Tag Archives: Ireland

Comedian Lynn Ruth Miller gets a cold – and very warm – reception in Dublin

Lynn Ruth in Dublin at the weekend

Irrepressible and unfathomably energetic 85-year-old London-based American comedian and occasional burlesque performer Lynn Ruth Miller has been off on her travels again.

She has just returned from six days performing in Dublin.

She did not get a warm initial welcome.

The occasional Colonial trans-Atlantic spellings are hers.


Every time I go to Dublin, the weather is wet, windy and cold. It is utter hell to be walking the streets of this city with the rain turning umbrellas inside out and making puddles so deep you can swim in them.

This time I decided I would visit when I KNEW the weather would be gorgeous.

I thought.

I arrived at the airport in the middle of a sudden rainstorm where the temperature plunged to mock winter and I shivered through my comedy gigs all week.  

Summer in Dublin is only a concept, not a temperature.

But the comedy scene there is growing by leaps and bounds.

Each time I go, there are more clubs and all of them attract good audiences who love to laugh and love to drink even more. For me, THE club is always The International, run by Aidan Bishop. It is the one club that never sees color, sex, age or disability. Aidan gives everyone a chance to perform and pays them for doing a show for him.

It is a small room above The International Bar with no sound system and it has a casual feel to it. It feels like we are all together in someone’s living room telling jokes.  

Doing comedy at The International teaches you how to project your voice so everyone can hear you. If you swallow your punch lines you might as well be talking to your mirror. People have to HEAR you to laugh with you.

John Francis Smith was amazing…

I started doing my comedy in Dublin at the International almost ten years ago and that first time I performed there was an older barman who stood behind the bar at the back of the club. His name was John Francis Smith.  I was told he had been working there for forty years. He was amazing at his work. He managed to serve everyone in the ten-minute intervals and still find time to race through the room to pick up empty bottles and glasses.  

That first time I saw him, he said: “You were really funny….” And, after that, he always made an effort to stop whatever he was doing and listen to my set whenever I performed.  

I used to worry each time I took to the stage that I wasn’t giving him any new jokes, but he didn’t seem to care. He always made an effort to say hello and tell me it was good to see me.

This year John Francis Smith was not there.  

He died suddenly on March 8th and for me it was a huge loss.  

I always loved being on stage and seeing him standing there at the back listening to every word I said. It made me feel noticed and very important.

In Dublin, I always stay with an amazing family who take care of me as if I were royalty. There are three boys in the family and they all love to cook.

I come from the generation where men went to the office and women stayed home to cook and clean house. I still remember the first time I saw a man actually do the dishes. It was back in 2003. I reacted as if he had just ripped off his clothes and started dancing in my kitchen.

The daddy of my Dublin family keeps kosher but he has adjusted the fact that two of his boys are vegan. He also cooks. He baked kichel (Jewish biscotti) and yummy cauliflower soup that everyone could have eaten if he hadn’t added crème fraîche to it. He loves chicken soup with K’naidles (Jewish dumplings) but, in deference to his sons, he has it in vegan chicken soup.  

While he was creating his dinner, one son was busy making vegan daal and chapatti while the other was dining on ramen with corn, seaweed and mushrooms. There is always someone cooking something in his house. It is like living in the midst of a revolving smorgasbord.

With Richee Bree (left) & Danny O’Brien at Laughter Lounge

As well as my gigs at the International, the centerpiece of this trip for me was a weekend gig at The Laughter Lounge. So I found myself doing two gigs on Thursday and Sunday and three on Friday and Saturday. It involved a lot of walking back and forth but, since everyone in this town operates on Irish time, I was never late for my sets. 

I figure I made more than 2,000 people laugh during this six-day stay and that isn’t bad for an old lady.

My first gig in Dublin is always the Wednesday show at Jonny Hughes’ Anseo and performing there feels like a homecoming for me. I have been performing at this small but beautiful space for at least six years. It was created by Aidan Killian who still books me for HIS clubs in the Bangkok and Singapore, but Jon took it over the place almost immediately because Aidan has always done so much traveling.

