Those looking for laughs will welcome the news that the capital will soon be home to the UK's first Museum of Comedy, which is opening on the 30th of this month in a church crypt in central London. The brains behind the project is Martin Witts, founder and director of the Leicester Square Theatre. He has been working in or around the comedy industry for more than 30 years and collecting artefacts such as Charlie Chaplin's cane and the Two Ronnies' specs along the way. Just before heading off to pick up Steptoe and Son's stuffed bear (true story), Witts took a few minutes to talk about his latest venture. "The whole thing started a couple of years ago when I got married, and part of the deal was to clear out the loft and garage. I started off as a prop-maker and many of the items going into the museum are things I used to make for touring comedians." Does he have a favourite? "Some things Tommy Cooper made for himself, and in particular a plant stand that shoots a bunch of flowers out of it." And finally, having worked around comedians for so long, surely Witts is sick and tired of people making jokes about his last name. "I've never really noticed it," he deadpans. "Though a few of my relatives have called their homes Witts' End."
The end of LOLs
For those of us over a certain age (coughs), one of the ongoing joys of the internet has been the endless stream of new words and acronyms we have struggled to keep up with ("Excuse me young person, what exactly is FML?" and so on). But now Max Read, the new editor-in-chief of the New York-based Gawker website (Slogan: "Today's gossip is tomorrow's news") has sent out a memo to the site's writers saying enough is enough, and he is banning "internet slang". "We want to sound like regular adult human beings," he tells his team, "not BuzzFeed writers or Reddit commenters. Therefore: No 'epic'. No 'OMG'. No 'WTF'. No 'amazeballs'. And so on. Nothing," he continues, "will ever 'win the internet' on Gawker [and] the word 'massive' is never to appear." Many Gawker writers assumed the memo was a late April Fool, but Read has since assured them it is entirely serious and added: "It's not a prank. Gawker ban on 'massive' goes back a few months, actually. [The memo] was just a reminder."
Come and get it!
Following the success of the blog Dimly Lit Meals for One (see this column, 2 February) and the continuing appeal of the anti-gastronomic voyeurism movement (people who are fed up with looking at other people's perfect meals), last week Jezebel posted its list of "The Most Disgusting Fast Food Items in the World". For those who missed it, here are three favourites:
1. KitKat Pops (Pizza Hut, Middle East): KitKat cooked in pizza dough.
2. Black Ninja Burger (Burger King, Japan): "Between a bun blackened by bamboo charcoal, there's a beef patty, lettuce, mayo, onion-garlic soy sauce, a hash brown patty and a protruding 'tongue' made of thick ham."
3. Monster Biscuit (Hardee's, US): "Three half strips of bacon, one sausage patty, four slices of shaved ham, one folded egg, two slices of cheese, on a savoury scone." And no, you can't supersize that.
While most of us would struggle to follow the new directive to eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, the fashion world's love affair with the ripe stuff continues. This season everyone's at it: from MiH's watermelon-print silk shirtdress to kiwis on a lovely little Carven number. One question: does wearing the stuff count as one of our 10 a day?
Look who's talking
Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that I've been away for the past few weeks. This is because I have been on paternity leave. And while no one needs another columnist boring on about their obviously unique and preternaturally gifted newborn (there's always Facebook for that), one thing has struck me that is worth a passing comment. Namely, the baby is our second child, and – in accordance with advice from pretty much everyone we know – we gave our first child a present from the newborn baby. This custom appears to be relatively new. We read a lot about young people these days growing up with a sense of entitlement, and just last week Andrew, the Duke of York, said in an interview that he thought it might be a good idea to teach our children to fail. So while I have no wish to take parenting tips from a member of the Royal Family, it does strike me that it really wouldn't be so terrible if children were to learn – at as an early an age as possible – that the world doesn't always revolve around them.
No rhyme or reason
Another in an increasingly regular series of limericks based on recent events:
The air it was dusty and hazy
And joggers had cause to be lazy
But though coughing and choking's
No reason for joking
The car-cleaning business went crazy