In his Fringe show, standup comic Philip Simon (aka Daddy Pig) reveals parenting lessons from the “porkside.”
There aren’t many people who when expecting their first child can say they “used to be a daddy”; at least not without some very serious questions being asked. But I’m someone who can, because before starting stand up comedy I was an actor, and one of my bigger roles was Daddy Pig in the stage production of Peppa Pig.
At the time I was 30 and single with no children, so I’d never even heard of the show. And that meant watching the show…yes, every single episode!
And that was fine, it was just research, but if I was on a date and we wanted to watch some TV, it would take some explaining that my recommended viewing list looked like it was curated by the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
it would take some explaining that my recommended viewing list looked like it was curated by the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Playing the (Daddy) Pig
Still, it paid off and I got the job, so spent the next 15 months of my life touring the UK and Ireland, ending up with a brief season in London’s glittering West End, playing the bumbling Daddy Pig. After a few years I went from living a very casual single lifestyle, into a serious relationship that very quickly led to some even more serious parenting.
Because I’m now a father to boys (our 2nd…or “last”…son was born in 2017) and I’m very hands on with all sides of parenting. And that’s partly school runs and nappy changes. But also, given everything that’s happening in the world today, it’s being conscious of our responsibility to raise them with an awareness of life in a post #MeToo era.
And this is something I started to explore when writing my Edinburgh show. That my sons are white, middle class boys, who will grow up to be white, middle class men (or women if they choose). Their whole lives will be nothing but unearned privilege and entitlement. So it’s down to me and my wife to ensure they learn the importance of their role in making society better, thinking about diversity, equality and feminism.
Raising better men
Themes we do see in Peppa Pig, by the way. It’s by no means perfect, but for a show that’s relatively clichéd, there are a number of episodes where the characters shun archaic patriarchal stereotypes. For instance, we see Daddy Pig doing domestic chores, and Mummy Pig being better at DIY than her hapless husband. All great things that, given their target audience, means perhaps a generation of children will grow up knowing it might be mummies that are stronger than daddies, physically and emotionally.
When our sons were born, in both cases they needed hospitalisation. Everything’s fine now, but for a whole week we lived with them on the neonatal ward, unsure what our futures held. During that time, no-one really asked how I was, but I was constantly being told I needed to be strong for my wife.
Now, you’ve not met my wife, but she is an amazing woman, without whom our children would be feral! I can assure you she does not need ME to be strong for HER. What I needed was someone to be strong for me. Because despite all the amazing things happening in my life, I struggled to find the happiness in any of it.
It’s all very well Peppa Pig teaching children that girls can play football. Or that strong, independent women don’t have to give up their careers to have children (yes, I’m talking to you, Miss Rabbit!). But I wonder if we’ll ever see a more realistic episode where we discover Daddy Pig sitting in a darkened room questioning his very existence?
Who’s the Daddy Pig?
Venue: Banshee Labyrinth – Chamber Room (Venue 156,) 29-35 Niddry St, EH1 1LG
Dates: Saturday 3rd August – Sunday 25th August
Time: 12pm (ends 1pm)
Tickets: Free/PWYW (Pay What You Want)