The great British joke: Celebrities share their favourite old chestnuts

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The Independent Online

A new survey suggests that the average Briton knows, at best, two jokes. Emily Dugan and Amol Rajan asked public figures to share their favourites

Bob Geldof, pop star

Paddy goes for a job on a building site, and the foreman asks: "What's the difference between a joist and a girder?" "That one's easy," says Paddy: "Joyce wrote Ulysses and Goethe wrote Faust."

Also, this one's my favourite African joke; it's so sad, and so true... What power did they have in the Congo before candles? Electricity.

Mark Steel, comedian

A bloke goes to the doctor and says: "Doc, I've got a lettuce stuck up my arse". The doctor has a feel about and says: "I'm sorry sir, but this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Angus Fraser, cricket writer

There's an Irish contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? he doesn't know answer. Chris Tarrant says: "Don't forget you've got 50/50, ask the audience and phone a friend." The Irishman says: "I'll phone a friend, please Chris." He gets on the phone and says: "Hi Seamus, I just want to ask you, do you think I should do 50/50 or ask the audience?"

Norman Tebbit, politician

Peter Hain and Jack Straw. They're the two worst jokes I know.

Alexei Sayle, comedian

A bloke sees a sign saying "racehorse for sale: £10". He pays the money, takes it home and lets it out the horse box. The horse gets out and gallops straight into a tree. Then he gets up and runs straight into a fence. The guy goes back to the farmer and says: "You've sold me a blind racehorse" and the farmer says: "It's not blind; it just doesn't give a toss."

Greg Dyke, broadcaster

Neil Armstrong lands on the Moon and says the words: "Over to you, Gretsky." Everyone's confused and asks him what does he mean but he refuses to reveal it. However, he's at a 20-year reunion for the Moon landing and he's asked once again: "Why did you say, 'Over to you, Gretsky'?" "Well," he says, "when I was younger I used to live beside an old couple called the Gretskys. They always argued, and his wife said to him: "The only time you'll get oral sex is when man walks on the Moon."

Rod Liddle, journalist

There's a little boy who loves tractors. On his 17th birthday, his mother gives him a trip to a tractor fair, but he gets badly injured, leading to a lengthy stay in hospital. He says he's never going near tractors again. Years later, he's in a bar when he catches the eye of a beautiful young lady. She's crying, and he asks her what her trouble is. She replies: " It's the smoke". He thinks: 'What can I do to make this better?' He then blows, which stops her crying. She asks him how he did it and he says: "Well I'm an ex-tractor fan."

Max Clifford, PR consultant

An old lady called Doris in her eighties wants to spice up her sex life with her husband Burt. She buys a bag of sex toys and crotchless knickers. Back home she spreads herself out on the bed and says to Burt, "You want some of this?" Burt says: "Not if that's what it's done to your knickers."

Dom Joly, comedian

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was stapled to the blender.

What's black white black white black white, red red red red? A nun in a blender.

Virginia Ironside, agony aunt

An Irish woman walks into an undertakers to see her husband laid out. She says: "I wish he wasn't in his black suit. He looks so much better in blue. Couldn't you get him changed?" The undertaker responds: "OK, give me 15 minutes." She comes back to find two coffins, one with a man in a blue suit, one with a man in black. "Goodness me," she says, "that was quick". The undertaker responds: "It was easy. I just swapped their heads around".

Anthony Seldon, headmaster

Leonid Brezhnev makes a speech at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. With great self-importance, he begins: "Oh", then pauses, and says "Oh" again. After another dramatic pause he delivers a third "Oh". His speechwriter taps him on the shoulder and says: "You're reading out the Olympic insignia, the speech starts down there."

David Aaronovitch, journalist

Two middle aged Jewish ladies walking down the street. One says: "You know, I'm having an affair. "

And the other responds: "Really? Who's doing the catering?"

Sir James Galway, musician

The Pope comes in one day and says to his cardinals: "It seems the Jews have challenged us to golf." The cardinals protest that they're no good at golf, and say: "Why don't we ask Jack Nicklaus to become an honorary cardinal, then he can play for the Vatican?" So Jack Nicklaus goes out and plays the game, and comes back with his head in his hands. "What's wrong?" the Pope asked. "Well, it was OK at the start," said Nicklaus. "But did you ever hear of Rabbi Tiger Woods?"

Maggie O'Farrell, novelist

You look at a field of cows. How can you tell which is on holiday? The one with the wee calf.

Keith Harris, comedian

An elephant robs a bank and the police ask the witness, "Would you recognise him again?" and the witness says: "No, he was wearing a stocking over his head."

Why wasn't Cinderella any good at football? She didn't have a coach.

