It’s almost impossible to be funny and to be cool at the same time. Achieving either can take a bit of effort, but only one is genuinely life-enhancing. Cool can come and go in a moment, but funniness only gets funnier, as well as giving you the skills and resilience required to style out any situation.
I didn’t know this when I was at school, and I longed to be friends with the girls who laughed at me and my ridiculous mates. But we were learning to laugh at ourselves, and now I realise that we were having a much better time.
This is why it’s great to surround yourself with hilarious ‘weirdos’.
1. The school disco is a thousand times more fun
Sarah Baxter, since we turned 13 I must have been to a hundred weddings, gigs and parties, but I’ve never seen moves that were anywhere near as memorable as the crab dance you busted out at the Year 8 Christmas dance with the boys’ school. At first, I felt silly and self-conscious in my jeans and t-shirt, aware of the class monitor smouldering in the shadows, looking amazing in the Topshop velvet mini that my Mum had forbidden me from buying. But the second Sarah got on the floor, knees bent, hands out, and danced to the Spice Girls like she was under the sea, I was over my skirt envy and clutching my sides while making an odd honking sound.
The rest of us had a great time when we joined in with the crab dance, even though we weren’t dancing, just rolling on the floor laughing. It was the first genuine ROFL I’d ever experienced.
2. Your most embarrassing moments become your best material
It’s easy to treat school as a dangerous, potentially humiliating battle ground where you risk looking foolish every day. It’s harder – but definitely happier and better – to think “I am definitely going to do something stupid, shameful and embarrassing. Cringing never killed anyone, so I just need to think of it all as comic material.”
Like the time I turned up to Chemistry and realised that the lab coat I’d picked up from Lost Property was, in fact, a tablecloth. I thought about hiding in the toilets until the next lesson bell went, but instead I flung it around my shoulders like a cloak. My mates were mildly hysterical – and I had the first and last laugh.
3. Instead of flicking your hair in front of boys, you can get them to fall about laughing
For a long time, I thought that if you fancied someone, the best way to get their attention involved having big boobs, wearing lots of make up, and ignoring them, occasionally sneering and saying something sarcastic. That was until my friend Millie had a birthday party that was packed with boys, and they all seemed to be in love with her. How did she do it? How did she find the boys? Fit Josh explained while the class monitor stared at him with her mouth open. “Millie is the funniest person I have ever met! And she’s always talking about how hilarious her mates are! There’s no way I could miss this!”
4. You never need to worry about being caught out
As a grown up, I’ve met girls who were “cool” at school. Even though I envied them at the time, they’ve said that it was once of the most stressful experiences of their lives, much harder than sitting exams, going to university and enduring job interviews.
One anonymous friend told me “We all had to have the same haircuts – short and blonde on the top, long and dark on the bottom. I genuinely thought that if any of my friends caught me with a ladder in my tights, my life would be over. I don’t remember ever relaxing. I was secretly jealous of the girls who just seemed to mess about, the ones who didn’t care about being perfect.” Whereas I was so relaxed in my LOLlish nerdiness that I once kicked a pair of knickers out of my jeans on non-uniform day and said, without missing a beat, “they’re for when I wet myself laughing”. Boom.
5. Every day feels like you’re starring in a sitcom
Most of the great comedy writers work in teams, and say that nothing makes you more creative than collaboration. Well, when you’ve got pals who are always prepared to see the funny side, and you’re always one-upping each other’s one liners, you reach a point where you all feel funnier than the imaginary love child of Tina Fey and Amy Schumer. School isn’t always fun, but when seeing your mates brings you more laughs than a Simpsons triple bill, you almost look forward to your first Monday morning maths lesson.
So, if your chums make you chortle so hard that you’re in frequent need of resuscitation, it sounds like your billion dollar sitcom deal is right around the corner. But even if your funniness goes no further than the school gates, having friends who embrace silliness and joy is more valuable than having an ASOS code that gets you 90 per cent off. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it always makes you feel better. No-one ever cured anything with cool.