It started as a bit of a joke, but now I was beginning to worry.
“How could she not be here?”, I thought.
I retraced my steps.
I definitely saw her about an hour ago, I remember that. I tried to recall what she was wearing…
…her pink and white Unicorn T-shirt.
Yes – I’m not a TOTALLY inattentive father! I’ll make sure they mention that in the Police report.
WHERE THE HELL WAS SHE?
I went upstairs to check her room again – not there.
I went into our room – not there either.
Sister’s room? Nope.
I’d been sat downstairs writing for the past hour. If she’d come downstairs, I would’ve heard her, as it’s impossible to use our stairs without any creaking. If Darcy Bussell consumed nothing but Helium for a month and her shoes were made from cotton wool balls, she’d still sound like a herd of elephants on our stairs.
(Don’t ask me how I know this)
Still, even though I KNEW she (my daughter, not Darcy Bussell) wasn’t downstairs…
…I went and checked downstairs.
Now I was getting worried.
WHERE THE HELL IS MY DAUGHTER???
I came back into the lounge, wondering if I should wake up my wife and admit that I’d lost our youngest child (probably not the best way of being woken up) when all of a sudden…
…my daughter leapt up from behind the couch – and scared the hell out of me!
Despite feeling the overwhelming urge to kill her, I had a question…
WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?
I’ve been in the lounge for the last hour, glued to the couch, writing. To hide behind me, she would’ve had to walk right past me. I would have seen her. I know this because I’m never THAT focused on my work to not notice someone walking past me.
I’d not moved for 60 minutes.
Well, apart from the time I… oh, wait…
And that’s when she told me how she did it.
It was 6 am when she got up. I’d been up for three hours (not a boast about me being in the 3 am club – I’m not that motivated. I had leg cramps) and sat on the couch, working.
“I’m just going go upstairs and read for a bit…”, she said.
(or, to be more precise, “she lied”)
She was waiting.
At about 6:30, I nipped to the loo. Not wanting to use the creaky stairs and wake the house, I went to the downstairs one.
And that’s when she struck.
She came downstairs and hid behind the couch.
I came back into the lounge (after washing my hands, obvs) and continued working, unaware that my daughter was less than a foot away from me.
Usually, the person hiding immediately leaps out and yells “surprise!”
Not my daughter. Not today.
She waited…for 30 bloody minutes.
For 1,800 seconds she sat in absolute silence behind me while I worked. I even did a guided bloody meditation and didn’t hear her!
Only when she sensed I was getting frantic did she reveal herself.
Part of me wanted to kill her, but I’m also super proud.
It takes real determination to commit to a joke to get the absolute most out of it. The temptation to immediately reveal a punchline, gag or an idea is overwhelming. If you can hold your nerve though, you often get better results.
It’s the marshmellow test…if it was designed by an evil comedian.
In comedy, it’s the gag with the slow, languid set up that goes on for far too long before the tension is broken with a punchline that destroys the audience.
On social media, it’s the Rocky Horror Show’s Twitter account when they left a setup hanging for 5 years (5 YEARS!) before they reveal the payoff.
It’s about creating EXCITEMENT and ANTICIPATION in your audience.
How can you put these ideas to work?
I’ll tell you on Thursday…
Have a great week,