Sundays in Dublin are always wonderful because I drop in at Danny O’Brien’s’ Comedy Crunch where the audience gets in for nothing and gets free ice cream at the break. Although why anyone in their right mind would want ice cream when the temperature in Dublin feels like it is below zero with wind and rain is beyond me.

From there I go to the International for my final performance. The Irish like their whiskey and begin greasing up at four in the afternoon at the very least. Most of the shows begin at nine p.m. and, by that time, the less hearty are three sheets to the wind and the tougher natives are just beginning to feel the alcohol they have been filtering into their system for the past five hours.

My last night in Dublin was Monday at Cherry Comedy in Whelan’s doing jokes for a relatively sober group a bit more settled and older than the weekend crowds. Then the Woolshed Baa, which was originally Al Porter’s venue until he disgraced himself.

Lynn Ruth being fruity at Cherry Comedy

The comedy club continued and it is always well attended and a good finale to my Monday series of comedy gigs.

One of the perks of returning time and time again to a city is that I have accumulated a lot of people who know me and make an effort to see me and spend time with me. I am beginning to feel like I have an Irish family just as I have one in Berlin and one in Bangkok, Jakarta and Singapore, not to mention those I left in San Francisco.

At the rate I am going I will most likely have an international crowd at my funeral.   

Though I am not at all sure that is reassuring.

Next is Stockholm, where it probably will be balmy compared to Dublin.

My God it was cold there…

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Lynn Ruth Miller in Dublin – on Irish comedy, Ryanair & middle-aged women

Lynn Ruth – Where will she turn up next?

Lynn Ruth Miller, itinerant American comic based in London, has blogged here about her gigging jaunts to exotic locations in the last few months. She spent last week gigging in Dublin. She writes…


I have been headlining at Anseo, this lovely small room on Camden Street, for at least four years. It is run by a prince of a man named Jonathan Hughes who has built the club up from nothing into a comedy staple on the Dublin scene.  

I did a 40-minute set for him and discovered that the Irish are still squeamish about some of the landmark decisions that have come down from their higher courts.  

I made a reference to the woman whose rapist was not convicted because she was wearing a lace thong. Either they didn’t get it or didn’t want to.  

But they did love the one about all the pipes leaking in Dublin’s ancient buildings. They also got the one about how my generation killed their roaches and now their young people smoke them.  

Thursday night was my first night at The International Comedy Club: the reason I return every six months to do comedy in Dublin. It is run by Aidan Bishop.

All comedians complain about the glass walls we need to break: the unsaid prejudice toward women, minorities, disabilities and age.  

Aidan gives everyone an opportunity at his club and, not only that, he always pays his comedians fairly. To make the experience even nicer, there is always a good audience at The International. That means everything to a performer. It is a lot easier to tell your jokes to 100 people than it is to 20, no matter how badly those 20 want to laugh.

Friday night was my big night. I was booked in three comedy clubs.

I left the International (it was packed with standing room only) to get to Anseo’s new Friday night where twenty people were waiting for me (the headliner) and then off to Comedy Gold, Emily O’Callaghan’s’ new room, where there were a dozen people remaining to see me, the late night headliner.  

The interesting thing about all these rooms is that I arrived ten minutes late to every one of them and I still had plenty of time to unwind before I went on stage. Evidently, Irish time is like Jewish time… very flexible. This rarely happens in London. You almost always go on very close to the time you are scheduled. The English pay attention to time.

The Irish comedy scene is growing and very solid yet everyone I talk to there wants to come to London where they think the action is. I certainly felt that way in San Francisco… but now that I am back home IN London I wonder whether wherever you are doing whatever you do, you always think the market is more open somewhere else.

