Was this gag really worth the lolly?

Ross Wagman on the £5,000 ice-cream joke winner

Originality is quite difficult when it comes to puns. We may have an ever increasing vocabulary but moulding those words into a coherent set up and a humorous punchline may occasionally result in two people thinking of the same joke at the same time or recreating someone else’s you may never have heard of.

Puns may not be everyone’s favourite type of joke, although I’m sure everyone has laughed at one at some time and has probably even told one too. I once received some late-night Twitter bullying from a ‘telly’ comedian who wasn’t too impressed with my offerings. Oscar Wilde can rest easy with my output, Tim Vine too.

I have sprees of writing them, sometimes I can go months without bothering, occasionally I will get a push to write and waste hours thinking of some. A recent effort was for a competition reviving the lolly joke.

Anyone of a certain age will remember those lolly jokes with affection, munching down the last bit of a strawberry split just to read the punchline. They were occasionally funny, rarely original and sometimes downright ridiculous, but always good fun. Apparently they stopped in the late 1980, that was when the rot set in and my dentist advised against eating any more.

A bonus was that this competition had a grand prize, actually a five grand prize. The competition had a refreshing clause that all jokes would have to be original. I could say I spent the next few days locked in a closet with just a pen and paper for company, scribbling down idioms and phrases looking for the funny, I didn’t, we have a very full closet and it only has one of those stick on lights from a pound shop, so it only gives two minutes to write in.

But I did write quite a few. To me they were original, my guess is that it may not be too difficult to find something similar to one or two of them.

There were some impressive original entries, several that were better than my offerings, there were also several old jokes in there – “What’s ET short for? He has little legs” – and some that made no sense whatsoever, for the record, it’s setup, punchline, not an overly difficult concept.

There was apparently a short list of 25, I’m bitter to report I wasn’t on it, despite being one of the few retweets.

The winner, however was one I considered a pretty ancient joke: ‘Who is in charge of the hankies? The hankie-chief.’ A quick search on Google gives this joke going back at least 30 years to a generic joke book/

The competition was run by Cadbury, so now I am obliged to write such things as ‘I won’t milk it’, ‘the rules seemed a bit flaky’, ‘there’s one Bourn(ville) every minute’ and something obscure about Old Jamaica, I will resist mentioning fruit and nutcases.

Here are some of my better losing entries:

Which creature prays for fried potatoes? A chipmonk

What do you call a Yorkshire auction website with no teeth? Ebay Gum

I've just swallowed a dictionary, now I'm waiting for vowel movement

I've just booked myself on a very unpredictable cruise liner, sometimes you have to push the boat out

What do you call a policeman who plays music all day? An Iplod

I may be appearing in the next series of Britain’s Got Talent, I just need to train my dog to time the punchlines better.

Published: 25 May 2012

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