Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Alternative Universe

Try, Try Again
Written by: Doug Fowler

Joey takes a job for a bit in "But Seriously, Folks," Jesse leaves early, schedule goof w/home daycare leaves D.J. babysitting. Steph's answer, calling Phyllis Diller, brings changes for Joey, early engagements, twins born earlier, and other changes

A/N: As I noted in The House Is Still Full Danny would insist on a nearly one-on-one caregiver; a home daycare, not a center. One can't fault writers in "But Seriously, Folks," though. They ignored home daycares and the playgroup in "Joey's Place." But, for a playgroup mother to be able to suddenly drop everything and open her home five days a week (they took turns once a week) was less likely. It was an okay short term solution.

I used my nanny idea in the above fic, but what about the playgroup? Here, a mom can help quickly, and Joey gets a job. (KFLH likely had his resume on file and knew his education and such; hiring Jesse with no background or resume is possible, but unlikely. Still, Joey's specific job isn't important.) Jesse feels more pressure, and moves out a month or so ahead of "The Seven Month Itch." Danny doesn't know he will, though.

Part One - Try, Try Again

"I'm sure Jesse would be happy to watch the children once," Danny Tanner said.

His daughter, Stephanie, who had turned six last month, looked sad as Danny talked on the phone that Sunday evening. "So much keeps changing," she muttered.

Her nearly eleven-year-old sister, D.J. stroked her hair and consoled her. "Tell me about it. A year ago, it was Mom watching the playgroup once a week; it was yours at first." Their baby sister, Michelle, was fifteen months old; it was now her toddler playgroup, with Stephanie in Kindergarten. "Mom died in the spring, then Uncle Jesse and Joey came to live with us." She sighed. "Now, Joey has a job, Uncle Jesse's still got one. And, one of the playgroup moms has opened her home up as a home daycare for us."

"Hey, Deej," Joey said with compassion. "Thinking about your mom?"

"Yeah, a little. I think Steph wishes you were funny again. I mean, you can be funny at home; even if you aren't at your new job."

"Aw, face it, Deej, I'm jinxed when it comes to comedy."

"No, you're not," Stephanie insisted. "You know what they say. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It must be important; they say 'try' twice." She turned to D.J.. "That's why they don't just say 'try again,' right, Deej?"

D.J. shrugged, glad to have her mind off the problem. "I guess."

"So, come on. One Popeye laugh."

Joey forced himself to smile; he really didn't like being serious, but felt he had to stay away from goofiness if he was going to do well. Still, he was at home. "Oh, all right." He gave his Popeye laugh, and Stephanie and D.J. gave him a big hug.

"Way to go. We knew you could do it."

"Thanks, Steph. Now, I better get ready for tomorrow." Stephanie noticed it was her bedtime, too; she'd learned to tell time well recently while recovering from chicken pox. She started up to bed, too, with Danny following to tuck her in.

Someone should have been listening to the conversation, but wasn't. Jesse, Pam's brother, had told Danny he planned to take the afternoon off. In reality, he felt so much pressure, with D.J.'s birthday party that they'd held a few days early, and other things, that he was thinking of leaving. Danny figured he just wanted time off, as he preferred music to his dad's extermination business. Plus, Danny was in a bit of a hurry anyway.

Danny wrote a note for Jesse to be sure to be home at three. Jesse didn't read it, though.

The next day, D.J. and Stephanie arrived at the playgroup mother's home after school. They had time for cookies and milk. It was her turn in the playgroup. Danny was a sportscaster, so he'd be working later. Normally, the woman in question would have watched her boy, plus two others, in addition to D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle, for a couple hours till Jesse or Joey got off work. Not this time, though.

"Thanks," D.J. said as she opened the door with the brand new key Danny had given her. She let herself, Stephanie, Michelle, Dustin, and Ryan in; Dustin and Ryan were four.

"Have fun," Stephanie said as the woman departed.

"Steph, she's taking her boy for a checkup."

"Oh. In that case, tell Dr. Landress we said 'hello.'"

D.J. didn't tell Stephanie that she wasn't sure if they had the same pediatrician. Instead, she called out, "Uncle Jesse! Uncle Jesse?" as Stephanie ran upstairs. She pointed at Dustin and Ryan. "Freeze!"

"Why?" Dustin asked.

"Because I said." D.J. rolled her eyes. "That was so Dadlike. Look, our Uncle Jesse's going to be here in a minute…"

"Then, why is his stuff gone?" Stephanie asked from the top of the steps.