One of the things that makes my Dublin trips so marvellous is that I stay with this magic family that reminds me of an episode of Leave it to Beaver: a happily married couple with three amazing sons and a tight, loving family unit with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents all intricately woven into their lives.  

When I am there, I am treated like another granny: fed, pampered and transported to my gigs.

This is an immense novelty for me as I have lived a very long time and usually make all my arrangements, get myself to wherever I am going and make sure I am properly fed.  

For these short periods in Dublin, I get all the rewards of being a grandparent in a large functional family without having done any of the groundwork.  

I never fool myself however.  

If I had had my own family, my children would have been so over-indulged, they would have become psychopaths and serial killers.

Judging by the caliber of the men I fall in love with, my husband would  have been a conscienceless misogynist with a whip and a gun in the closet to keep me in line and I would have spent my days scrubbing toilets and ironing shirts, never dreaming I could live a life without a dust mop and a sponge.

On Saturday night in Dublin, there are two shows at The International and both are always filled. This time there were two new comedians. One was Robbie Bonham, who is in his forties and has that wry Irish wit that always amazes me.  

I am convinced that a great deal of comedic ability cannot be learned.  

It was Bonham’s very Irish-ness that made his jokes even funnier.  

I know that being Jewish has always given me an edge – and black comedians usually have a dimension to their delivery that adds to every joke they tell.

As our world becomes more diverse and television and the internet reduce our differences, I suspect this will not always be so. The more we assimilate, the more we lose those special ethnic characteristics that add flavor to our jokes and our conversation.  

Much as I applaud universal acceptance of everyone everywhere, I think this loss of ethnic identity is a loss for us all in so many ways. I know we are all alike essentially, but there are attitudes and mannerisms that are handed down generation to generation that I hate to see homogenized.

This intense week in Dublin convinced me that I love the performing life. It does not tire me. Instead, each show I do inspires me to go further and do better.  

Is that what being professional is all about?  

Or is it the stuff of a nervous breakdown?

Sunday was my last performance at The International and it was wonderful.  

Sunday night is normally a slow night but this night it was very crowded.  

I was in the first section and David McSavage was the headliner because he is on TV and is very famous in Dublin. The interesting thing about this night was how diverse the audience was. We had a huge segment from France, so English was their second language… and a girl from Lithuania who had no idea what was going on. But we all managed to hit a responsive chord and the evening was a success despite the immense cultural diversity of the audience.

The Irish have a way of taking you into their hearts and the family I stay with make me feel very loved and important. However, I was brought back to reality sharply when I approached Ryanair on the flight back. Rules are rules and, by God, you are going to pay if you don’t follow them.

I saw a man who could barely speak English (and obviously did not understand the regulations), gulp down a huge bottle of tea as fast as he could. The poor fellow gurgled as he sloshed through the line and I couldn’t help thinking: How on earth would that container of tea with all the tea bags in it have endangered anyone but the poor guy who had to drink it so he wouldn’t have to pitch the container?

I have seen the personnel at Ryanair pat down a tiny baby and all I can say is I hope the kid had a giant poop as the inspector checked out his diaper.

The other interesting thing about this trip was the number of single women in their late forties and fifties who are feeling unfulfilled. They are at that “Is this all there is?” stage of their lives. 

Do men get that feeling? Or do they just put another porn film on the computer and wank off?

These women I met in Dublin were all earning good livings, but still feel they want more than coming home to an empty house with perhaps a dog or a cat to greet them.  

There is no way I can explain to them that these are normal clouds before the rainbow splashes gorgeous color on a grey sky. It is very much like what Winston Churchill said: “When you are in hell, keep going.”  

Middle aged femininity is not hell at all, but it often feels very bland.

For some reason, none of us realize that the best is yet to come.

But it is.

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Simple explanation of the Irish problem

With all the hassle over Brexit and the Irish border, I think it would be wise to bear in mind these two simple explanations of the British Isles, taken from 1066 and All That:

“The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa).”