Tony Hawkes, comedian

What's red and sits in the corner?

A naughty strawberry.

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP

Where do generals keep their armies? Up their sleevies.

Neil Warnock, football manager

A manager goes into the physio's room to visit a player with an injured knee. The manager says 'I can give you a cortisone injection'. The player replies 'It's alright boss, I've got a Sierra'.

Piers Morgan, journalist

What's the difference between Tottenham Hotspur and a triangle? With a triangle you're guaranteed three points.

Deborah Ross, journalist

A mother buys her son two ties for his birthday. Next time she sees him he's only wearing one of them, so she says to him "What, didn't you like the other one?"

Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat MP

Did you hear about the Frenchman who jumped off the Eiffel Tower? He was classified in Seine.

Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector

There's a raging fire at a chemical plant that's burning out of control. The city fire department are called and start to attack the fire, but it's too much for them and they have to pull back. They call for aid from a neighbouring city, which sends its fire fighters to help, but when they arrive the fire proves too much for them too. Other cities send aid, but none are successful, and the mayor of the town offers a $1m reward to the fire fighters who can quench the blaze. Only one small, rural fire department in the area remains, and they are called. When they arrive in an old, beaten up truck they scream past all the waiting people, and the media circus, and hurtle straight into the fire, where they jump out and attack it, finally putting it out. The mayor rushes over gushing with praise, and says: "Well done, you guys are heroes! What are you going to spend the £1m reward on?" And the rural fire chief replies: "Well, the first thing we'll do is to fix the brakes on that fire truck."

Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP

Gordon Brown dies and he meets St Peter at the pearly gates. Mr Brown notices loads of clocks with different times on them on the wall behind him. "What are they for?" he asks, and St Peter explains: "Each clock is allocated to an individual, and represents how much they lie. For each lie, the clock moves forward one minute. Mother Teresa's clock is still at noon, because she never told a lie, and Abraham Lincoln's is at two minutes past, because he only lied as a child." "But where is Tony Blair's clock?" Mr Brown asks. "Oh," St Peter says. " Jesus is using that one as a ceiling fan."

Jo Brand, comedian

This 7ft bloke goes to his local swimming pool for a job as a lifeguard. First thing they ask him is: "Can you swim?" He eventually says: "I can't. But I can wade out pretty far."

Andrew Marr, journalist

A duck goes into a grocery shop and asks: "Have you got any matches?" The grocer says: "No." The duck goes back three times, and every time the grocer says the same. The fourth time the duck asks, the owner says: "Look. If you come in here one more time and say that, I'm going to nail your beak to the counter." The next day the duck goes in the shop again and asks: "Have you got any nails?" "No," the grocer replies. "OK," says the duck. "Got any matches?"

A bloke goes to see his farmer friend and sees a pig walking along with a wooden leg. "Why has your pig got a wooden leg?" he asks. The farmer says: "That pig is a great pig; it got five As at A-level, it can count, and it's my children's best friend." "Yes, but why does it have a wooden leg?" asks the bloke. "He saved my wife and kids in a fire, and he's the best pig we've ever had," answers the farmer. "But you haven't answered my question," says the bloke. "Are you stupid?" said the farmer."You wouldn't eat a pig like that all at once."

Martin Salter, Labour MP

You're standing on top of a cliff with a Liberal Democrat and a Tory. Which one do you push off first? Answer: the Tory. It's always business before pleasure.

Kathy Lette, novelist

How do you get rid ofcockroaches?Tell them you want along-term relationship

Baroness Jenny Tonge, Liberal Democrat Peer

A man walks into a bar with a box. The barman says: "Free drink if you show me what's in the box. "OK" he says, and opens it, revealing a mini-pianist. "Where did you get that?" says the barman. " I've got a magic ring. Rub it, and it grants a wish," says the man. "Let me have a go for another free drink." The barman rubs it and 1,000 ducks run in. "I didn't ask for that!" screams the barman. "I wanted a 1,000 bucks!" "Well, do you think I asked for a 12in-pianist?"

Jilly Cooper, novelist

Two dogs and a cat go to a prom, and they enjoy it so much that they asked to go backstage. The doorman says: "You can't come back here, what do you know about music?" The first dog said: "I Bach," the second one said: "I Offenbach," and the cat said: "I'm Debussy."

Stephen Pound, Labour MP

What's the difference between a supermarket trolley and a politician? You can get more food and drink into a politician..

Roger McGough, poet

What are three fish beginning and ending with the letter 'K'?

Killer shark

Kwiksave boil-in-the-bag smoked haddock

Kilmarnock (which is a small plaice in Scotland)