The Unbelievable Truth is possibly the best addition to the 6:30 pm comedy band on Radio 4. Listen to it and know the truth for yourself.
Monday’s edition contained revelations about Chinese funerals – they sometimes involve erotic dances or pornography (to get more people to attend, which boosts the honour shown to the deceased). The panellists started riffing on the usefulness of ice cream vans in military conflict: if you dropped ice cream vans with limited supplies of small change behind enemy lines in Afghanistan this would cause a distraction to the Taliban as they tried to find the correct change for their ice creams. Rufus Hound commented, ‘If there’s one thing we know about the Taliban, it’s that they hate change.’
Jeremy Hardy on the subject of the Zoo Quorum (he meant the newly abolished quango, the Zoos Forum), on Radio 4’s The News Quiz on Friday.
see more So Much Pun
The nurse, to quiet her babe, made use of a rattle, which was a kind of hollow vessel filled with great stones, and fastned by a cable to the child’s waist: but all in vain, so that she was forced to apply the last remedy by giving it suck. I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious reader an idea of its bulk, shape, and colour. It stood prominent six foot, and could not be less than sixteen in in circumference. The nipple was about half the bigness of my head, and the hue both of that and the dug so varified with spots, pimples, and freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous: for I had a near sight of her, she sitting down the more conveniently to give suck, and I standing on the table. This made me reflect upon the fair skins of our English ladies, who appear so beautiful to us, only because they are of our own size, and their defects not to be seen, but through a magnifying glass, where we find by experiment, that the smoothest and whitest skins look rough and coarse, and ill coloured.
Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, ‘A Voyage to Brobdingnag’, Chapter I.
That which gave me most uneasiness among these maids of honour, when my nurse carried me to visit them, was to see them use me without any manner of ceremony, like a creature who had no sort of consequence. For, they would strip themselves to the skin, and put on their smocks in my presence, while I was placed on their toylet directly before their naked bodies: which, I am sure to me was very far from being a tempting sight, or from giving me any other motions that those of horror and disgust. Their skins appeared so coarse and uneaven, so variously coloured when I saw them near, with a mole here and there as broad as a trencher, and hairs hanging from it thicker than pack-threads; to say nothing further concerning the rest of their persons. Neither did they at all scruple while I was by, to discharge what they had drunk, to the quantity of at least two hogsheads, in a vessel that held above three tuns. The handsomest among these maids of honour, a pleasant frolicksome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples; with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.
Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, ‘A Voyage to Brobdingnag’, Chapter V.
Earlier in the book, in ‘A Voyage to Lilliput’, the narrator describes how he voided his bowels for the first time since washing ashore and the Lilliputians carted his effluence away in wheelbarrows; later, Gulliver puts out a fire at the Emperor’s palace with his own, personal, built-in fire hose. In addition to the very accessible style of writing, this somewhat puerile interest in bodies and bodily functions has made reading the book quite a pleasure.
Ade Edmondson was interviewed by Lee Mack on Radio 4’s Chain Reaction on Friday (the format of the show is that one comedian interviews another and one week’s interviewee becomes the following week’s interviewer). He talked about his retirement from comedy towards the end:
You’ll think, I’m stuck. Do I have to constantly be this funny man? It’s a very big pressure to put on yourself. I equate it to, you know, I really like caviar. If you’re forced to eat caviar every day for 28 years, you’ll probably want something else – and that’s the same with comedy, I think, in the end. You really work at it and it takes up every ounce of your being and you have to think about it, you have to really concentrate all that time and constantly be trying to turn everything you ever hear into a gag. In the end, what are you doing? It’s weird. I just kind of lost the bug for that.
Lee Mack replied:
I know what you mean. A comedian once said to me, the problem with comedy is you can’t watch a sunset without trying to think of a joke about it. And I remember thinking for about the two minutes after that, I bet I could think of a joke about the sunset.
There are several of these hilarious and endearing animations available on YouTube or on the Simon’s Cat website.
Keith Chegwin has been in the news recently for apparently stealing other comedians’ jokes and posting them on his Twitter account. Barry Crier was interviewed about it on the radio (he didn’t approve) and at the end was asked for a joke. His contribution was:
A woman said to her husband, ‘Can we make love now?’
The man said, ‘Why now?’
She said, ‘The egg-timer’s broken.’
Clocks should be like women: they should stand in a corner, silently, and once a year receive a good servicing.
The elder Pip Bin in the wonderful Radio 4 comedy Bleak Expectations, ‘Chapter the Third: A Recovery All Made Miserable’.
Listened to Monday’s edition of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue yesterday, along with one from 1984. I was surprised at how much funnier it is these days. There were several laughs to be had in the older programme, but it was very low key, had a much smaller audience and seemed much more like what it purports to be – four old comedians making funny remarks. Today’s ISIHAC is much more professional – you can tell a lot, if not, all of it is scripted – the result being half an hour of brilliantly funny radio. The audience is much bigger these days, too. The applause at the beginning and the roar of approval and recognition that goes up when a favourite round is introduced or a running gag set up is one of my favourite aspects of the show.
Anyway, here for your delectation is a transcript of one round from this week’s edition (notable for a reference to one of my other favourite things in the world ever – Newsnight Review):
Jack Dee: OK, we kick off today with a round called Uxbridge English Dictionary. As English developed from various older languages, it has many different terms which appear to be interchangeable, but this isn’t always true. For example, there are people who don’t know the difference between the words oilskin and tarpaulin. Well, oilskin refers to a type of strong, flexible, water-resistant material, often canvas, protected by a skin of oil, usually linseed oil. Whereas tarpaulin is that miserable Irish bloke on Newsnight Review.
However, meanings are constantly changing, teams, so let’s hear any new definitions you may have spotted recently. Tim, you can start.
Tim Brooke-Taylor: Flabbergasted: appalled at how much weight you’ve put on.
Graeme Garden: Ambulate: a hearse.
Barry Cryer: Monkey: bit like a monk.
Jack: And Sandi.
Sandi Toksvig: Camper van: van with more sequins than the last one.
Tim: Wince: a setting on Jonathan Ross’s washing machine.
Barry: Monogamy: celebrating New Year in Scotland by yourself.
Graeme: [in pirate voice] Radar: an attack by pirates.
Sandi: Algorithm: former Vice President on drums.
Graeme: [in pirate voice] Doodah: a cool pirate.
Sandi: Dependent: Italian indication of a hole made with a biro.
Graeme: [in pirate voice] Bazaar: Barry the pirate.