Four people seated, a social worker, Mr Host (Rory Ewins) and three rather dour types, Tom (James Pooley), Dick (Robert Terry) & Harry (James Bachman).
HostWell I'm glad to see so many of you here today. I know it's a difficult decision to come to workshops such as these, but by coming along you've taken that important first step on the road to recovery.
Tom, Dick & Harry are nodding seriously.
HostSo let's start with some introductions, shall we? My name is—Tarzan Glowpigeon.
Waits with an expectant smile to see if this raises a laugh from Tom, Dick & Harry. Nothing.
Right... And you are?
Host... Thomas. And you?
HostRichard... And?
HostThomas, Richard and Harold... Tom, Dick and Harry. Tom Dick & Harry! (Laughs.)
HarryIt's less formal.
HostRight, well I can begin to see the extent of the problem. You really don't have—any sense of humour at all, do you?
Tom, Dick & Harry shake heads sadly.
HostNever mind, that's why you've come to this "Humour Skills" workshop. We'll have you laughing away like beserk game-show hosts in no time. Okay, we'll start with something straightforward... let's start with some jokes, shall we?
DickYes, I always have trouble with those.
HostI'll bet you do. Okay, try this one. (Hams it up.) "I say I say I say—My Dog Has No Nose!"
HarryPoor bugger. How does it breathe?
HostWhat? No, no, no, you're supposed to say "How does it smell?"
HostWhy? Because it's obvious. It's the obvious next line.
TomWell, not really. It could still smell even if it had no nose. Assuming, of course, that it lost its nose in an accident and wasn't born without one. In the latter case it would just have fur where its nostrils should be, but in the former case the olfactory nerves should still be there.
DickBut it would have a disgusting hole on the end of its snout.
TomYes, but it could still smell.
HarryI still want to know how it can breathe.
DickThat's not the problem. Its mouth is still there, presumably. It can just breathe through that.
HarryOh, that's okay, then.
They all turn to Mr Host, their knotty problem solved.
Host(Dumb-founded) No... you've got it all wrong. You've got completely the wrong end of the stick, and you're beating around the bush with it. It's a perfectly straightforward joke:
"My dog has no nose."
"Really? How does it smell?"
"Terrible!" A ha ha ha ha...
Tom, Dick & Harry do not laugh.
HarryWell I'd say that joke is terrible.
TomYes, I think we can take it for granted that smelling through a badly-damaged snout would be "terrible" compared with smelling through a healthy nose.
Host(Very frustrated) Right... you don't like that joke, I'll try another one. There was an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman...
DickWhat were their names?
HostEh? I dunno... Tom, Dick and Harry.
TomWhat, like us?
HarryI'm not Scottish.
HostAll right then, Tom, Dick and Fred.
HarrySo I'm not in it anymore? That's a bit rough.
DickI'm not Irish either.
Host(Pressing on regardless) And these three guys, the Englishman, the Irishman and the Scotsman, were all at a party...
TomI'm not very good at parties.
HarryIf you'd told me there was a party on I'd have done my Scottish accent.
HostAnd the Irishman said, "See that girl over there?", and...
DickThis isn't going to be a sexist joke is it?
Harry(Yells excitedly) Hoots mon, where's me kilt, och aye!
Host(Absolutely despairing, he now gets angry) Right, you don't like any of my jokes: you make up a joke. And you tell it to each other and see if the others laugh.
Pause. Tom, Dick and Harry think deeply but no luck.
Host(Very cross) Okay, I'll start you off. Make it a "wife" joke.
All three turn to him to raise an important point.
Host... and DON'T say you're not married!
HarryBut I'm not.
HostIt doesn't matter! It's just a joke, it's not real!
Host"My wife... is SO fat..."
HarryWhat about the chicken?
HarryThe chicken. "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side." That was real.
HostNo it wasn't.
HarryIt was, I saw it just the other week. This chicken walking over the B126.
Tom, Dick and Harry discuss this with interest—"The B126?" "Yes, by the roundabout... outside Camberley..."
Host(Going off his trolley by now) Yes, but the joke came before that! And anyway, it's not even funny, it's an ancient joke!
HarryReally? I thought it was rather good.
Host(Shouting) Well what would you know, you humourless git! I'm the comic genius around here! Now shut up!
Harry falls silent.
HostRight! "My wife!" ... Tom, you try something with that.
TomMy wife... (pause) My wife... is so attractive, it's a pleasure to see her of a morning.
(Clapping) Very good.
HostThis is a nightmare... (thinks again). Knock knock.
Dick(Surprised) What's that?
HostKnock knock.
DickI... I can hear something... a ghostly knocking noise! A noise from the spirit world! (addresses an invisible spirit) "Who—who is it?"
Host(Can't believe this; curses to himself) Jesus Christ!
Dick(Shocked) Oh my God... it's Him! God! He's speaking to us from Heaven! Oh Lord, send us a message!
HostI've had enough of this!(He gets up and stamps offstage.)
DickHe has had enough of this! (dramatic, arms outstretched) "And the Lord spake unto Richard his servant, saying He hath had enough, and the end of the world was nigh!!"
Pause. Harry and Tom burst out laughing.
HarryThat's very good!
TomThat's just like Monty Python, that is.
HarryJolly funny.
DickOh... really? You think so?
HarryYou should put a comedy act together.
DickWell—why don't we all form an act? Give ourselves an amusing name or something.
TomSuch as?
Harry"Three Men—and a Penguin!"
DickWell, it's a working title.
They all walk off talking.
DickNow, how did that thing go? "My nose has no dog..."
HarryNo... "My dog is so attractive..."


First performed by Three Men and a Penguin at the Cambridge Playroom, January 1992.
This page: 11 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins