Culture House Daily

Cringe at the Fringe: are these really the ten funniest jokes from Edinburgh?

22 August 2014

2:10 PM

22 August 2014

2:10 PM

According to a poll, the funniest one-liner at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe was a joke about a vacuum cleaner: ‘I’ve decided to sell my hoover… well, it was just collecting dust’.

Tim Vine, the man responsible for this curious bit of word play, said he was surprised to have won the coveted award. Presumably he hadn’t seen the rest of the top ten jokes, which ranged from cliché (‘I wanted to do a show about feminism. But my husband wouldn’t let me’) to stereotyping (‘Scotland had oil, but it’s running out thanks to all that deep frying’) and risky (‘Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say to me. Which is why he lost his job in disaster relief’).

A rum lot, I thought, but then I was somewhere between defrosting a chicken and deleting my emails when I read them. Maybe if I’d heard each gag performed as part of a set in sunny Edinburgh I’d have been chortling with the rest of them. It would take an audience who are already warmed up to enjoy jokes like these – or so I thought.

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It turns out a panel of critics drew up a shortlist from several thousands of jokes they had heard at various Edinburgh shows, and put them to a public vote anonymously. Two thousand people, I am told, voted in an online poll directed by TV channel Dave, self-professed ‘home of witty banter’. Two thousand people saw these jokes written down, wholly devoid of context and performance, and still found them worth voting for? One feels they would have been better off attending a sermon.

Some of the jokes on the alternative list, the ‘Top of the Flops’, had more style. This one at least made me smile: ‘I had a friend called Iain. Two ‘i’s…. to go with the face’.

Bewildered, I look at the ‘funniest’ jokes again, and ponder their themes: hoover, badger, toilet paper, husband, deep-frying, marriage. No FOMO sufferers, these voters, browsing websites like Dave from their armchairs, watching their vacuums gathering dust. The list, in fact, is brilliant. I may just be the only one incapable of finding comedy in domestic banality.

The 10 ‘funniest’ jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2014:

  • 1. ‘I’ve decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust’ – Tim Vine
  • 2. ‘I’ve written a joke about a fat badger, but I couldn’t fit it into my set’ – Masai Graham
  • 3. ‘Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say to me. Which is why he lost his job in disaster relief’ – Mark Watson
  • 4. ‘I was given some Sudoku toilet paper. It didn’t work. You could only fill it in with number ones and number twos’ – Bec Hill
  • 5. ‘I wanted to do a show about feminism. But my husband wouldn’t let me’ – Ria Lina
  • 6. ‘Money can’t buy you happiness? Well, check this out, I bought myself a happy meal’ – Paul F Taylor
  • 7. ‘Scotland had oil, but it’s running out thanks to all that deep frying’ – Scott Capurro
  • =8. ‘I forgot my inflatable Michael Gove, which is a shame ’cause halfway through he disappears up his own arsehole’ – Kevin Day
  • =8. ‘I’ve been married for 10 years, I haven’t made a decision for seven’ – Jason Cook
  • 10. ‘This show is about perception and perspective. But it depends how you look at it’ – Felicity Ward

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Show comments
  • startledcod

    I can see humour in most and am a fan of Tim Vine’s work but I cannot see why the efforts at 8= are even jokes, I don’t understand.

  • Lamia

    They are all okay, but none of them are side-splittingly funny. The winner and some of the others raised a weak smile. 2 and 3 are reasonably amusing but didn’t have me howling with laughter. I don’t get the feeling I’ve missed much if these are the cream of the crop.

  • Ron Todd

    I’ve decided to sell my hoover after all it is just breaking the new EU directive dictating how we can clean our own homes.

  • Chris Pollard

    Euthenasia.com are offering long stay holidays in Switzerland

  • Chris Pollard

    My wife got touched up by the baggage handler at the airport who said he was only doing his job

  • Chris Pollard

    We’ve lived most of our married life from hand to mouth which isn’t very nice after you’ve been to the toilet

  • Chris Pollard

    I’ve just been on my first glamping holiday and our caravan got glamped on our first night

  • Chris Pollard

    My wife decided to run with the bulls in Pamplona and we’re expecting a heifer next Spring

  • Chris Pollard

    I’ve just sent my suitcase on holiday with Ryan Air I couldn’t afford to go myself!

  • bengeo

    Never trust an atom. They make up everything!

  • David davis

    Two atoms were walking down the road. One suddenly felt his pockets and yelled…”Help! Help! I’ve lost an electron!.