“Gladstone… spent his declining years trying to guess the answer to the Irish Question; unfortunately, whenever he was getting warm, the Irish secretly changed the Question.”

One explanation of the British Isles (there are many conflicting explanations). This one on MapPorn

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Comedy genes in one Irish family?

Kate Talbot with her 2014 Cunning Stunt Award

Kate Talbot with 2014 Cunning Stunt Award

A month ago, I blogged about Irish comic Christian Talbot and his now 13-year-old daughter Kate who jointly won the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award last year and who are both performing at the Edinburgh Fringe next month. Christian is currently doing previews.

“How’s your daughter?” I asked him.

“She’s now booked in for I think it’s two – might be three – dates for Comedy4Kids and Bob Slayer sent me a message:

Hey! The good show you talked about on Fleming’s blog – Let’s do it on the bus! We have Grace the child (11) and Robin (3) who are both performing on the bus.

Bob Slayer’s BlundaBus

Bob Slayer BlundaBus currently in Croydon; soon Edinburgh

Bob Slayer has a double decker bus – the BlundaBus – as one of his Edinburgh Fringe venues this year.

“I sent him dates when Kate was over,” Christian told me, “but then he didn’t reply. I think he’s got caught up touring with Electric Eel Shock (Bob’s Japanese rock band) and then with the BlundaBus. I must email him again and refresh his memory.”

“So are you encouraging Kate to be a comedian?” I asked.

“I don’t really want my daughter to be a comedian though, if she’s good, I’ll happily take the money. She’s interested in doing it and, if she wants to do it, then… It just really depends on whether she enjoys it. We’ll just have to see.

“She can write phenomenally well. Her teachers are just blown away by her writing. The only trouble is she gets distracted by doing that to the detriment of anything else – her maths, her languages and the other stuff. She just wants to read books and write stories. She did this thing for school where she had to describe what it was like to be a cliff.”

Kate and Christian Talbot

Christian Talbot – not an éminence grise, just a proud dad

“A what?” I asked.

“A cliff. And she was talking about the weeds coming up out of it, like the dead fingers of sailors who had crashed against the rocks. I’m very proud of her. And some of her stuff’s quite dark.”

“Got her parents’ genes, then?” I asked.

“Gayle and myself went to Queen’s (University, Belfast) and we were the only two people to do the same degree. We both did English and Anthropology – social anthropology. Kind of learning about cultures. But I started off doing chemistry and physics and computer science and then I changed because I didn’t like it. I was good at chemistry; I just didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life.”

I told Christian: “I think my chemistry master emigrated to New Zealand because he couldn’t face teaching me any more. I always came last – except once when I came next-to-last in the class – and he wrote on my report: A fair try. He emigrated shortly afterwards. He probably thought his teaching career had peaked.”

“I remember,” said Christian, “going to the Head of Chemistry at university when I finished my first lot of exams and asked: Is this what it’s going to be like? Just doing titrations and bunsen burners and beakers and working in a lab? And he said: Yup, pretty much, unless you’re very lucky and you get into petrochemicals and work for somebody like Exxon or Esso or BP or Shell. That didn’t really appeal to me, so I changed courses.”

“Has your wife Gayle got any performance genes?” I asked.

Gayle Hayes with Christian Talbot

Gayle Hayes with Christian Talbot – a showbiz couple or not?

“She did stand-up a couple of weeks ago in Belfast. She did a course on stand-up with a load of other new people and wrote a thing but she had no interest, really, in performing it. She enjoyed the writing and the creating part of it. So she got up and read it off the sheet. Her heart wasn’t really in it and I asked her: Do you want to do it again? She said: No. She just doesn’t have that need – that void – that comedians have… I have to get up and say something!

“Gayle doesn’t admire it particularly. She just thinks there’s something lacking in people who want to get up and show off and talk about themselves. She’s right, of course!”