"What?" She put Michelle in her playpen, said "Let's play 'Follow the Leader,'" and smiled proudly for coming up with that. "What are you talking about, Steph?"

"Look. And, here's a note." Stephanie tried to read it as the others arrived in Jesse's room. "Can you read it? I can't read the big words that well yet. It says something about needing something to break."

D.J. sighed and took it. The others sighed, too, and pretended to take papers, figuring it was part of the game. That got Stephanie to start playing "Simon Says" with them. "Dear family," D.J. read, "I need a break from all this. Maybe part of it's not having Joey to back me up. I love all of you, but I need some time for myself." She read another moment, and then turned to Stephanie. "Steph. Remember Grandma Irene's number?" She recited it after a second. "Good; go call her, and ask her to come over."

Stephanie started to run, and then Dustin called out, "She didn't say 'Simon Says.'"

"Simon says go call," D.J. said in frustration. "Okay, your moms are shopping, do either of you have answering machines? I don't remember." Both nodded. "Okay…let's see, do I call?" She frowned. She'd found herself really missing her mom at her birthday party. Now, she wished she was here even more. After a moment of thinking, she said, "No, I can hold down the fort till Grandma Irene comes here." That was Jesse's mom; Jesse's dad worked in the extermination business with him.

Stephanie ran back in from Danny's room. "She wasn't home. I left a message saying to come over." She paused a second. "Why did I do that?"

"Because, right now, I'm in charge. And, I have some decisions to make; first, Steph, make sure Michelle's still in her playpen." D.J thought out loud as the boys jumped on the bed. "Yes, you can jump on that," she told them. "Kimmy won't be much help." That was her weird and dumb best friend. "Grandma Tanner's up in Washington. The others aren't home….boys, stop that!" They had begun wrestling too roughly. She managed to separate and settle them after a moment. "Let's go to the basement while I think." She saw Stephanie entertaining Michelle from outside the playpen. "Keep doing that. Oh, do you know your friend Allie's phone number?" She wasn't sure. "What's her last name?"


"Great, should only be about 200 of those in the phone book." She decided not to have Stephanie try to call Allie's mom; instead, she'd entertain the boys while she tried to think. Joey had many toys and puppets and such. She knew she could keep them from fighting that way for a while. Once in the basement, she called Jesse at the number he'd left on the note, and left a message saying to come back, as nobody else was there.

After a few minutes, Stephanie and Michelle came downstairs. "Deej, what did Uncle Jesse mean…?" She caught a nerf ball that was thrown at her.

D.J. suggested they try to keep it in the air without it touching the ground. She popped the ball in the air, then encouraged the boys to keep doing it themselves. Michelle tried to join in, but D.J. was worried the bigger boys might bump into her accidentally, so she distracted her with another of Joey's toys.

"Deej," Stephanie asked again as she kept trying to keep the ball in the air. "Why is all of Uncle Jesse's stuff gone?"

"Well, maybe he went on vacation."

"Come on, Deej. Even Uncle Jesse wouldn't take his Elvis stuff on vacation," Stephanie said. "At least I don't think so."

D.J. admitted that was true. "The note said something about Lake Tahoe. That might be where he is." She tried not to sound too unsure, so Stephanie didn't get scared. She shook her head. "If only Phyllis Diller hadn't been there."

"Was she that woman we all laughed at?"

"Yes; except Joey never had time to do his stuff. She was there for two whole hours; if she'd just talked for a few minutes that talent scout might have had a chance to hear Joey." She caught herself. "Okay, look, let's not worry about the past."

Stephanie said, "Well, if she did something wrong, she should apologize."


"I'll go call her." D.J. didn't have a chance to stop her as she ran upstairs.

"Come on, Michelle." She picked the toddler up, and realized the boys had started to tussle, after both tried to hit the ball and hit each other. "Boys, no." She used Joey's phone, and called his workplace; the number was there, as well as in the kitchen. He wasn't in, but his answering machine picked up. "Joey, the sitter had a doctor's appointment, but Uncle Jesse left home and took all his stuff, his note says he needed a break. The other moms aren't home, I'm trying to entertain two of the boys from the playgroup, and I'm dying out here. You've got to tell me how to be funny to keep these kids from fighting." She hung up, and realized she'd forgotten to mention that Stephanie was trying to call Phyllis Diller; which just added to the confusion.

She shrugged, and went upstairs. Weirder things had happened.