    His chum, looking worried, replied: “Are you sure?”

    The other shouted: ” Yep! I’m positive!”

  • Fergus Pickering

    I think the winning joke is funny. As for the others…

  • teddyboy

    There were two caterpillars on a lettuce leaf munching away when a butterfly fluttered by. One caterpillar said to the other “You’ll never get me up in one of those.”

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRDILYQqUkM Shenandoah

      That’s very sweet.

    • David davis

      Hey that’s actually funny, unlike the winners …

  • Chris Pollard

    I sweated blood for my Plasma TV

  • Bel-Shammaroth

    It just shows that a good joke doesn’t have to be funny.

  • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

    There was a time when my circle of friends would categorise jokes according to the number of pints it was necessary to consume before they would seem amusing. I suspect the theatres’ bars had been doing good business prior to the voting.

  • Chris Pollard

    I have to admit Tim Vine grows on you

    • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

      Sour grapes?

    • John Byde

      Like dry rot

  • Stephen Milroy

    Dyslexia is a cnut. I will be amazed if THAT ONE makes it through the censors!

    • Chris Pollard

      It’s KO!

    • GraveDave

      They probably think you’re talking about the king who tried to turn back the tide.

      • Bel-Shammaroth

        Dyslexics untie!

    • David davis

      Then of course, there was the agnostic dyslexic insomniac, who lay awake at night … worrying and … Wondering If There Is A Dog.

  • Archibald Heatherington

    Well, I didn’t laugh once reading this article. I own two of Vine’s DVDs and one of his joke books. They’re very funny. And they picked that joke? That’s the best example of his work they could find? #%&@ off.

  • Innit Bruv

    Groan!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chris Pollard

      Glad you liked them

  • Shenandoah

    but then I was somewhere between defrosting a chicken and deleting my emails when I read them
    Now THAT’S good!

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Common sense jokes are the best medicine eg buying a house is like having a baby..it’s best not to tell anyone in case it all falls through ( or you get gazumped).

    PS. this joke may of course be shared as necessary or appropriately, without fear or favour.

    • Chris Pollard

      Better without the gazumping reference I think – it suggests that nobody would understand the joke without it.
      I remember a ‘Blue Peter’ presenter asking a 14 year old girl if her twin brother was identical? Now that’s really funny

  • Chris Pollard

    Heard about the schizophrenic who kept joining himself for a ‘selfie’?

  • NedMissingTeeth

    When did comedy die on the BBC?

    • Stephen Milroy

      Probably in the 90’s when they embraced comedians who were trying to be ‘edgy’ as opposed to being ‘funny’.

      • Chris Pollard

        That’s why they call it the Edinburgh ‘Fringe’ because it’s ‘edgy’

      • Bel-Shammaroth

        Most TV comedy was always predictable and only very mildly funny, but only most of it. The decline probably dates from the time when the Beeb was taken over by self-important, homourless, state-corporate suits.

        • Chris Pollard

          You’re showing your age – when I began watching TV there was only the BBC and EVERYONE wore suits (and ties), and spoke with a plum in their mouths. Women were rarely seen
          We all have different tastes in comedy. I’m in my 70’s and love The Inbetweeners, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Friday Night Dinner (all very highbrow). But I also enjoyed Hancock’s Half Hour, Steptoe and Son, Til Death Us Do Part and Love Thy Neighbour
          Maybe I’m just easily amused

          • Bel-Shammaroth

            That’s nice.

      • Stephen Green

        Apart from being vulgar and coarse what other attributes does edgy so called humour have? Whit it certainly lacks.

    • Chris Pollard

      When Tommy Cooper collapsed and expired on stage

  • Chris Pollard

    I’ll be with you in a nod and a wink said the sleeping policeman

  • Chris Pollard

    Any more corny jokes and I’ll box your ears

    • MikeF

      Don’t be so flaky.

  • Chris Pollard

    This clockwork radio is a wind up

  • Chris Pollard

    The thief who stole my ginger nuts was just taking the biscuit

  • Chris Pollard

    What the heck are we laughing at said the hyenas finding a pile of bones

  • Chris Pollard

    The couple completely lost the plot when they were gazumped

  • Chris Pollard

    Mocha is just not my cup of tea

  • Chris Pollard

    I’d have bitten your arm off to be a cannibal

  • Chris Pollard

    The drunk on the floor in A&E was off his trolley

  • Chris Pollard

    My pregnant daughter swears the baby isn’t hers

  • Chris Pollard

    Finding life on Mars is hardly rocket science

  • Chris Pollard

    My cut price vasectomy was a snip

  • Chris Pollard

    I thought the Edinburgh Fringe was a Scottish Brazilian

    • Unenlightened_Commentary

      This one’s good, I’m not sure about the rest….