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No farting records in Ireland in 1999

I have to admit to laziness… I cannot face listening to and transcribing an admittedly interesting two-hour recording this morning so, continuing occasional extracts from old e-diaries this week…

In October 1999, I was in Ireland. This is one day’s entry.


Irish flag

Ah, the things my electronic diary never shows. Like, the chat today with a tennis-playing guest at my Dublin hotel about Soviet economic policy and a man called Pat Murphy in Cork who was matey with Lenin, Trotsky and all the rest in 1917… Then there was the blind woman I met on a train and took to the other station for a trip to Portadown… And having a fight with Hertz about hire cars at Dublin Airport and changing to Avis, then losing my return air ticket and finding it again elsewhere… Ah! the things that disappear on a day-to-day basis..

Today I drove from Dublin to Limerick (just under 200 km) in a hire car. In a very Irish way, it seems that road distances are given in kilometres; the speed limits are in mph; and car speedometers are like the British – in mph but with tiny km equivalents underneath.

The Irish seem to drive slightly slower than the British, but make up for it with some seriously dangerous overtaking on blind bends and on straight stretches with oncoming traffic. The other disconcerting thing is that traffic lights go from RED to GREEN with no amber in between, so it is always a shock when the green lights up.

mrmethanebendsIn the evening, I drove to Shannon Airport to phone my mother and my chum Mr Methane – the world’s only professionally performing farteur. He had left a message on my answerphone back in England. He told me his website had registered 400,000 visits in the last month and that he was selling £6,500 worth of CDs a week, mostly to Americans, because his record is being played on local radio stations over there.

He has zoomed ahead of me in internet terms, talking about exceeding his bandwidth, side entrances and all sorts of unknown technical phrases. At least, I think they were technical phrases.

He phoned me up because he is thinking of moving to Virgin for his internet service, as they give 10Mb rather than 5Mb of webspace plus unlimited bandwidth. This means nothing to me but, says Mr Methane, “It’s like a bicycle. Once you learn how to ride, it’s easy to learn more and more.”

I did not tell him I can’t ride a bicycle.

He told me his record cannot be heard on Irish radio because the stations here feel they cannot play lyrics like “the brown eye”.

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Sean Nolan’s Joke Manifesto: Ideals & Systems of Value for Stand Up Comedy

The Edinburgh Fringe starts officially in six – actually in four – days time. Comedians are desperate for attention. I received an e-mail this morning. It read:


Sean Nolan, young Irish comedian

Sean Nolan, young Irish comedian

Hi John, this is Sean Nolan I’m a comedian performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, my show is entitled and informed by THE JOKE MANIFESTO a document I wrote over the past year outlining logical and universally applicable ideals and systems of value for stand up comedy.

I just thought since reviewers and judges of stand up don’t possess or make evident a consistent and transparent criteria for quality, I might propose to you my model as a solution.


Sean is Irish and last year won RTE’s New Comedy Awards (You can see a clip on YouTube.)

Sean’s agent’s website says “his first gig was on January the 27th of 2012 at the age of 23”.

On 8th July this year, Sean posted on his Facebook page:

BBC and all the papers keep going on about how it’s been 77 years since a British man won Wimbledon so I wanted to find out when one would win it again, so I wrote down all the years a British man had won Wimbledon and then changed the years to sequential numbers like the first British player won it in 1877 so that’s number 1 then again in 1878 that’s number 2 and then after 30 straight wins there was a few years gap so 33 and so on anyway Murray ended up being 137, and then I put the sequence into an online sequence calculator to see what the next number in the sequence would be and in what year the next British winner would be, after like a half a second it came up my sequence then a few dots while it calculated what the next number would be, more dots then it just flashed up FALSE!
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,33,58,59,60,137,……FALSE
I can only assume this means there will be no more British champions, sorry GB enjoy this while it lasts.

Sean has posted his Joke Manifesto online. I re-post it in its entirety below, even though there is no mention of knob gags nor of Asperger’s Syndrome, surely two comedy ‘bankers’.


