By Emily Clark.
A “dictionary of disgusting new words” is amusing children, stoking their interest in language and seeking to answer the tough questions like: what do you call it when you are learning to count and get stuck on a number?
Well, you’d be countstipated.
Melbourne comedy duo Matt Kelly and Richard Higgins have launched Ickypedia — the dictionary of all things gross for people who are small.
“The book is one long list of newly invented disgusting words,” Kelly says.
“These are words that we think … kids need in their lives. They’re very valuable words.”
Kelly and Higgins perform live shows for “kidults” – not missing the opportunity to amalgamate – and say fictional phrases from Ickypedia like “grosstastic”, “nacholepsy”, “udderpants” often amuse both their young audience members and the accompanying parents.
“We like to make the parents and kids laugh at the same thing,” he says.
“There [are] some ideas in the book that are a little bit more complicated and we like the idea of the kids asking their parents what they mean.
“Like Vlad the Inhaler who’s a person in history who steals peoples asthma puffers.”
Like his eight-year-old self, Kelly says the kids’ favourites are always words about “poos and farts”.
“We are first and foremost aiming to make the kids laugh,” he says.
“I like origami harmi — when you cut yourself doing origami, or a paper cut.”
He also points out that chewing on aluminium foil is actually zinklegritting, the “goop that gets caught in the plughole” after washing dishes is congealies, and that “if amazetastic exists than grosstastic exists”.
“Udderpants” refers to underwear for cows (you might have guessed that one) and lambinate is “to squish something between two lambs”.
With a growing Facebook following, live shows at major venues including the Sydney Opera House and four successful book launch events so far, it seems many are keen to learn The Listies’ new language.
The 208-page book was also illustrated by the comedians and resembles a “’90s zine” using collage and drawings to tell each word’s story.
“Kids live in a really visually complicated world and we wanted to give them something that reflects that,” Kelly says, adding that the imagery and language sparks creativity and kids often take Ickypedia’s lead and turn inventor.
“We’ve had kids come up to us and go ‘I’ve invented a new word’ which is the whole point of this book,” he says.
"Here's a bunch of words we've invented and you can share them with your friends and family."
He recalls a girl on the stairs of the Sydney Opera House who said: "These stairs are scary so I'm going to call them scares."
"That feedback is excellent ... we've given them these words and they go off and invent their own," Kelly says.
"We jokingly tell the kids if they tell us a word, we legally own that word. They don't get to use that word anymore."
Comedy combined with the "play that kids do with language" appears to give The Listies' young audiences a unique learning experience the whole family can enjoy.
"Everyone in the family is laughing at the same thing," Kelly says. "It's really pleasurable to hear everybody laughing together."
This post originally appeared on the ABC and was republished here with full permission.
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