Five examples of the tragedy of thinking you’re funny when you’re not

Charlie Higson as Colin Hunt (right) with Simon Day in the Fast Show

The coming of winter means that those of us who enjoy a few sherberts will do so inside pubs rather than in their gardens.

Halloween next week also heralds the advent of the autumn/winter festivals culminating in that one on December 25.

Christmas is also that time of year when one second you’re enjoying a weak lager with a top in somewhere like the Black Griffin until 30 plumbers on a works do arrive and change the atmosphere from relaxed to sexually aggressive.

It’s times like that remind me of how utterly unfunny some people are – especially those who regard themselves as inveterate comedians like Charlie Higson’s creation Colin Hunt (pictured) in the Fast Show.

Here are five examples of this pathology I’ve managed to nail down:

The Joke Teller: Lacking an actual sense of humour, the Joke Teller has committed to memory numerous gags which he repeats ad nauseum to his luckless audience. Some are one-liners or puns, but some of are those lengthy jokes which revolve around a tale and involve the non-comedian breathing spittle into your ear in a noisy pub. Within 10 seconds of this, I guarantee you will have switched off and you won’t know the joke has finished until you suddenly realise the teller has stopped talking and is looking expectantly at you waiting for an outbreak of laughter which ultimately has to be forced.

The shout loudest: A couple of Christmases ago, I was in the Thomas Becket in Best Lane sitting about 15ft from a group of 10 men and women on a works do. Well oiled, two men competed to be the joker in the pack. Rather than saying anything funny, though, they just shouted whatever was on their mind. In fact the only funny person in the group was a woman who met their remarks with sarcastic comments.

The look around: This is a particularly contemptible variety. Possessed of the belief that they are natural funnymen, they play to an audience. I was in the Black Griffin one Saturday lunchtime when a large fellow came in and began performing. Every time he said something, he looked around him – including over at me – expecting to see everyone hooting with laughter at his quips. Every time he glanced at me, I looked back stony-faced and unimpressed. Unfortunately, it had no effect on him.

The regional accent: No, no, no, no, no. Having a thick regional accent from another part of the UK does not a comedian make. Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the West Country, east London – wherever you’re from originally has no effect on whether you’re funny or not so don’t even try.

The “I’m mad, me”: This is the most tragic of all in many ways – and it’s the category that Colin Hunt fits neatly into. No one who utters these words is in reality mad or zany or hilariously wacky. Instead, they’re most likely to be lacking in the personality stakes with their claim to zaniness being an attempt to compensate for their deficiencies.


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