Whatever happened to the art of telling jokes?
When I was at school in the 70s, a new joke was a prized possession, to impart to your mates on the dinner table and enjoy the kudos of raising a laugh from even the most hardened of your elder detractors.
They might have been rude, racist and formulaic, but everyone had one to tell. And there was always a new one doing the rounds.
Gags were endlessly adapted, stretched out for effect – and sometimes the stinkers and bad puns were the best.
A talented playground raconteur could reel off dozens of gags on the theme of elephants hiding in cherry trees or wearing sunglasses.
Many hours of fun were to be had perusing the mental dictionary to come up with improbable word-play scenarios.
The comedy circuit is bigger than ever, but now the Englishman Irishman and Scotsman era has disappeared, comedians just endlessly relate commonly shared observations like the vagaries of cheap coloured pop and the behaviour of old women in supermarket aisles.
They’re funny – but what has happened to the tales?
Instead of telling a joke, someone now points their mobile phone in your face and shows you where the vertical scroll button is, so you can parse through the carriage returns, to reach the tedious punchline at the end of a “comedy” text from a poor American website.
I now refuse to read these, and insist on being told the joke, most often leaving the surrogate comedian non-plussed and clueless. Jokes are disappearing and we are all the worse for it.
If any readers know any good new ones I can pinch, send ‘em in – I haven’t heard one for ages.