Telling jokes for a living

Chris Betts

"Properly Hilarious"
What's on London

"Drolly original reasoning"
The Scotsman

A quick brief on this...

I spent August of 2014 in Edinburgh for the International Fringe Festival as a part of the prestigious Pleasance Comedy Reserve along with my very funny friends Phil Jerrod (www.philjerrod.com), Evelyn Mok (www.evelynmok.com and Brennan Reece (www.brennanreece.com).

But I was challenged by my manager Emily Gough of EMX Management to write an article every day of the festival on whatever I wanted so I didn't turn into a "lazy bastard".

These are those articles. I made it. 25 articles in 25 days. You can track my headspace throughout them if you like or you can just read one at random. They're all ridiculous (with the exception of the 16th which is more of an ode really) and I think they're funny.

Anyways, enjoy.

Chris

First one in, last one awkward (Aug 1)

Unfamiliar situations can be very difficult to adjust to. I’ve found that when I don’t quite know what to do with myself, the best thing to do is to copy the most casual-looking person in the room. Like the old saying goes:

“If you can’t belong, the least you can do is act like you belong. Those who know won’t care, those who don’t know won’t notice and those who weren’t there can be lied to later”

The problem is that casual people only tend o stick out around people who are not casual. Otherwise they blend right in. Here is a field guide to spotting the casual and how best to mimic their behaviour so as not to spook the herd.

While attending a party: The best place to look for the excessively relaxed is along the edges of the rom. They can generally be found leaning and looking away from the person they are talking to. If they are wearing a coat then wear your coat. If you didn’t bring a coat then go home and get one. It might seem like a lot of work but remember, being casual is all about effort. If they’re eating sacks then eat snacks. If they’re about to leave then find the host and say “Thank you for a lovely evening but I really must be going.” And when your host mentions that you’ve only just gotten there say, “Yes, and what a lovely time it was.”

When moving to a new town: Towns are difficult because unlike parties, towns tend to lack discernible edges (despite what Bruce Springsteen might tell you). The best thing to do is to wander the streets keeping an eye out for any group that the elderly look at with a combination of fear, disgust and nostalgic pride, they will be the young sages. The party people. The wrinkle-shirted wrasslers. (Do not actually call them any of these names. Especially if they are printed on their shirts. That is a trap. All t-shirts are a trap in the age of irony so don’t be fooled by the siren song of a Neil Diamond tour shirt lest you be smashed upon the rocky shores of ridicule.) They will show you the stores to buy non-conformist clothes in, the restaurants where all the non-conformists eat and the places to avoid because they’re full of conformists.

 

When starting a new job: These Casualistas are the hardest to find because they have to put on an air of caring (or a carairing (or a cairaring if you will) if you will) to maintain employment so you really have to fish them out. Start by photocopying illicit materials, nothing too daring at first, just local Chinese food menus and other people’s missing cat posters. This will pique their interest. Before long they’ll sidle up next to you, photocopying ther own illicit materials. Ads for sofas for sale and invitations to fake birthday parties to be staged at an enemy’s house. Now that you’ve gained their trust you’ll be sneaking an extra 5 minutes for coffee breaks and being told how to feign filing while actually learning play the keyboard in no time at all.

A false history of breakfast (Aug 2)

The morning ritual of break-fast is a great way to start the day. First you’re asleep, then briefly awake, then asleep again, then begrudgingly awake, then full of bacon. What a move.

Originally breakfast was created to stem the tide of sleep-eating related mortalities which at the time was the third leading cause of death behind witchcraft and acts of god. For centuries it was common for people to take turns waking up and feeding their slumbering loved ones so that they would wake up full-bellied and ready to start the day with some pep in their step. The preferred meals (or som-num-num-num-bulation as no one called it) at the time were mutton chops, corn on the cob and chicken tikka masala.

The process itself involved a bucket of food, a funnel and a chin harness attached to a rope that when pulled upon would cause a chewing-like action. The harness was considered the height of scientific progress and haute couture, often being worn to royal balls and bar mitzvahs.

But in the year 1503, Dr. Oldman who was named after his father’s favourite brother, Dr) who came from a long line of professionally old men, turned to science in an effort to understand why his wives kept dying. The doctors insisted that Dr. Oldman’s wives weren’t dead at all but merely looking for attention and so refused to do any autopsies because in the physician’s words “it would only encourage them”. So Oldman took matters into his own hands and over the years pieced together a list of possible causes for their untimely, unexplained passings. Thanks to the British Library, the list was preserved and passed down through the ages. The options were as follows:

-Waltz-related exhaustion

-A vengeful and mysterious god

-Choking

Scientific almost to a fault, Oldman spent months waltzing from dawn to dusk and back again but remained unquestionably not dead. He then went to calling god a “walnut-headed spazmatron” at 15 past the hour every hour, every day for three months, yet remained un-smoted. And so, in 1505 Oldman solved the case. It was the cashews in his sleeping wives gullets with a lack of air. Yahtzee.

 

When he tried to warn people for the dangers of sleep-eating he was at first ridiculed and then deemed a danger to society and was tarred and feathered and then plucked and paved. But before he met his awful, smooth fate he wrote his opus Cashews? Pas dans la nuit! (Oldman was known for his pretentious use of French). Though reviled in his own time, the book has since proven invaluable to medical researchers and sugary cereal magnates the world over. Spawning the idea that eating after you wake up is just as good if not vastly superior and less life threatening than having a yard of mutton vindaloo poured down your throat while you dream of falling.

Electric Loving Hand (Aug 3) 

Lightning may scare children, strike errant golfers dead and ruin perfectly good sideburns, but its contributions to society make its crimes seem trivial. Take for instance the incident of Thomas Edison discovering electricity. Discovering, not creating. For electricity has always been alive and all around us, especially in lightning. Edison also discovered the lightbulb (which until then had been living a tranquil nocturnal life in the Amazon basin) and the telephone (which had been hiding in a safe house after an armed robbery took a turn for the worse (crime ran in the family it seems as its grand-phone, Cellular, was sentenced to life in solitary confinement in pockets and hand bags for causing a total collapse of common manners in young and old alike)). The only thing Edison every truly created was the Cha-Cha-Cha, a dance which, though immensely popular, was banned by the US government in the 1950s for having possible political ties to Cuba.

In ancient civilizations, lightning was both a strong and powerful symbol for the gods as well as the inspiration for pyrotechnics. The Greeks saw the potential in the former and the Chinese in the latter. Had these cultures crossed paths at an earlier time, the world may have been treated to that rarest of things, a god with a sense of occasion and a flair for theatrics. How many lives could have been saved? We’ll never know for sure but it certainly would have been enlightening (The author would like to apologize for that pun. It was unprofessional and unnecessary).

Lightning has become a symbol for all that is great and powerful in our modern wold of low-rise jeans and double-glazed windows. Lightning in a bottle, greased lighting, quick as lightning, To sleep perchance to lightning. All of us have been touched by lightning in some way, even though none of us ever wants to be touched by lightning in any way. Like a jagged King Midas of the skies, lightning bestows greatness all around it yet destroys anything it touches. Which is why its live-in lover thunder wails so. To see the object of its affection uanble to interact with the things it clearly loves so much… Seeing lightning reach down again and again only to destroy that which it seeks to caress and nurture causes thunder such great agony that all it can do is sob.

But what is to be done? We cannot allow such a tragic tale to continue! I urge you, the reader, to begin a kickstarter campaign immediately to invent a protective glove or shawl for lightning to wear. Something it can slip on when it wants to feel the leaves blowing in the win without incinerating them or to ruffle a young scamp’s hair without giing him a permanent “Einstein”.