Out There: Comedy in the House, a Beatle on the street, texts 4eva and Tom Daley disappoints
PM stole my punchline
"Was today the day Prime Minister's Questions died?" asked one Huffington Post commentator after David Cameron's much derided quip that Ed Miliband was "loving Engels instead". But though the joke was widely reported to have been stolen from Twitter, this column can exclusively reveal its true source – an up-and-coming 29-year-old comedian called Stu Richards. "It's impossible to prove," Richards told me last week, "but I've been using that punchline in my set for more than a year and have tweeted it and had it retweeted a few times." How does he feel about having his gag "appropriated" at the highest level? "At first I was appalled that the PM shares my sense of humour, then I was excited that my joke could signal the end of democracy... I feel a peculiar sense of shameful flattery," says the host of the monthly Talking Shyte at the Shaftesbury comedy night in London. At least, after last week's Autumn Statement performance, no one in the House will be quipping that they're loving Ed Balls instead any time soon.
A kosher big Macca
My colleague John Rentoul is a collector of headlines in the form of "questions to which the answer is no". And though his list is now closed, a recent headline in an Israeli newspaper almost tempted him to reopen it: "Is Doctor Who a Jew?" asked Haaretz in its 25 November edition. The Israeli press has form here: back in 2008 The Jerusalem Post ran a piece with the headline: "How Jewish were the Beatles?" Among that article's revelations was the observation that the first and third wives of Paul McCartney were Jewish. So it wasn't entirely surprising when Macca was spotted last week smiling at a man dressed as a dreidel (the spinning toy kids play with on Hanukkah) giving out sweet treats to passers-by in north London. According to one source, "Paul walked off less than impressed that he didn't get a doughnut."
Don't mind the gap
One endlessly amusing byproduct of the internet age is our collective inability to punctuate and put spaces into web and email addresses and hashtags. The latest poster campaign for the Samsung Galaxy, which boasts the slogan "The pen is mightier than the finger". All well and good until Twitter users noticed what happens when you run the second and third words together (work it out for yourselves). Some other favourites from recent years include the, Italian power company with the URL powergenitalia.com and the launch of an album by Susan Boyle which was greeted with the hashtag "susanalbumparty" (and you can definitely work that one out for yourself).
There's been no shortage of chatter about the Buzzfeed-ification of news, but, as reported in last week's New Yorker, there are now compelling scientific reasons why our brains respond favourably to things when they are presented as lists. To celebrate, here's a top 10 of recent top 10s:
1. The top 10 universities in emerging economies (Business Insider)
2. Top 10 toxic ingredients used by the fossil fuels industries (PlanetSave)
3. Top 10 NFL fails from week 13 (Hip-Hop Wired)
4. Top 10 most viewed ag-machinery videos of 2013 (AgWeb, Farm Journal)
5. Top 10 depressing documentaries (The Vine)
6. Top 10 cheapest cars to own (Telegraph)
7. Top 10 oral-sex scenes (Salon)
8. Top 10 ugly sweaters you might actually want to wear this year (Daily Herald)
9. Top 10 US cities for Chinese housebuyers (WPTV)
10. Top 10 space-robot selfies (Discovery News)
The GR8 and the good
It might have escaped your attention in the general hubbub, but last week marked the 21st anniversary of the first text message. The sender was one Neil Papworth, at the time a member of the development team, and the text, sent to Richard Jarvis at the Vodafone UK office Christmas party, read "Merry Christmas". So what did Papworth, who now lives in Montreal, Canada, do to mark his special day? Nothing. But was there a profound message in the last text he did send? "My wife sent me a text reminding me to pick her up from the bus stop," he tells me, "It read: 'F***! Forgot! On way …'" Oh brave new world.
For no rhyme or reason
The second in an occasional series of limericks based on recent events:
By tablet or laptop or phone
We can buy things (or take out a loan)
There's no way of stopping
These new ways of shopping
Though they still can't deliver by drone
All good things must come to a trend
A random selection of recent hot hashtags from around the world:
#LoveYourCup (a Coffee-Mate sponsored push on flavoured coffee creamers)
#AllThatMaters (Bieber fans celebrate their hero's latest single by misspelling the title)
#Christmas (without Twitter, who knew?)
#VonTrapp (Carrie Underwood is Maria in live US broadcast of The Sound of Music)
#12DaysofJones (the Dragons' Den Peter Jones offers prizes to promote his Red Letter Days company)
Villain of the week
Oh, Tom Daley, we used to think so highly of you. You were a serious sportsperson, a contender, a role model. But that short clip last week changed everything. Frankly, I was shocked. Yes, it's brave of you. Yes, you looked quite comfortable with it. But really, that trailer for the second series of Splash!. Does anybody really want to see you putting yourself through that again?
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