Stephanie had failed to get anywhere with the operator when she asked for the number. Then, as D.J. called Joey, Stephanie remembered the name of the place where they'd been. So, she called there; the number was in the little phone book by the kitchen phone; she could read the words well enough to guess. "It's something important about when Miss Diller was there. Can you please give me her number?" she was saying.

"Steph, who are you talking to?" D.J. sat with Michelle on her lap as she took the phone and tried to sound grown up; or, at least teenage level. This wasn't hard, given her desire to be the best. "Hello, who is this?...Yes, my sister was trying to call Phyllis Diller because…Yes, we saw her there….I'm sure you will get more scouts.…Fan mail? That's fine. My sister just gets so excited. Thanks for understanding." D.J. wrote the fan mail address on a piece of paper while Stephanie tugged at her shirt. "Listen, you wouldn't happen to know the name of the talent scout who was there?...Right. See, Joey Gladstone, who takes care of us; he had a routine all ready that night just because he was there…I see, that makes sense, then. Thanks for explaining. Goodbye." She hung up.

"Did you talk to her?"

"No, that's not usually where she'd appear; she's really famous. The owner knows someone who knows her. He wanted her to come because they were showing off the place to that talent scout, hoping it would inspire him to put in a good word for them. So, when she showed up, his friends got the crowd to push for her to do a routine so the talent scout could mention the place to others."

Stephanie tried to soak up all of what D.J. had said, and finally inquired, "What does that mean?" It was a bit too complex for the Kindergartener.

D.J. thought for a second; she could talk over her sisters' heads at times. "I guess it means the talent scout wouldn't have listened to Joey, anyway. He was only there so they could get some publicity by having Phyllis Diller appear. That way, more talent scouts might come later…." D.J. appeared lost in thought for a second, as the boys made lots of noise downstairs. "Steph, try to occupy them; play school or something." She left, and D.J. called Joey again. This time, he was in. "Hey, it's D.J.."

"Deej, is everything okay?"

"Yeah, listen, about where you were supposed to perform last time, I just got off the phone with them." Joey asked why she'd called. "Steph called because she thought she could reach Phyllis Diller. Anyway, here's what I found out." She told Joey about the plan. "So, see, that scout wasn't going to listen to anyone else, anyway."

"Well, Deej, that just proves nobody will listen to me," Joey said. D.J. sighed as he added, "Did you try calling Jesse's mom? I can come home now if you really need me; I got your message and was just about to call. They understand you're home alone there."

"Yeah, she…" D.J. paused a second, then whispered to Michelle, "I just had an idea." She told Joey, "She won't be able to make it. Could you please come home; those boys are driving me crazy. You know, the ones who like to fight each other." Joey said he'd be there in half an hour or less, considering rush hour was already starting; normally, he'd have worked till six, and it was only about 4:20. Danny got home around 6:30 before going back for the late news; if Joey worked late it was possible he'd be home after Danny left again, though not likely, but he'd figured Jesse would be there.

Stephanie, meanwhile, had tried to get the boys to sit still, raise their hands, and other stuff in Joey's room. Finally, she came upstairs with them. "This class is making me bananas," she told D.J..

"Hold on, Grandma Irene." D.J. turned to Stephanie. "What is it?"

"Can we take these boys to that address the people gave you? Maybe Phyllis Diller can entertain them," Stephanie suggested.

"Steph, the address is just a post office box."

Stephanie was puzzled. "Phyllis Diller lives in a post office?" she asked with incredulity.

"No…I'll explain later." She turned back to her conversation with Jesse's mom. "…Yes, Grandma Irene, everything's fine now. No, you don't need to come over. Thanks for calling, though." She hung up.

Stephanie looked at D.J. with great puzzlement. "I thought you wanted her to come."

"I did, but Joey's coming, he'll be here in half an hour or so."

"But…Grandma Irene's only a couple minutes away," Stephanie said.

"I know. Look, I need to change Michelle's diaper, keep them entertained, but to a minimum, don't do too good a job."

Stephanie scratched her head as D.J. carried Michelle upstairs. "Don't do a good job? I must be missing something," she told the boys. Since they'd been smaller when it was Stephanie's playgroup, they did listen to her a little.

As D.J. was changing Michelle's diaper, the phone rang. She figured Stephanie had gotten it downstairs, and she had.

"Ryan's mom's on her way to pick him up; she'll be here right away," Stephanie said as D.J. came downstairs.

"Okay, we need to stall her." Stephanie looked confused. "The best way to get Joey to be funny is if he sees two kids tussling who he needs to stop and then entertain."

