We’ve reached that most cherished part of the festive season: TV channel Gold has released its annual list of the best Christmas cracker gags. It might shock you to learn that there’s a strong COVID theme, with references to R-rates, Zoom and all the other amusing little foibles of living through a deadly pandemic.
In 2019, there was a bit more variety: the list featured jokes about Donald Trump and Brexit. There was also one gag about Corbyn (“Why doesn’t Jeremy Corbyn ever visit Santa? Because he struggles in the poles”) which, had any of my family members dared to read out at Christmas dinner, I would have punched them in the face. This year, however, each of the ten short-listed jokes refer to coronavirus or lockdown, which is a chilling indication of just how much 2020 has been defined by the pandemic. In the future, historians will read UK Gold’s “Top Christmas Cracker Gags” list — and weep.
With grim inevitability, the winning joke pertained to Dominic Cummings, architect of the Leave campaign and recently ousted advisor to Boris Johnson. Ever since the so-called “Cummings-gate” scandal earlier this year, when he came under fire for breaking lockdown regulations to travel to County Durham, and then later claimed that he visited the local tourist attraction of Barnard Castle in order to test his driving, we have been inundated with unfunny, repetitive jokes about his antics. It’s fitting, then, that Gold should declare that the best Christmas cracker gag of the year to be: “What is Dominic Cummings’ favourite Christmas song? ‘Driving Home for Christmas’.”
The problem isn’t that this joke isn’t funny, it’s that it’s the wrong kind of unfunny – Christmas day is a time for cheesy puns, not sub-par political satire. On the plus side, at least it doesn’t reference Specsavers or Barnard Castle, for which we should be thankful. But “Driving Home for Christmas”? Really? A Chris Rea joke? In this economy? I’ve never even heard of this song, which means it cannot be considered a true part of the festive canon. Apparently, upon its release in 1988, it peaked in the charts at number 53.
Maybe, on reflection, “All I Want for Christmas is You… to Drive Me to Barnard Castle!” or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer… That Was Probably Checking Its Eyesight!”’ would have been better. Happily, the rest of the jokes don’t read like they were scraped from Have I Got News For You’s cutting room floor, and are instead good, clean, pun-based fun. I bet that Santa’s employees would have to “elf isolate”, and that it would indeed pose problems if Mary and Joseph had “no Zoom at the inn”! That’s more like it, baby! You can read the complete list below:
1. What is Dominic Cummings’ favourite Christmas song? “Driving Home for Christmas”.
2. Did you hear that production was down at Santa’s workshop? Many of his workers have had to Elf isolate!
3. Why didn’t Mary and Joseph make it to Bethlehem? All Virgin flights were cancelled.
4. Why are Santa’s reindeer allowed to travel on Christmas eve? They have herd immunity.
5. Why did the pirates have to go into lockdown? Because the “arrrr!” rate had risen.
6. Why is it best to think of 2020 like a panto? Because eventually, it’s behind you.
7. Why couldn’t Mary and Joseph join their work conference call? Because there was no Zoom at the inn.
8. Why can’t Boris Johnson make his Christmas cake until the last minute? He doesn’t know how many tiers it should have.
9. What do the Trumps do for Christmas dinner? They put on a super spread.
10. Which Christmas film was 30 years ahead of its time? Home Alone.