      • Chris Pollard

        I’m not sure about the rest either but I tried to keep them clean

  • Chris Pollard

    Just made up a few jokes this morning – any good?

    • anna

      Superstitious, me? Nooo – that’s really unlucky.

      • Chris Pollard

        I’m not superstitious at all -touch wood!!

  • HJ777


    =8. ‘I forgot my inflatable Michael Gove, which is a shame ’cause halfway through he disappears up his own arsehole’ – Kevin Day”
    Where is the supposed joke in that? It’s just abuse designed to appeal to those with a certain political view.

    Incidentally, I would object to it being called a joke whatever the political alignment of the subject.

    • Barakzai

      It’s right up there with oh-so-witty Mark Steel’s ‘humour.’

      • Unenlightened_Commentary

        The sad thing about Mark Steel is that when he actually does move away from his “It’s all Fatcher’s fault” stuff he can be funny. His Radio 4 series on the quirky histories of some of Britain’s towns is genuinely amusing.

        Yet 90% of the stuff he does is crap and could have been told 30 years ago at a Red Wedge gig.

  • lookout

    The alcoholic addicted to brake fluid, reckons he could stop anytime, boom boom.

    • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

      Two elephants fell off a cliff. Boom boom.

      • Chris Pollard

        What do you call a man with a seagull on his head? – Cliff

        • Stephen Green

          What do you call a man with a BBC helicopter on his head? -Richards.

      • Chris Pollard

        If Welshmen didn’t shag sheep there’d be no Englishmen
        Boom Boom Boom Baaaa!

  • Baron

    Give Baron Bernard Manning, Frank Carson, Charlie Williams … any time.

    • MikeF

      Yes Charlie Williams who would stand in front of a largely ‘white’ middle-aged audience and address all the women with the question : “Now come on admit it how many of you when you were little girls were told by your mothers that if you were naughty a big black man would come and get you?” An initial few embarassed laughs would then be followed by a more general raising of hands before Williams delivered his riposte: “Well I’m here.”

      • DrWatt

        Now that was funny – I mean that – I did genuinely laugh at this – great stuff from Charlie Williams.

        As for the so-called 10 funniest jokes at the Fringe – they didn’t even raise a smile for me. Comedy today is either stage for preaching lefties or silly schoolboy humour – I mean this joke that won best joke – ‘I’ve decided to sell my hoover… well, it was just collecting dust’ – its the sort of joke you read on a ice lolly stick and shared with your mates in the school playground when you were ten years old.

        British comedy has become so unfunny recently – and thanks to the easily offended brigade our sense of humour is on the brink of extinction.

        • global city

          regimented and infantilised.

        • Chris Pollard

          It is so much harder to make people laugh with jokes on paper..Charlie Williams didn’t so much tell a joke – he WAS the joke. The same was true of Tommy Cooper and others. If Harriet Harman (for instance) was employed to read out the best jokes of all these early comedians most would fall flat

          • Baron

            Good point, Chris. You recall Charlie’s riposte to hecklers? “If you don’t stop I’ll move next door to you.” Witty, and it seldom failed to shut them up.

          • Stephen Green

            Like her jest you mean?

            • Chris Pollard

              I’m afraid both your comments Stephen about ‘Richards and a BBC helicopter’ and ‘her jest’ are completely lost on me. Maybe I’m being thick

              • Stephen Green

                Cliff Richards?
                For Jest read Chest?

        • MikeF

          Thanks – though one of this year’s Fringe jokes that doesn’t get mentioned above is “I thought Benefits Street was a box of chocolates from Lidl”. I’ve got to say I thought that was good.

    • Chris Pollard

      Bernard Manning would have a politically incorrect field day with the emergence of IS and ISul and Islamic Fundamentalism
      The best I can come up with without a visit from the local constabulary is –
      I raised Osama Bin Laden in my greenhouse – he became a ‘home grown terrorist’

    • MikeF

      …and as for Bernard Manning he could stand in front of an audience in a working man’s club and tell a joke that was a dextrous play on words. “Irishman bought a packet of condoms, took them home and put one on inside out – he went.”

      • David davis

        Better not tell you the one (of which the punch line is) about how an Irishman can tell if he’s coming or going.

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