I have to admit that we were a little suspicious at first. Parker, our seven-year-old daughter, rushed back home announcing she had got the lead role in the school play. We were suspicious because, three years ago, she told us she was playing Mary in the Nativity play. We'd got very excited until we found out she was actually playing a shepherd but had simply refused to accept the fact. I put it down to her having my "performing" streak in the blood.
The thing is, even if she's awful, we'll tell her how wonderful she is – that's part of being a parent. My mum is not quite so tactful. I'm wavering over whether to invite her to the performance, as she seems to have developed a bit of a "truth drug" syndrome as she gets older. I wouldn't put it past her to say something like: "It was quite amateurish and she was totally off-key... but I enjoyed it... sort of." If she does come, she'll be under strict instructions to behave.
I'm not so lucky. My new show goes out tomorrow night and I have to brave the wrath of the TV critics. I'd forgotten how nerve-racking that is. It's not that you ever agree with them... unless they love you. It's just that you've put your heart into something for up to a year and then some armchair cowboy makes a sweeping comment about it and you feel like giving up. I always try to remember Kenneth Tynan's bon mot: "A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive." I actually re-phrase it, sometimes: "A critic is a man who THINKS he knows the way but can't drive."
I've only read one review so far – in 'Time Out', always a big mistake. It said that "if you're a fan of Joly's puerile humour, then this one's for you". I was actually rather thrilled with that, as 'Time Out' is an organ of intense self-reverence and not really my bag.
I was trying to imagine what would happen if they came and reviewed Parker's play. "The performers seemed to lack any semblance of adult awareness and at times appeared awkward and unfocused. The whole piece resembled nothing so much as an amateur school production and was intensely childish." We'd hide the piece from Parker and lavish her with praise until she happened to pick up the phone and have it read to her by my mother.
That's the problem with bad press – someone always tells you about it. Nobody ever rings to tell you about a good piece, but the bad always filters through. I remember Jonathan Ross telling me years ago that the best thing to do was never to read any reviews. I pooh-poohed him at the time (mostly because I was getting rave reviews for 'Trigger Happy') and told him that that was how you ended up living in a sycophantic bubble, unaware of what the real world thinks of your work. I'll bet he wishes that he listened to me now with his paltry £18m BBC contract...
The secret, of course, is to have total control over your project. If the show you put out is exactly what you wanted to make, then you can take any criticism square on, as you've done your best. The most difficult thing to take is someone blaming failings in your show when they are criticisms that you totally agree with but are way beyond your control. Comedy should never be made by committee.
For now, Parker is basking in the limelight and I'm so proud of her and know she'll do a brilliant job. But when it comes to career paths, I might suggest that she become a critic. The job seems a lot easier.
Dom Joly's new show, 'The Complainers', goes out tomorrow at 10pm on FiveReuse content