Missing the punchlines

Jan 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Personal Columns

It is the annual clergy night for a businessmen’s association.  Clergy across the denominations are invited by local businessmen to join them for dinner at a city centre hotel.  It is a convivial occasion with only one sting in the tail: after dinner there is story telling where various members of the assembled company are invited to stand up and share jokes and anecdotes.

Being the world’s worst teller of jokes, the punchline is always forgotten or wrong, the open floor is a moment of mortal terror.

There is only one story I know, and it was told to me three years ago by a Cornishman.  ‘Is there still a comedian called Jethro in Cornwall?’ I asked him.

‘Jethro’, he said, ‘Jethro. I’ll tell ‘e about Jethro’.

‘Jethro’s friend Denzil Penberthy comes to him one day and ‘e says, ‘Jethro’. ‘Jethro’ ‘e says, ‘Wha’s this I hear about an Antiques Roadshow? Wha’s Antiques Roadshow?’

So Jethro turns to Denzil and ‘e says’, ‘It’s like this, Denzil. It’s like this, Denzil’, ‘e says. ‘What you do is this. What you do is that you take along to the Antiques Roadshow something from your house tha’s old and what you do is you say to them,’What I want to know is: what it is and how much it’s worth’.

Denzil Penberthy knew that the Antiques Roadshow was coming to Truro, so Denzil gets ready for the visit. Denzil goes to Truro and ‘e lines up with everbody else, except Denzil has the biggest ruddy package that anyone on the Antiques Roadshow has ever seen.

Denzil pushes and pants and ‘e gets this ruddy great parcel up on the table and e’ looks at the man from the Antiques Roadshow and ‘e says to him, ‘You see this thing ‘ere. You see this thing ‘ere. This thing ‘ere has been in my family for generations and for as long as I can remember it’s been up in the attic. What I wants to know is what it is an’ ‘ow much it’s worth’.

The man from the Antiques Roadshow looks at the table and ‘e looks at Denzil Penberthy and ‘e says, ‘I’ll tell ‘e what it is. I’ll tell ‘e what it is. It’s the ruddy hot water tank’.

The story was told in the broadest of Cornish accents with a peppering of slightly coarser words,  I laughed so much that I lost my footing, fell over and slid down a mountain slope.

The story would do for the dinner tonight, were it not for the fact that I told it last year (and maybe the year before that).  I must get out my book of after dinner stories by the late Brian Johnston.  They will have heard all of them before, but will smile politely, even when the punchline is fluffed.

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  1. Hahahaha, there’s a lot more Jethro jokes you could tell but I think you would have to remove the expletives!!!!!!!! If he is on tour around Devon/Cornwall when you are over next its worth getting tickets, good luck with the after dinner speaking….

  2. I suppose the one about the nuns driving around Co Kerry and the devil attached itself onto the windscreen and would not get off and one nun said to the other – Show him you’r cross. – that has been done many times!! What about the one where the husband decided he had not paid enough attention to his wife recently and decided to buy her flowers on the way home. When he got into the house with the flowers the wife took one look at him and burst into tears. When he asked why he heard that the children had been sick, the car had broken down, the washing machine had leaked over the floor and the dinner was burnt and then she says to crown it all you come home blind drunk. Boom Boom!!

  3. Bliss! The floor was opened, but there was only time for two speeches, the second of which concluded with raucous laughter after the speaker told the story of Brendan Behan explaining the difference between prose and poetry. There was such a racket that the chairman didn’t call for any further speakers.

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