"Ah, now I see." A knock was heard on the door; D.J. carried Michelle and put her in the playpen while Stephanie opened the door. "Sorry, you can't take Ryan home yet. We have to stall so Joey can try to keep them entertained by being funny."

D.J. patted Stephanie on the head. "Just don't tell Joey, okay?" She explained things to the mother, who agreed to let Ryan and Dustin play for a while. She went into the kitchen - D.J. had instructed Stephanie to get her some food. That would keep her from spilling the beans. D.J. could watch the boys while watching the door, too, so when Joey came up the street, she could step outside and motion for him to come in the front.

By the time Joey arrived home, ten minutes later, Dustin's mother was just disappearing into the kitchen, too. D.J. tried to distract him from seeing Dustin's mother as the boys tussled on the couch, flinging cushions at each other. "Joey, you're just in time."

"Wasn't that…Dustin's mother? I thought I saw their cars."

"Right, it was," D.J. ad libbed. "the moms are even having trouble; it was crazy!"

"Well, kids can get pretty riled up if you let them get out of control." He began doing cartoon voices, which got their attention. Within a couple minutes, he had the boys settled down completely and listening.

D.J., meanwhile, had snuck into the kitchen and brought out the mothers, who applauded the comedy act after another minute or so.

Joey smiled at them. "Deej, did you set this up?

"Well, we were home alone…"

"…Except she told Grandma Irene not to come when she called back," Stephanie said.

"Right. But, the important thing is, you were funny today," D.J. said. The women each said they thought Joey was terrific.

Joey couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah, I guess I was a little bummed out by not having that talent scout listen. Especially because it's been two whole months since I did that tour of college campuses; I was sure I'd hear something by now, that was supposed to be a big break. But, you're right. People are going to enjoy me outside of my family. Besides, funny is what I always wanted to be, anyway." He gave his Popeye laugh.

Jesse came home that evening, as Stephanie was ready for bed, and Danny was heading back to the station to work on the 11:00 sports; Michelle was already in bed. "Oh, Danny, did Joey make it home?"

"Yes, he did," Danny said with a smile. "He's decided to quit his job and go back to comedy." Jesse sighed as he sat on the step. "Jess, D.J. showed me the note. You know, since Joey's going to be home all day now…" he trailed off.

"Aw, it's okay, man. You know, it's funny. I worried about all this pressure for over a week, and all the demands on my time, I thought it was just too much. But, when D.J. called and said they were home alone…man, it just reminded me of how much those girls need me. I'm such an important part of their lives. Bein' here's just opening up parts of me I never knew were there."

"So that means you're staying? Great!" D.J. exclaimed. The others agreed.

"Yeah, it's great. Even you girls, and your silly plans. It really is fun here."

Danny added, "You think that's silly, you should hear what happened this afternoon." He told them what D.J. had done to get Joey to go back to comedy.

D.J. agreed. "Yes, but Steph's ideas are way crazier. Do you know who she tried to call?"

At that moment, Joey came in from the kitchen. "Hey, Jess, you're back. Just in time for the great news, too; you'll never guess who I just got off the phone with!"

"The way these things go, I'm going to guess Phyllis Diller," Danny said half-jokingly.

"Right, how'd you guess? Anyway, somehow, she heard about how I'd been so anxious to perform in front of this talent scout, so she got my number from the comedy club. We talked for about fifteen minutes. She was really apologetic and all; she couldn't make any promises, but she said she'd try to arrange something."

"I guess my ideas aren't so crazy after all. Are they?" Stephanie asked her older sister. D.J. chuckled and mussed her hair.

Joey was stunned as he learned how that had happened. "Wow, thanks, guys. It's so great to know I have a family here that's always encouraging. You know, even if I don't make it really huge nationally, I've got the best support any comic could ask for."

"Yeah, same here," Jesse concurred. "I've got so much support, and I get so much joy out of helping everyone here."

"Yep; and we'll always support you girls no matter what. Although, I hope you never become a master spy or anything like that, Deej," Danny kidded her.

"Don't worry, Dad. Although for half an hour, I did do a decent job of babysitting till I decided to let go, so if you wanted to pay me, you could, at least with Steph and Michelle." Danny promised to consider how to figure out what she'd earned. "Thanks. I'm just glad everything's back to normal now." Stephanie was, too.

"Me, too. It's like I told her on the phone just now, I guess I really didn't want to give up comedy. I just needed someone to tell me I still had it. Thanks, guys," he said, as everyone hugged.