wasn’t the focus of their show. No, it was about story, family and all the crap we have to get through every day just to survive. It was hilarious, relatable and is the reason I lusted after corkscrew curls for most of my teens.  Our equivalent of a working class family today – The Middle. That is all. I’m just going to leave that there – The Middle.

(P.S. By the way, the fact that real-life Darlene married the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, makes up for the way the show ended…barely).

And in these days of debate surrounding gender pay gaps, abortion rights, gay and transgender rights and online trolling of women is our god damn Murphy Brown! The only comparison that springs to mind is Press Gang, but even then that show was of the same ilk and time. I can’t help but think our 2016 version of Murphy Brown would be the story of a single working mum trying to have it all, set to a montage backdrop of New York City.

Now I’m not saying that just because a show was bold makes it somehow better. There was definitely a fair share of bold and questionable in the 80s. Just take Perfect Strangers – and the less said about that the better. Much like the questionable set-up of Punky Brewster, Charles in Charge could easily be tainted with the same SUV brush today. Charles, a college-age student moves in with a family who has a teen daughter, as their babysitter and housekeeper. Yep, college student moves in with family, who has a teen daughter…and he becomes in charge of her day, of her life… I’m not saying college-age men can’t babysit 16-year-old girls, but this was the 80s and it was Scott Baio. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe I just miss Let The Blood Run Free or Doogie Howser MD too much and that’s why I wrote this, but I’m not sure how much I’d like a reboot of a show about a teen genius that would inevitably just make me question the life choices that have lead me to still be a blogger and a renter at 36. Perhaps I don’t need bold TV like that, perhaps I should be content with groundbreaking TV like Modern Family that finally gives much-needed visibility to the older man/ younger woman relationship.

I’ll think about it… while I’m thinking about a TV comedy that stars women over 50 not being predominantly caregivers – sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

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Dream A Little Dream

I’ve always been a firm believer that if someone, even with all the best of intentions, feels the need to unburden last night’s dream on you over coffee, it’s ok to end the friendship there and then. They’ll understand. If not, in time they will. They will.

But being the massive hypocrite I am, I’m now that friend, the one with the dreams, and I just have to talk about it.

The other night I had a dream where I had to mediate the Weasley Twins from Harry Potter as they navigated a polyamorous relationship they were in while identifying as pansexual and admitting an attraction to each other because they’re turned on by the whole being related thing. This ongoing issue was further complicated by the fact that Jon Snow’s alive head had been left in my care and he just wouldn’t go to sleep, no matter how many times I drove him around the block. He also didn’t like being bounced up and down by the knees. It was a nightmare, a literal nightmare.

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Or how about the dream from last night where, after not falling asleep until 4am, Samuel L Jackson, Devon Sawa and myself found a secret castle just of the Burnley Tunnel Richmond exit, where Holly Valance was being held hostage by a guy I knew in high school whose claim to fame was his calf muscles. In order to free her, Samuel and I had to embark on a 15 year career as exotic dancers in Singapore. We were quite the act, but my biggest concern was how I was going to get back to my parents in time for Sunday dinner. I finally made it home from my erotic oddessy only to be disowned by my family, with my father vowing never to speak with me again because he was forced to throw out the lamb due my tardiness. Oh and for some reason Tom Cruise was there and he was mad at me as well.

Now because I’m not an asshole, before I inflicted these dreams on my partner and friends I turned to the internet, mummy blogs and forums to be exact. WTF? What fresh hell are those things?! It’s like someone took all the judgement in the world and gave it a landing page.

Typing in ‘bad pregnancy dreams’ I was met with mixed responses that ranged from:

  • ‘Oh don’t get me started on crazy pregnancy dreams.I had one the other night where tiny angels appeared to me, looking, I kid you not, like Blue Ivy #beyonceforeva and they whispered into my ear as I slept peacefully, the names Ebony and Archer, which is crazy because my husband and I were thinking of naming our twins those exact names. Crazy right?’
  • ‘Bad dreams are a sign your baby will be born with severe communication problems. To learn more about the dangers of vaccination…’
  • ‘I just ate more carrots before bed and they disappeared, now I just dream of acceptance, oh and Peter Rabbit :)’
    DIE ALREADY – yes, I’m judging them..so what? When in Rome…

Nowhere could I find what I was looking for, a kindred, someone who had also dreamed of going to a Beyonce concert at Rod Laver arena only unable to find a carpark had to move to Ireland, join the IRA and live the rest of their life under a new identity (in that dream, I also had to get reconstructive face surgery without anaesthetic). I also was unable to get a refund on my Beyonce tickets. I woke up crying.

