Photo by Henry Langston
Unless you've been living under a rock (or "the rest of the country", as we here in London call it), you can't help but have read about what happened today in Central London. The Chinese whispers are flying, but it seems that a man entered the premises of an HGV licensing company in the Tottenham Court Road area with some canisters strapped to himself, and then opted to inform everyone that these canisters were explosive. Buildings were evacuated, computer monitors were hurled from fifth-storey windows, hostage negotiators and police snipers were called in, hostages were released and eventually a couple of policemen emerged from the shadows of the building clutching a shirtless 50-year-old man named Michael Green.
Apparently Green decided to do what he did because the company, currently operating as Advantage HGV, shafted him. Early reports indicate that the people behind the company have a long history of taking people's money, declaring themselves bankrupt and then resurfacing a little while later under a different name.
Predictably enough, Twitter responded by tossing around a series of lame jokes. Now that 2DTV isn't showing any more, the comedians of Twitter seem to have become our society's main go-to for weak topical humour. I guess somebody's gotta provide the gags for Geography teachers and middle manager-types to recycle days and days after they're still funny and/or relevant.
This band of social media satirists don't have much time on their side, so they tend to stick to stock gags revolving around other current issues and long-running memes. Here's a small selection of the jokes we went looking for on Twitter, and sadly, depressingly and really just too predictably, found there.
#1. "Paul Gascoigne's coming down with a fishing rod and a bottle of lager!"
No, Paul Gascoigne isn't coming down, he's probably spent the afternoon hammering on a pub door in Gateshead (though maybe whilst coming down? IDK). This is a Twitter favourite, omnipresent whenever anyone gets taken hostage anywhere in the world. Yet people still seem to find it funny. It's the Keith Lemon phenomenon, it just sort of shows up every now and then rearranged slightly and the idiots still crack up at it.
#2. "His Latte must have been too cold looooool!"
We know now that the Green actually stormed the offices of an HGV licensing company, but initially Twitter believed that the siege was happening in a branch of Starbucks. But, if there's water in the well, the satirists will drink from it. Cue a load of people making jokes about things you can buy in Starbucks, and the bomber being annoyed about them. Are they making some kind of sincere statement about globalisation and the corporate elites? Probably not (though to be fair, that probably wouldn't make the jokes any funnier).
Wow, this guy should be writing for Have I Got News For You.
#3. "Lorry drivers? They're all nuts hah!"
Maybe this is a hangover of too many cliched hitchhike horror movie plots, but the public seem to be of the opinion that everyone who's licensed to drive a lorry is some kind of major incident waiting to happen. That they're all 18-wheeler Travis Bickles, just waiting to "pull a Michael Green" and explode all over the decent majority. While it's true that Peter Sutcliffe and the Suffolk Strangler were both truckers, it's unlikely that every Eddie Stobart employee is on the verge of strapping explosives to their body and alerting London's finest terror-cops to the fact. Leave off the truckers, Twitter comedians, how do you think your fucking iPad got to you?
#4. "Insert lame football gag of your choice!"
Anyone who listens to TalkSport will know that football is a vast, bottomless ocean of banter, and the people of Twitter are fully prepared to scrape the bottom of that ocean on the off-chance that they'll surface clutching a cheap gag. The above tweet is a particularly poor example, as the news story it's referencing isn't remotely relevant to the situation. It's just two things that have happened in the last 24 hours. If it was in Barcelona, or the guy with the bomb was Catalan, or anything like that had happened, then maybe it would work. But it doesn't, because it's a humour cut-and-shut, just two separate and unrelated news stories crammed together in a joke that will fall apart tragically as soon as it's "on road".
#5. "Yeah, bet the pigs don't care 'cos he's not a Muslim!"
Woaaaah, slow down there. You don't wanna end up on some kind of CIA hit list with inflammatory tweeting like that. I know you're challenging opinions, but you don't want to end up like Dr David Kelly.
Twitter is absolutely full of people making ham-fisted, centre-left, Comment Is Free-type statements on any situation, and one of the most well-ground axes is the idea that the police and the rich men behind the media hate Muslims. While this may well be true, so what? I'm sure the Met are reading these right now and thinking about the harm they're causing with their stereotyping and persecution.
And come on dude, Jean Charles de Menezes jokes are soooo 2005. What next, a Pete Doherty gag?
#6. "Somebody's having the worst Friday since Rebecca Black, ahaha!"
Twitter, me so disappoint.
Follow Clive on Twitter: @thugclive