I was watching an improvised comedy show last week in an audience of 400. Next to me were a couple who’d brought along their nine-year-old son. Whenever one of the comedians used a word the child didn’t understand, he’d shout very loudly, “Dad, what does that mean?”
It had started when someone on stage used the word “barn”. The child shouted, “Dad, what does barnmean?” The father then explained loudly, while everyone tried to watch the show.
Then the word “hooker” came up.
Child: “Dad, what’s a hooker?”
Father: “It’s a hooker.”
I turned to him and said, “Could you tell your child to be quiet, please?” He looked shocked, then muttered something to his son.
Minutes later: “What’s Reader’s Digest?” Now I bypassed the father.
Me to child: “Could you be quiet, please?” The mother gave me a filthy look and started tutting. The child looked shocked.
If I’d caused such disruption when I was a child, my mum would have dragged me outside, smacked me, and made me sit there on my own.
But this middle-class bohemian couple saw the comedy show as “an education” for their child, and gave him no boundaries. As I was leaving, I heard the mother saying something about me, and the son responded, “Yeah, she was a right cow!” I thought, thank God I’m not your mother.