Mother's pride

Carol Spencer on what it's like to have a comedian – Diane Spencer – as a daughter

The question was: What is it like being the mother of a comedienne? And my answer is: The same as being the mother of an astronaut. Way out!

A mother is a mother, is a mother, is a mother. A baby is born and none of us know what ‘the end product’ will turn out to be. We can love, direct, cajole, nurture, sometimes repress and finally hope that the adult will be happy and well adjusted and safe from everything trying to bring them down and suck them into the rotten abyss.

When my daughter announced: Guess what? I am going to be a comedian!', my first thought was: 'Yes, and I’m going to marry Prince Charles.' (I am at that age – although the idea of him being my Tampax does turn me off, yuk).

You will note it was my first thought, my actual answer to my daughter was: 'Oh, that’s nice dear, that sounds exciting.' The fact that she was out in New Zealand, over 12 thousand miles away, meant I could not look her in the face and see for myself whether this was real or a joke.

It was real. At first, we decided, her dad and I, that it was something in her system that she has to exorcise and when the motherfuckers (hecklers) start giving her a hard time, she will go back to a ‘normal’ job. She has had a very good education and was a trained teacher, after all.

Six years later. Diane comes to stay with us, and all the time she is here, she is working. She is either writing jokes, rehearsing, corresponding (via twitter, text, email etc.) and what makes me the happiest is that she loves being a comedian I have seen her perform in front of a full house (150) and an empty house (six) and each time both audiences get the whole of Diane for the time she is on stage.

She has performed in front of a few totally unresponsive audiences; they have come to see a comedy show but have left their giggle bits at home, and all the acts struggled. After such a show I say: 'It wasn’t your fault, they were a miserable lot.'

Sometimes I cringe at her material because I am her mum and think, 'How does she know that' or 'Did she really do that?' and it has taken a long time for me to realise that she is a woman in her own right and she knows more than me (have I missed out?) Also, she assures me that just because it is in her act, it is not necessarily true. That’s comforting!

When I am part of the audience and anonymous, I like to hear the reactions of other people around me, the laughter, the oooohs, the praise and, yes, the criticism.

Do you remember going to those primary school concerts where your offspring struggled with the recorder and you were there with their every note? I still feel that today when she is on stage: it’s wonderful and I am so proud of her achievements, even though she has not reached the dizzy heights of being able to pay just 1 per cent tax…

Am I glad my daughter has decided to go down this unpredictable path? Let’s put it like this, I now wish I had pursued my dreams instead of just thinking about them, putting them in a 'box’ and bringing them out every so often.

I will never know the answer to 'If only….' She is finding out. Brilliant!

Published: 28 Jul 2012

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