THE JOKE MANIFESTO
IDEALS AND SYSTEMS OF VALUE FOR STAND UP COMEDY

But will he be wearing a beard at the Fringe?

But will Sean have a beard at the Fringe?

1 How to value stand up comedy?

1.1 The function of the stand up comedian is to make the audience laugh.

1.2 But laughter is subjective and conditional and such an inaccurate measure of value.

1.3 Laughter is only the final measure of value and must be considered on an average of performances.

1.4 If laughter is the last measure of value, how to value stand up before it is performed? What is the first measure of value?

2 When the comedian first writes or thinks of an idea, the first measure of value is originality. Is the idea new? (new at the time of writing at least – it is impossible for the comedian to be aware of every joke previously written, although it is ultimately beneficial to strive for this.)

2.1 If Originality is the first measure of value, everything new has value at the moment of writing, and so everything of no value i.e. everything unoriginal, must be removed from the writing – obviously jokes that already exist, which should also include all old hat comedic tricks and mechanics. i.e. the rule of 3, exaggeration, repetition, juxtaposition etc. (It is understood that a comedian has a knowledge of these almost universally repeated mechanisms.)  As such no improvisation should be planned or performed if the comedian can at all help it; in the moment of improvised performance it is impossible to always come up with original ideas.

2.2 Once everything unoriginal has been removed the comedian is left with new ideas, new potential jokes (bearing in mind the end goal of making the audience laugh).

3 So now the question changes from how to value stand up comedy to how to value these new ideas (potential jokes )

3.1 To measure the true value of a joke, all embellishments on the joke (anything that would alter the value of the joke later on) must be removed – i.e. unnecessary language or performative elements.

3.12 Language should remain simple and efficient whenever possible, unless the rhythm or specificity of the joke demands it. The cleverness should be in the idea of the joke not in the words used to describe it. Sometimes the most efficient or immediate way of communicating the idea will not be words at all i.e. drawing or prop.

3.13 Performative elements can only be added if they are specifically relevant to the individual joke.

3.4 If the comedian continues to remove all unnecessary performative elements, ultimately the comedian may disappear from the performance, his/her jokes presented with less and less of the writer present.

4 But they are his/her jokes and as such there is an honesty, an honest pride or at least an honest ownership. The comedian wants to stand in front of his/her jokes and receive the response from the audience. This prevents the comedian from disappearing.

4.1 Unless the comedian is performing jokes they did not write themselves, then there is no honesty of pride or ownership and they should disappear

4.2 Now established that honesty is key, it should come into all aspects of the performance i.e. the comedian should deliver the jokes in an honest way i.e. not with a false enthusiasm or faux conversational style or as if the jokes were somehow coming off the top of his/her head and the performance wasn’t a highly written considered recital. As such the comedian can read his/her jokes off a piece of paper, notebook, hand etc if they choose. The comedian should not be judged on his/her lack of memory.

4.3 With an honest delivery a joke will develop a natural unforced rhythm and cadence, depending on how many times it has been performed, from the nervy first tellings, to the peak of its value when the comedian has organically and perhaps subconsciously figured out the best way to tell it, and finally to the decline and ultimate death of a joke when the comedian has told it too many times and is tired of saying it and this comes across in the delivery. This honesty in the delivery shows the audience the natural lifespan of jokes, the comedian’s feelings towards each one at a given time, and creates a more honest connection with the audience. The comedian is showing each performance can and will be slightly different, not just tricking them into thinking so.

4.4 With the comedian on stage in front of his/her jokes there is now an internal discourse concerning which jokes the comedian is comfortable telling – i.e. potentially offensive, sexual or self deprecating – which would not be present if the jokes were presented with no trail back to their creator. The comedian should not be trying to offend anyone although that can be an acceptable byproduct of a successful joke. In terms of ironically offensive jokes, some members of the audience may not perceive it ironically and get offended or laugh cause they are prejudiced in some way. The comedian cannot be responsible for how his/her jokes are perceived, as long as there is an honest attempt to be funny first.

