< Slip No. 1585 View the clue list Slip No. 1593 >



1.  J. R. Tozer: Front of kazi covered with rude items by nameless toilet humorist, long gone (k + anag. in joh(n)).

2.  P. McKenna: Scogan say, a clown entertaining king, fashion for the first of Yorkists (K in Joey with smith for Y; ref. Court Jester to Edward VI).

3.  M. Hodgkin: Joe Miller’s first skit flopped – hard for old man of comedy (anag. incl. M + h; ref. 18c. comedian).


M. Barley: Jestbook involves him in composition (not a familiar term for the fellow) (anag. less bo, & lit.).

E. A. Beaulah: For one like Dame Edna it’s a bit hard with mike’s breaking down half way through (anag. central in jot H).

J. R. Beresford: Around the 5th of November is one time for an old-fashioned party with squibs (m in joke sith2; one, squib = joke).

Dr J. Burscough: Hash joint smoke – hit may be source of giggles (anag. incl. J).

M. Coates: Card? Certainly one associated with spreading chestnut (J oke smith, & lit.; ref. Longfellow, ‘The Village Blacksmith’; J = Jack).

R. M. S. Cork: One tried to gag the Mormon founder, putting the leader of Kirtland inside (K in Joe Smith; ref. Joseph S. and jailing of leader of Kirtland Mormon HQ, in Carthage, US).

E. Cross: Pal leaving, order him jestbook: Joe Miller, say (anag. less bo; ref. old jokebook ).

N. C. Dexter: Another way to put him? ‘King o’ Jest’ (anag. incl K, & lit.).

V. Dixon: Franticly making ‘hot’ jests may have given him angst (comp. anag. & lit.; hot = dangerous, stolen, etc.).

M. Freeman: See him involved with jest – and very good in that (OK in anag., & lit.).

C. R. Gumbrell: Joint with smoke all over the place avoided by weak person noted for wheezes (J + anag. less w).

D. Harris: Comical host with mike and a hint of jollity? (anag. incl. j, & lit.).

J. C. Leyland: Billowing smoke’s stopped just-in-time with hydrant (old stand-up type) (anag. in JIT + H).

P. Long: Cast josh with Kermit; not right, but he was funny! (anag. less r; ref. Muppets).

D. F. Manley: It’s me possibly feeding a certain Ms Brand (figure not thin!) and Henry (anag. in Jo (thin)k H, & lit.; ref. Jo B. and Lenny H.).

C. J. Morse: All right in most of his humour, you can pull him up about the rest! (OK in jes + t in him (rev.), & lit.).

R. J. Palmer: See him jest outrageously? That’s about right (OK in anag., & lit.).

R. Phillips: One must have contrived hokiest Joe Millers initially (anag. incl. J, M, & lit.; J. M. = old joke).

D. J. Short: A card, mainly? This source of mirth will be funny! (Joke(r) + anag. incl. m, & lit.).

P. L. Stone: Smoke joint getting high on it then start to have a funny turn (anag. incl. J + it + h).

D. H. Tompsett: Joe Miller’s his, maybe – so he can dress in Joe’s mackintosh! (comp. anag.; ref. old jokebook).

A. J. Wardrop: Who might make jest – him? That’s about right (OK in anag., & lit.).

R. J. Whale: Crack supplier provides joint: exotic smoke with staggering ‘hit’ (J + anag. + anag.).


Mrs P. A. Bax, C. J. Brougham, Rev Canon C. M. Broun, E. J. Burge, B. Burton, C. J. & M. P. Butler, C. W. Clenshaw, R. Cohen, A. Cox, K. W. Crawford, R. G. Crosland, A. J. Dorn, L. K. Edkins, M. P. S. Elliott, Mrs D. I. Fenter, C. D. S. & E. A. Field, Dr I. S. Fletcher, R. E. Ford, H. Freeman, G. I. L. Grafton, J. Grimes, J. F. Grimshaw, J. P. Guiver, A. & R. Haden, R. J. Heald, R. Hesketh, A. Hodgson, G. Johnstone, Mrs J. Mackie, P. W. Marlow, J. R. C. Michie, B. G. Midgley, C. G. Millin, T. J. Moorey, M. Overton, F. R. Palmer, D. Price Jones, H. L. Rhodes, J. H. Russell, M. Sanderson, V. Seth, D. P. Shenkin, N. G. Shippobotham, Ms B. J. Widger.

271 entries, a handful having UNIT for UNIX, and more than a handful having RAGE for RAGI (admittedly rather a tricky clue). Favourite clue without a doubt was the one for ELSAN, while those for PROD and JICKAJOG (horrid word!) also attracted favourable comments. (Many also said they’d enjoyed the recent non-competition ‘Misprints’ puzzle, with its additional twist. I’m pleased about this and shall continue occasionally to give you non-comp specials for the benefit of those who like competing but are not fond of clue-writing.)
JOKESMITH was an awkward customer. Although Chambers labels it archaic, neither Webster nor the OED does, though the most recent citation in the latter is from the 1 880s. As usual, I applaud those who addressed the word’s supposed datedness in their clues, without automatically disqualifying those who did not. It seems to mean a writer or inventor of jokes, rather than one who tells them, but since many comedians write their own material I didn’t regard this as a very important distinction. After completing the puzzle, and when it was too late to change the clue word, I noticed the ‘him jest OK’ anagram and was worried that I’d be deluged by clues exploiting this. There were a fair number, it’s true, many of which needed better wording to achieve a satisfactory ‘& lit.’, but the more successful competitors tended to steer clear of it, wisely I think. J’s are always tricky to deal with (see my comment on JICKAJOG above), and again the better clues tended to be those which coped with it most imaginatively. Those quoted above should demonstrate most graphically what I’m getting at. I was also pleased to be introduced to Joe Miller, who was new to me.
There is an interesting footnote to Mr McKenna’s nice prizewinning clue. Research, e.g. in the Dictionary of National Biography, indicates that John Scogan was the jester at the court of King Edward IV (the first monarch of the House of York), not Edward I as Chambers would have us believe. John Scogan only gets into the DNB in the entry for Henry Scogan (or Scoggin), a poet and friend of Chaucer born around 1360. Much later, after the appearance of John Scogan’s jestbook, the identities of the two men were conflated in the popular imagination. It’s not clear which of the two benefited more from this misunderstanding.


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