Twitter is full of jokers, both professional and amateur. Never is it more noticeable when some news event or seasonal festivity springs up to be lampooned relentlessly. This past week saw urban foxes, the horse meat scandal and the resignation of the Pope - a holy trinity of hilarity that led to an avalanche of puns:
And I couldn't resist a couple:
Some have taken it to the next level, doing stand up or turning to comedy sketch writing for radio and television and stage. Robin Flavell has recently taken the plunge and is doing the Pun Run, Twitter Special at the Monarch in Camden, leaping into the stand-up bear pit with nothing more than a mic stand to fend off those baying for his blood. I'm sure he'll be fine, he's very funny.
Others, like me, began writing jokes, got good responses, wrote sketches for open platform shows like Newsjack and took it from there. Andrea Mann began writing jokes on Twitter, which led to writing them professionally for radio, TV and live shows and then to the Huffington Post, where she now edits this comedy site.
Twitter is a goldmine for newspapers, and websites like this one, that have a humour space to fill with topical material. And it's not all the preserve of the professionals anymore. Twitter has become the great leveller, bridging the gap for the wannabes like me and providing a more intimate relationship for the professionals with their fans.
The scales are still weighted in favour of terrible jokes, of which there are many - most of them mine - but among them there are gems to be plundered, placed in little glass cases and looked upon in awe. Every failed attempt that would normally get scribbled out on paper, now finds itself in front of the eyes of Twitter followers and sometimes, surprisingly, the gags that the writer thought weren't so great take off, and the ones they loved die a mediocre death. It's instant feedback: what to improve, what to keep and what to dismiss. The only thing missing is the sound of laughter. Or the keen pain of a beer bottle hitting you on the temple.
By the way, if you're a budding joker then Newsjack, the open door satire show, is back on BBC Radio 4 Extra and accepts submissions from all-comers. Here's my guide to writing for it.
Here's the BBC's submission guidelines and programme information.