We shouldn’t take advice on how to be fun from our parents’ generation

Especially FT columnists

Another day, another person as old as your Mum calling you out for being less fun than them. Usually these guys ground their claims in the Everest of stats out there that show people aged 18-24 drink less, drug less and shag less than their parents. But not today. Today, according to Lucy Kellaway of the FT, we’re shit because we don’t have any office banter.

Kellaway is writing about an acquaintance who’s a partner at a law firm:

The sort of japes he and his peers engaged in as associates in the 1990s are now inconceivable. They would slip random words like “teddy bear” into the middle of draft prospectuses to see if anyone noticed. They would nip into the managing partner’s empty office and send terrifying messages to unsuspecting colleagues.

Now, there are a few things I could say here, but firstly, what the fuck is funny about slipping a word like “teddy bear” into a legal paper. By what measurable standard is that amusing? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt though, after all if they’re claiming their generation was that much more fun than ours, they must have something better than “teddy bear”. Kellaway continues:

Last week I hunted down some of the graduate trainees who have been at the FT for about 18 months. How many practical jokes had they played or had sprung on them at work, I asked. Not only was the answer none but they appeared not to understand the question. I found myself regaling them with the japes we used to get up to. I told them about the time a colleague sent out a message to the entire staff purportedly from a particularly know-all young economics leader writer asking: “Who is Alan Greenspan?” The trainees laughed politely. None seemed amused.


Guess what? Nobody wants advice on being funny from a generation who watched Jim’ll Fix It when they were kids and watch Mrs Brown’s Boys as they fade into their dotage. A generation of Oliver Letwins who were way more racist, way more sexist and way more homophobic than we are. If being less of those Bad Things means we don’t find that riveting anecdote about Alan Greenspan funny we should be congratulating ourselves.

Silliness isn’t the art form Kellaway thinks it is. It’s annoying and cringe, tired and embarrassing. It’s your Dad asking you “have you ever heard of Frank Ocean” and walking out of the room in disgust. It’s Rio Ferdinand’s World Cup Wind-Ups. It’s slightly gross hidden cameras, it’s pinching secretaries bums and the inevitable tribunal that follows, it’s Jeremy Beadle’s weird little hand, it’s both the word “jape” and the entire concept of “japing” – it’s inserting the words “teddy bear” into legal papers and thinking you’re the funniest person alive.

Nothing about this is good

Nothing about this is good

Maybe we are more serious. But I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve lived through all Blair’s failed oil wars, been haunted by economic and environmental crises, wasted thousands of pounds on shit London rentals, watched the best minds of your generation get sucked up by the most boring financial companies in the world, endured the traumatic rise of Dapper Laughs, only  to be consoled by the thought, if it all goes completely wrong and you lose your shit job in recruitment: at least Uber are looking for drivers.