The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Jack Dee says empty nest? There’s nothing to be sad about

  • Jack Dee’s deadpan delivery and his co-writing are well-known. He also stars in sitcoms.
  • Admits can’t wait to see a day without being ruined by their kids. 
  • Comedian, 60, who lives in London, says they are capable of sorting themselves

Jack Dee, 60 years old, is known for his witty delivery. Jane is his wife and he resides in London. He has twin daughters aged 23 and 29 respectively. 

Children are one of the greatest things that can happen to anyone, but they also ruin your life. This is a serious risk. You can fool your friends and people in the park and say: ‘Isn’t it lovely having kids?’ Inside you’re screaming.

But Jane and I found when we said: ‘Isn’t it hard work?’ there were always parents who’d reply: ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. Caspar is so intelligent and such good company.’

When I was able to do the things that I liked, I prefer it. I remember saying to Jane: ‘I can’t wait for a day that doesn’t get ruined at some point by the kids.’ And she said: ‘Yeah, it’s tough isn’t it?’ That sounds harsh, but it’s healthy to admit. We were relieved of the stress.

Jack Dee, 60, (pictured) who lives in London, admits empty nest gave him tears of joy as he couldn't wait for a day that wasn't ruined at some point by the kids

Jack Dee, 60, (pictured) who lives in London, admits empty nest gave him tears of joy as he couldn’t wait for a day that wasn’t ruined at some point by the kids

Friends of mine sob over empty nests. But when you’ve got four children, the tears are of joy. Your children are loved. But we didn’t hesitate for a moment to wave them goodbye. It was always: ‘Thank God, we’ve filled the car with duvets and clothes, and they’ve got halls of residences and now they can find food for themselves.’

They were firm believers in the idea of making your own mistakes.

18 years old, I left England to spend nine months in Grenoble. My parents drove me to the railway station at Winchester — then didn’t hear from me for two weeks. My mum told me years later, she thought: ‘I’d quite like to know he’s still alive.’ Of course I rang my mum eventually. But it’s unthinkable today that a mother would let their child go away for two weeks and not worry.

I’d never track my kids on Facebook like some parents. That’s creepy. I’m there for them if they need help, but they have to sort things out themselves and are perfectly capable of doing so.

My tour was cancelled due to lockdown. I then wrote a book, “Fake Anguish Uncle”, about self-help and the industry. It’s a book of humour. If you can find counselling or psychotherapy that works for you, these people can be miracle workers, and I think it’s important we de-stigmatise mental health issues. There are many charlatans, however.

So I cover all the key dilemmas — relationships, parenthood, money and, yes, the empty nest. Sometimes, tough love is liberating.

Your Problem: Comedy’s Little Ray Of Sleet Grapples With Life’s Major Dilemmas, by Jack Dee (£20, Quercus).