The filthiest joke in the world…

Kate Copstick and John fleming - Grouchy Club Podcast

The Grouchy Club Podcast – I am incapable of telling a joke

In this week’s 27-minute Grouchy Club Podcast, comedy critic Kate Copstick and I talk about performer Matt Roper and Wilfredo being robbed in New York… Chris Dangerfield & Ricky Grover… Lewis Schaffer & Bobby Davro… How I am currently locked inside my own house… Copstick’s involvement in actual bodily harm… Taboo comedy, shaggy dog stories & bad taste jokes… And the old adage that tragedy + time = comedy. But the filthiest joke in the world also came up in conversation.

This piece is also a classic example of how I am incapable of telling a joke effectively. Because I have a shit memory. I may have mentioned that before.


COPSTICK
…It’s like when the marvellous Paul Provenza made a documentary film called The Aristocrats.

JOHN
…about the filthiest joke ever.

COPSTICK
Well, I kept hearing about this film The Aristocrats and ‘It’s brilliant!’ and I thought: What would it be about? About posh people in comedy? Comedy about posh people? And then they did a special showing of it at the Edinburgh festival and, the minute they started, I went: Oh! It’s The Debonaires! Because, in Scotland, the joke is The Debonaires.

I think, in the UK, tagging it with The Aristocrats is just not funny, because it’s got this fantastic… Well, you tell it…

JOHN
We’re not going to tell it. The whole point about this joke is it has to last as long as possible. You can probably see it online.

COPSTICK
Yeah. Some people do it with more actions, some people do it with more swearing, some people make it last longer than others. I first heard it about a hundred years ago in Scotland done in broad Glaswegian and then when you get… Oh, so, eh, what’s it called? – Well, we call it The Debonaires!…

JOHN
… because the whole point about the joke is you have to be as filthy as possible and then, at the very end, the supposed punchline is actually an up-market, clean, sweet name. I heard the reverse of this joke at Granada TV, Manchester in – God knows – it must have been the late 1970s, early 1980s, but it was the reverse.

COPSTICK
The reverse?

JOHN
It was called Porky. It wasn’t a showbiz joke; it was a joke about a family. There was this sweet boy who was the son and you had to do sweetness and light and love and bluebirds flying and everything glorious for as long as possible and then, at the very end, the person in the joke says: What’s his name? and the answer is Porky… No… You say that at the beginning of the joke… His name is Porky and then there’s all sweetness and light…

COPSTICK
This is not going well, John, as jokes go.

JOHN
I can’t tell jokes… His name’s Porky…

COPSTICK
So we establish at the beginning of the joke that the boy’s name is Porky…

JOHN
… and, for as long as possible, you do everything sweet and light and beautiful and lovely and, at the end, the person in the joke says: And why is he called Porky? And the answer is: He fucks pigs. So you have beauty and then…

COPSTICK
Right.

JOHN
…and then there was a reverse of that and I can’t remember what the reverse was. It was similar to The Debonaires, where you have to do filth and then it’s a clean ending. And it actually wasn’t as funny as Porky, because the whole point about the joke is the skill in the telling of it. It’s not actually the joke. The joke is not funny. It’s the telling of it.

It’s quite easy to make it interesting if it’s all four-letter words and filth. It’s really difficult to make it last and last and last if it’s sweetness and light and prettiness. So there’s actually more skill in the reverse one where the punchline is He fucks pigs, but everything else before that is Sally Sunshine.

There was a bloke at Granada (Graeme Wells) who could tell it brilliantly. People just lined up to hear him tell the story.


This week’s full 27-minute Grouchy Club Podcast is HERE.

And there is a trailer for the very highly-recommended Aristocrats movie on YouTube.

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