So I was forced to turn to a friend. My non-pregnant, gay male friend, but someone I was certain would have a concerned ear I could bend.

‘…and then mum said they wouldn’t pay to get my ears pierced and Hillary Clinton agreed and said she could do it herself but we needed to go to Greensborough to get the equipment and I didn’t have a valid Myki card on me – ‘

I could barely finish the sentence, as a shaking hand gripped my decaf weak long black, with extra water.

‘ – and there was nowhere to recharge it in Australia, so I never got my ears pierced and Hillary was so angry she wouldn’t let me go to Hungry Jacks with her. And she’d promised. She’d promised!’

My disinterested confidant frowned.

‘Are you telling me about your dreams Lou?’

I gulped. Damn my transparent demeanour.

‘I thought we had an agreement about stuff like that.’ He pushed.

‘I thought that was only boring dreams, not horrifying scenarios involving various pop culture icons that will inevitably come true knowing me.’

‘A dreams still a dream Lou. What if I told you about my dreams, how would you like that?’

I feigned interest in the name of self-preservation.

‘I’d love to know about your dreams. I’ve changed. I’m cool with stuff like that now – puppies, potpourri and vision boards, bring it on I say.’

He knew I was lying, but we’re the sort of friends that would never call each other on stuff like that. True friends.

‘Great. So, I had this dream last week where my dad just turned up at my house and we spent the week just hanging out. I even learned to fish.’

Silence.

‘Crazy right?’

‘Yeah…’

‘Cause dad was only here like last week and we talked about going fishing but we never actually got around to doing it.’

‘Crazy…’

‘Yeah, it’s like my subconscious knew what I hoped we’d done and made it a reality for me. Dreams are amazing.’

‘Dreams are amazing like that.’

Silence.

‘That hurt you a little didn’t it Lou, listening to me talk about my dream?’

I paused, letting out a deep breath/burp-fart.

‘Can I be honest?’

‘Of course Lou’

‘I died a little inside.’

‘Oh’

‘Your dream wasn’t even a dream. It was at best a memory, a distorted memory, but, and I say this with the utmost respect, it was no dream.’

He took the barb well, toying with his gluten free pistachio cupcake, for which he no longer had the appetite.

‘We can’t all dream about the universe being constantly disappointed in us.’

‘Is that what you think my dreams are about?’

‘Absolutely, I mean, take the dream about Hillary Clinton not taking you to Hungry Jacks – ‘

The waiter came over, refilling our water.

‘ – are you sure you have time to talk about this?’

My friend adjusted his glasses.

‘Plenty, now back to Hillary and the fact you’ll never reach her heights of success and your own ongoing inadequacies…’

I couldn’t help but smile, maybe talking to friends about dreams wasn’t so bad after all…

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I’d F**k A Funny Woman Any Day.

I find women funnier. I just do. There, it’s said. It’s out there. For years I’ve taken a diplomatic stance – funny is funny no matter what the gender, no matter who is telling the joke, but who was I kidding, give me an Amy over an Arj any day. Now by no means is that meant to be taken as a disparaging comment on the Arj’s of the world, it’s just that my pen is inked from a different well, um, a well of ladies.

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I was born this way. From the moment I came into the world, as my mother looked at my tanned skin and joked between puffs ‘oh look, she’s nicotine stained’…it was inevitable.

