Opinions: Can you take a joke?

LIONEL BLAIR: Do you remember the Olympus commercial with George Cole saying, 'Hang on, it's Lionel Blair' and it was Lord Lichfield and vice versa? I have been sent up so much I think I live up there, and it's not done me any harm. When you allow yourself to be laughed at it gives you great street credibility and the public love you even more for it.

JON SNOW, Channel 4 News journalist: I'm subjected to jokes every minute of my working day. They're mainly piss-takes. If you can't take a joke, you become a bigger joke than the joke itself.

RUTH RENDELL, author: No one plays jokes on me, I'm not in that sort of position.

TERRY CHRISTIAN, presenter, The Word: Oh yeah. I do it for a living] Last year on The Word they set us up with Margi Clarke on the last show of the series. We're having a chat and she starts coming on to me, and says 'Show us your plums Terry.' I said, 'Get out of it.' 'Go on, show us your plums,' she says. So I walked over to the fruit bowl and picked two up. There was a hidden camera and the viewers saw Margi's face and her going, 'God, they're massive Terry' and then me pretending to do up my flies. I just laughed when I found out. I'm fireproof. Ritual humiliation is my career.

DENNIS SKINNER, MP: They call me all sorts of names but I don't let it bother me. I get tons of letters from people saying, 'Are you offended?' and I say, 'Well, I learned a little ditty when I was about three years of age - 'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but calling never hurts me.' ' That's roughly my reaction.

MARIA WILLIAMS, head teacher: You have to laugh or you'd end up crying in this job. The children mimic me sometimes and April Fools' Day is particularly busy, but you have to be able to retain your dignity.

GRANT, estate agent: 'Why don't estate agents look out of the window first thing in the morning? Because they've got the whole day to do it]' I used to be a lot more sensitive than I am now. I once said I worked in a sex shop because I was so fed up with all the abuse.

DEIRDRE DEFFENSE, Thresher Wine Shop assistant: If you can't laugh at things going on in your life you may as well die. Friends are always playing jokes on me like putting horrible things in my drinks.

MOHAN BAINES, civil servant: I have no sense of humour whatsover - you can't afford to in the civil service. No, seriously though, I love a good joke, whether its against me or others. I sometimes ring my wife up and pretend to be someone else, like the police.

BERNARD FRANCE, funeral director: It's always the same jokes about death. I can live without them quite honestly. I'm amazed at people's lack of originality.

Norman Lamont: a TV advert poking fun at him was taken off after he complained

(Photograph omitted)

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