Take my mother-in-law. No, take her please.
Mother-in-law jokes are as old as the institution of marriage – and even the Neanderthals may have poked fun at Her Indoors on their cave drawings.
But for Charlotte Dawson, who’s just celebrated her 20th birthday, it’s very much a learning curve.
Charlotte says her latest project has brought her closer to her late dad, comedian Les, than ever.
“I love the old jokes,” she admits. “I haven’t heard all this kind of stuff before. It’s really funny.”
She’s helped compile Les Dawson’s Joke Book (Michael O’Mara Books, £9.99) which has been published as a Christmas stocking filler. Picture Les’s reaction to that. Old jokes? Stocking filler?
Daughter Charlotte was eight-months-old when Les died but editing his jokes and comic writings has made her appreciate just what a talent was lost with his death.
“I’m really proud to be his daughter. And I hope he’s proud to know I’m following in his footsteps.
“To me he’s just dad. But you get to know a person when you study their hand writing and read their thoughts - and that’s what happened as we got this book together.
“It’s like reading a diary.”
Les’s widow Tracy asked Charlotte for help after finding the material while preparing to move from the former family home at Islay Road to near Cypress Point.
“I like the new place,” says Charlotte. “There are more people about. It was a bit boring where we were.”
The pair would like to open a comedy museum in Blackpool, not just in commemoration of Les but a celebration of all comedians to pass through the resort.
“It was seeing the Comedy Carpet which gave us the idea,” says Charlotte.
“We’ve got so much memorabilia it would be nice to share it with other people. We’re talking to Blackpool Council.”
Charlotte celebrated her birthday in Liverpool after an exclusive mother-daughter pampering treat at Ribby Hall, Wrea Green. “We had the works,” she says. “We stayed over too. Me, mum, my best friend and her mum. It was a girly treat. I’m a party girl. It’s in my DNA!”
Charlotte is building a name for herself as a comedy actress - and has been asked to appear in a remake of the classic Taste of Honey
“I enjoy doing modelling but there is more to me than that,” she admits. “I’d love to do straight acting and presenting. I think when it started off some people didn’t take me seriously. I’m not doing it because of dad, or because I want fame, I just want to do something I love really well.”
Mum Tracy admits: “She’s a chip off the old block. She has this glint of Les at his most mischievous.”
It’s not been easy for Tracy since moving out of the former family home. “It was good to make the break from the past in many respects but painful too.” It wasn’t helped when she broke her foot and heel and ended up with pneumonia.
“They say laughter is the best tonic and we’ve just sat and giggled through getting this book together,” says Tracy. “We’ve always been close, but this brought us even closer and made us reconnect with Les through laughter. If there’s anything which makes Les live again it’s the way he made me laugh and can still make people laugh.”
Charlotte adores her dad’s handwriting. “He was a great writer but his handwriting was lovely too - it’s like a girl’s writing.”
The book features a selection of Les’s classic gags, one liners and limericks, along with extracts from personal journals which offer the measure of the man. “The older I get the more I know how much he cared for people,” says Charlotte. “It makes me realise just why he was so special. It’s a great book for Christmas. It’s great for now. People need a good laugh, everything’s so morbid.
“I like genuinely funny comedians, Alan Carr, Michael McIntyre, John Bishop, who don’t use bad language and are nice people, like dad was. He was himself, not playing it up. He wasn’t a fake. So many are. I’ve done comedy now and know how good it is to hear people laugh out loud.”
Charlotte is in Tick-Tock the Musical in December at Ye Olde Rose and Crown, Walthamstow, London, where she impressed Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in WAGS the Musical.
Tracy concludes: “It’s the 20th anniversary of Les’s death next year. There’s talk of a documentary. I can’t believe it’s that long until I look at Charlotte all grown up. Les deserves to be remembered. I like Peter Kay because he has the same cheeky way my Les had. I love Ken Dodd because he makes time for people. Some just walk off stage and leave fans standing. Ken never does that. Les didn’t either.”
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