5 Now the Ideal for stand up comedy is established: the honest delivery of original unembellished ideas or (potential jokes).

5.1 But how to value the individual joke? Again originality is used as the initial measure of value. Ideas that are more original are valued higher i.e. ideas that if given the object (the thing the joke is about) of the joke the least amount of comedic writers (with Twitter, the audience is now a potential comedic writer) would come up with.

5.2 I have created a 3-tiered system of value based on the uniqueness of view needed to write a successful joke (meaning the set up and punchline are as intrinsically linked as they can be i.e. the joke is truly about the object of the joke).

5.3 System of value for jokes

5.3.1 (the lowest tier)  The word based joke. The hinge of the joke is based around the words or name of the object of the joke. i.e. if you were to write a joke about an arm, arm being the object of the joke, the word and sound arm is the first thing that comes to mind.

5.3.1.1 The lowest form of word based joke (again requiring the least thought) is the pun. The word has two meanings. As such you already have the hinge and just have to contrive a way to utilize both.

5.3.1.2 The next level of word based joke is the rhyme (or similar sounding words). A slight increase in thought is needed to get a possible hinge for a joke.

5.3.1.3 The highest level of a word based joke is a rearrangement of letters. Again there is less immediacy and it requires more thought to come up with a possible hinge.

5.3.2 (The middle tier) The sensual joke. After the word the next type of information that would come to the comedic writer would be sensual: what the object looks like, sounds like, feels like etc. (There is an overlap with tier one in terms of what the word looks like i.e. the word shark looks like a shark, onomatopoeia etc.)

5.3.3 (The highest tier) The functional joke, observing and studying how the object works, what it does and how it interacts with other objects, successful jokes created at this level can be aphorisms or truisms. The level of thought needed in order come up with a hinge for a joke is at it’s highest.


That is Sean’s Joke Manifesto and self-evidently (even with the absence of knob gags) how you successfully publicise an Edinburgh Fringe show.

 

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The man on the Dublin omnibus

As I have virtually no time to write a blog today, here is an extract from my diary on this day in 1999. I was working at television station RTÉ in Dublin. I have changed the names:

Siobhan started talking about how her 10-year-old son who, she says, is uncoordinated with absolutely no sense of direction. Then she got a tea and some toast on a plate and sat down on the settee in Reception; she put the plate on the arm of the settee but was unable to hold the cup without spilling tea, so had to stand up: co-ordinating a cup in her hand while sitting static on a couch was too much for her.

We went into the RTÉ canteen at around 1115 and it was full. Apparently everyone takes a 30-minute tea-break at 1100 and a 30-minute tea-break at 1530, as well as their one-hour lunch break.

Siobhan told me that, last night, she dreamt she had run away from RTÉ and from her family and become a freelance earning a lot of money. She met film star Tom Cruise (to whom she claimed she’d never particularly been attracted before this dream) and he was very interested in how much she earned.

Over lunch, Sean told a story about someone he knew who, when in a bus which stopped next to another at traffic lights would attract the attention of a passenger in the other bus, then motion as if he knew and wanted to contact the person sitting in front of the stranger. Invariably, the stranger would tap the shoulder of the person in front, who would turn round and Sean’s friend would turn his head to look directly forward as if he had never even noticed the other bus let alone encouraged one stranger to tap another’s shoulder.

Taking off from Dublin Airport late, at about 2140, I had a window seat and, over England, I could see all the towns and cities below me: electronic spiders’ web nerve centres spreading delicate orange fibres outwards into a sea of blue-grey black.

Arriving back home in Borehamwood, I found a postcard from David Jenkins. It showed: “Oil platforms and the Cromarty Firth at dusk”…. That’s what comes of being a Socialist like David. You think postcards of Albanian electricity sub-generating stations are glamorous.

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