I love to laugh.
In my family, shared time is best spent with the kind of laughter that forces tears from you eyes while you silently rock, too amused to even produce sound. We find laughs everywhere: the obvious places like The Last Leg and Gogglebox; the more niche choice of Richard Osman’s House of Games (10/10 recommend, the final round ‘Answer Smash’ is a guaranteed giggle); and the entirely unexpected places like the six o’clock news, which was admittedly a whole lot easier before coronavirus stepped in.
We laugh with each other, splitting our sides over the puppy’s antics or recent happenings in each other’s lives. We also laugh at each other on occasion, usually due to hilarious mistakes or old in-jokes.
I feel like in-jokes get a bad rap. And I get it, I do – certainly as I child I did not enjoy the ‘in-jokes’ that I was deliberately excluded from. You had to be there became as much as an insult as anything else my bullies did or said. It told me loud and clear that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t worth spending time with, wasn’t worthy of the experience of creating in-jokes. As an adult reading this, it sounds petty, but as an eight or nine year old, it was yet another draw constantly breaking the camel’s back.
All of which is beside the point. A good in-joke, that brings genuine joy through its shared connections, is a fantastic social phenomenon.
- ‘That woman’ in the GCSE RE textbook
- ‘There’s not enough room to sit down’
- ‘The sky seems dark’
These words mean less than nothing to the unacquainted. The hardcore, eye-watering, almost painful laughter at the time was wonderful and continues to be, but trust me, you had to be there.
If I was reading this blog, I would be disappointed if there wasn’t at least an attempted explanation of the above in-jokes. However, having attempted to explain the first two, they are so embarrassingly weak, niche and specific that I’m afraid of leaching all humour from them, by trying to set these in-jokes free. Turns out, you really did have to be there.