About a week ago some guy called Wippa from a radio show mentioned that funny women don’t get the guys. Mama Mia writer Lucy Gransbury posted a great response to his assertions – ‘Eat a bag of dicks’. A more articulate response to the ‘funny women shut up if you want to get laid debate’ I’m yet to see. My fiancé, a man no less, decided he too would post a response. Less barbed he conceded that funny was sexy no matter what gender but I begged to differ, and I did. Under his post, I wrote ‘I find women funnier.’ It was out.

As much as I’m a fan of David Sedaris, it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who I stalk with unwavering commitment. Her Instagram account is ‘what Instagram was made for’ a friend recently declared. Her recent turn in Broadcity, something to behold ‘where isn’t a toilet?!’

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Judith Lucy and Jane Kenndey were the reasons I fought to stay up well past my bedtime to watch The Lateshow, it had little to do with Mick or Santo. Then of course there was Lynda Gibson in Let the Blood Run Free, Madge in Big Girls Blouse, Smack the Pony, Lucille Ball, The Golden Girls, Mona from Who’s The Boss, Ruth Cracknell, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Shelley Long in anything. Oh and then there was Girls on Top that introduced me to Tracey Ullman, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. And Julia Davis pretty much revolutionised my viewing experience with Nighty Night, um and Jo Brand, Ab Fabs Patsy, Tamsin Greig, Janeane Garofalo, Olivia Colman and Parker Posey, and that my friends is only a list encompassing my formative years to say about the time I started working in comedy in the early 2000s.

Now sadly it was only when I started working in the industry did I learn, or sorry, I was told that women weren’t funny from some punters, some promoters and the odd comedian thus negating my entire back catalogue of inspiration, well they would have if I’d actually given a shit and for a moment believed them. I guess it doesn’t help that near every year some journo with space to burn poses the question ‘Are women funny?’ it’s about as relevant and interesting a question as that from my Year 12 debating final ‘Should you be permitted to choose whatever clothes you want to wear outside of school?’

Sure I have friends who are professionally funny and successful because they’re funny, but it’s also my lady friends from other walks of life that crack me up just as much, if not more. I think it’s the reason I think I’m drawn to them in the first place, that and their hair. It’s what I value most in a friendship, a good laugh and good hair. My mum is one of the funniest women I know, now whether or not it’s intentional we’ll probably never be certain, but on more than one occasion she’s made me pee my pants and this is well after the potty training years. My friend Clem never fails to make me laugh-cry in my face and then there’s Hattie. I see her maybe every 5 years or so, but I’m still left smiling for years after our catch ups because of  her tales of exotic world travel engrossing me while her cigarette animatedly dances around the table as she weaves her squeal inducing stories. Actually if I’ve invited you around for dinner and plied you with booze and you’ve got a vagina it’s probably because you’ve made my tummy hurt with laughter at some stage….feel used? Good.

I’m sure if you know me you’ve probably always suspected that I’m funny girl inclined, there’s been rumours floating around for years and I just felt it was time to set things straight, on my own terms. I plan to raise my children as lovers of funny women and you know what, I don’t think they’ll be alone, especially if the recent spate of fan obsessing ver the Amy’s, Mindy’s, Tina’s and Ilana’s is anything to go by and they’ll be in the best of like-minded sexy funny company, I’m sure.

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Friends you never wanted to have – example 1

The smell of freshly urinated grass first thing in the morning can’t truly be described by anyone that hasn’t awoken on a bit of lawn, skirt riding up around their waist and the promise that this might be their last day on earth, but believe me I did not set out to finish up this way…

My friend Steve and I weren’t spending enough time together. He was insistent we meet up on the weekend and have a good chin wag, it was comments like that that had led me to push away from Steve, but like a cat trying to get a dead bird out of skirting boards he kept coming back. In hindsight I should never have encouraged my best friend Frannie to sleep with him, but he told me he was dying and I thought I’d do the guy a favour and so I introduced him to Frannie who after a recent pap smear scare was looking to rejoin the human race.

He wasn’t dying, not that he was lying. He’d stepped on a rusty nail earlier that day and had been lakse getting a tetnus injection and had been feeling a bit off all day. Frannie  had her suspicions ‘he didn’t shag like a dying man – he was more like the warm up guy on Wheel of Fortune; he worked on the theory I’d probably seen the show often enough to work it all out myself and he just occasionally yelled out encouraging vowel sounds’.

