Apart from those tedious days that come between Christmas and New Year the most unproductive time in the normal course of life is the time you spend in a departure lounge waiting to board a flight. Do you have time to take out your PC and work? Dare you bury yourself in a bestseller and miss the boarding announcements?
On Tuesday morning I was waiting at Gate B1 at Sofia Airport, and I had two pleasures to choose between – software testing, or idle browsing on the internet (the Graham Swift short stories I had on my Kindle somehow hadn’t excited me – he’s not as good as he used to be). I chose the internet.
And time went by, including the scheduled boarding time, and the scheduled departure time. After thirty minutes or so I’d read everything of obvious interest, and as the delay lengthened (no announcements, no apology, no explanation) I had to click on items such as ‘Best ten jokes at the Edinburgh Fringe.’
This is not the kind of item that I would usually read. I’m not fond of jokes. Humour yes, of course, but jokes, no. I can’t tell one-liners and I don’t often find them funny. I prefer the slow-burn humour of a four-hour Wagner opera. No risk of embarrassing LOL or ROFL at Gate B1. But desperate delays call for desperate measures.
So, these are the Edinburgh Fringe’s top ten jokes (Edinburgh Fringe Jokes), starting with the winner, and my scores and sour remarks:
“I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It’s Hans free”
Puerile. Also panders to traditional anti-German sentiment – 2/10
“Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse … but enough about Kanye West”
Amusingly vicious, I suppose, but a tired formula – 5/10
“Surely every car is a people carrier?”
Yes, true, and who knows why they call them ‘people carriers’ but it’s a dull observation – 2/10
“What’s the difference between a ‘hippo’ and a ‘Zippo’? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter”
A moderately amusing play on words, and has a good rhythm – 4/10
“If I could take just one thing to a desert island I probably wouldn’t go”
Subversive of all those ‘Desert Island Discs’ shows – 6/10
“Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That’s not a miracle. That’s tapas”
This is my favourite. I like it because I can never see the point of tapas (see more prejudice on this topic below) – 9/10
“Red sky at night. Shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night. Day”
Subverts a tedious cliché, I suppose, and offers a mad contradiction – 7/10
“The first time I met my wife, I knew she was a keeper. She was wearing massive gloves”
Something to do with football? 1/10
“Clowns divorce. Custardy battle”
“They’re always telling me to live my dreams. But I don’t want to be naked in an exam I haven’t revised for…”
Turns a cliche on its head, and takes a moment or two to sink in. Clever, especially since this one was supposedly submitted by a child – 8/10
But my favourite is the joke about tapas, those hot or cold, ALWAYS TINY, saucers of almost nothing, swimming in oil.
Tapas, according to Wikipedia, fill those two holes in the Spanish day between breakfast and lunch (taken mid-afternoon), and then between lunch and dinner (taken between ten and midnight). [Isn’t that when the rest of us work?!] So the Spanish eat five meals a day. Apart from the effect on the waistline, there’s the effect on the wallet. They’re usually priced at 3.95 or another number that’s difficult to multiply, and before you know it you’ve spent a small fortune, and you’re still hungry. If it’s the evening, you’ve spent your dinner budget at an inelegant zinc counter in a noisy bar in the back streets of a charming Spanish town, and you’ve still not had your dinner.
And this is how you look afterwards: