Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 13 June 2015
Not growing up in the 1970s
For some reason, I've just remembered 'The Funniest Joke in the World'.
A group of friends at art school were talking about the previous night's showing of Monty Python, and mentioned the Funniest Joke in the World sketch. One of them had not seen the show, and asked what we were talking about, so we all conspired to tell it to her as if it were real.
In a safe at the British Museum Library, we said, resides the funniest joke in the world. It is so funny that if you were to read it, you would die laughing as everyone else has in the past.
It is kept in two parts, in two separate, locked boxes, just incase an unwary curator should accidentally find it and read it all the way through to the punch-line. On the front of each section is a warning in large letters, telling of the dire consequences of reading both parts. There have been people who have read either the first or second parts, but having done so, they are not allowed to even meet each other, in case the two parts should be put together by accident.
Being public property, The British Library cannot legally prevent anyone from reading it who expresses the wish to do so, but they must sign a long and complicated legal waiver which takes all responsibility for the consequences away from the library.
Once this waiver has been signed, the applicant is asked once again if they really do wish to read the joke in its entirety, and if they say yes, they are taken to a room with a one chair and a table on which are the two strongboxes containing the joke in two halves. They are given the keys to the strongboxes, then locked in the room for a short period of time.
Whoever goes into the room to remove the body must first place the two bits of paper back into the boxes, and they are blindfolded for this in case they accidentally get the gist of the joke and die as a result. Four people have died by voluntarily reading it in the last 100 years, and many more have backed out of reading it at the last moment.
The girl stared at us as we told her the story, then said, "I don't believe it. I am going to London tomorrow and I'm going to read that joke. It won't kill me."
The more we begged her not to throw away her young life so needlessly, the more determined she was to go there and read it.
The next morning, one of us stopped her on her way to the station and told her it wasn't true. We couldn't let her go through with it.
I think she would have been ok though, as it probably only kills people with a sense of humour.