Frannie’s lack of interest in pursuing anything with Steve led her to give him my number and it turned out that when he wasn’t crying he was kinda alright to hang out with and when I say hang out with I mean a phone call once a year around Christmas generally when I’m about to go into a tunnel and my phone just drops out. So for whatever reason now he wanted a face to face. I agreed to meet him for dinner, drinks and food in a controlled environment with little chance of him bursting into tears or bringing his mother along.

‘I’m not eating chicken anymore’ He told me as the waiter took our order for two medium rare steaks. ‘Nothing off a carcass, it’s just so cruel.’

‘Not to burst your bubble Steve but steak much like the one you just ordered comes off a carcass’.

‘Common misconception Lou, it comes from the rump’

‘Which is part of the skeletal system, the carcass of the animal’

‘Granted its supported by the carcass, but it’s not entirely reliant on it, the rump doesn’t need the carcus to survive’

‘I think you’re thinking of squid’

‘And you Lou are refusing to think full stop’.

The problem was had Steve been an ex of mine, or an off cut of a night of pity then I’d have no trouble treating him with the contempt he deserved, but this was complicated. It was like meeting up with a friends ex-husband to distract him from the restraining order that had been served on him early that week with lots of ‘she told you she needed her space, this isn’t so much about you as it is her new husband that really thinks you can’t let go’ or my personal favourite ‘if you hadn’t slept with her mum there’s a good chance it would never have gotten to this’.

Our food arrived, my second bottle of wine decanted, his mineral water poured and we settled into round two for the night.

‘Why did you and I never hook up Lou. I see a lot of potential in you Lou.’

‘I was gay when I met you’

‘Guess it was just bad timing’

‘Yep’

‘You still gay?’

‘No, just turns out it was something I ate that night’

‘Funny you say that. I’ve met someone’

I nearly fell off my chair.

‘Do they know you’ve met them?’

‘Yes, she’d been on at me for ages to go out with her, it was pretty pathetic but what is it they say ‘give a girl a bone?’

‘You said that to her?’

‘No, I did that to her – gave her a bone…get it?’

I gulped at an empty glass, another drink was in order. I was breaking my latest rule – no drinking around others.

‘But then she got all weird’

‘She’d probably sobered up’

‘No, she doesn’t drink. It’s really very refreshing, you should try it sometime Lou’

‘There are lots of things I should do, but generally I do what I shouldn’t – point and case sitting here with you right now.’

‘Ouch – you’re just drunk’

‘Yes and I’m going to get going in a minute before my brain truly starts to grasp some of the things you’ve said tonight’

‘You’re just like my new girlfriend’

‘No I’m not, for starters I’m not a minor’

‘She’s 40 actually – older then me and you. A proper woman. She’s certified’.

‘They don’t hand out certificates’

‘They should and warning signs, I mean she got upset because I wouldn’t got down on her’.

My steak revisited my throat but I pushed it back down.

‘It’s just not natural Lou, like if I was gay fine, it’s part of the job description but I’m a guy, I mean help me out here Lou’

I slowly picked up my purse.

‘I don’t think we can be friends anymore Steve.’

‘Oh don’t tell me you like that stuff Lou…christ not you too..I’m starting to think it’s all women’.

‘Someone will stab you one day Steve, I’m just giving you a heads up on that’

‘Fine be that way, but I reckon you won’t find one guy who’s ok with doing that to a girl, well maybe a queer’

‘Frannie has chronic herpes Steve – enjoy’

And with that I left, and what I’d failed to realise was quite how drunk I was and at some point I passed out on what I believe was my way home…

….so waking up it took a few moments for my body to figure out where it had landed, where my brain in all it’s learned knowledge had decided I’d best be suited to bring in the new day. That place was my parents front lawn, complete with my father weeding in one corner and much to be horror, my mother languishing on a desk chair and prodding me a stick and yelling at her dog ‘Henry get away from your sister, put your leg down, down…oh honestly I’ve never seen Henry pee on someone so much – he must think you’re his girflfriend’



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