The story of a RT

Yesterday I made a joke, for which I am deeply, deeply sorry.

It was sparked by a tweet from Sally Bercow.

Break from #eurovision tweets (a girl’s gotta eat) & I see UK is bombing. Hate to say I told you so but… I did

My response:

Politicians’ wives should never use the phrase “UK is bombing” in tweets.

It was, arguably, a funny. A jest. You see, “UK is bombing” has two meanings. In the context written, it meant that the UK, specifically Engelbert Humperdinck, was doing badly in said Eurovision competition. But in another context, it might mean that the UK is invading another nation.

Couple with this the closeness of Sally to the people who make decisions like going to war, it was comedy gold. To get the joke across, I referenced her being the wife of a politician, a key element, I felt.

Now I admit, it wasn’t the funniest joke ever. But it was mildly amusing. It was retweeted by Sally herself, and by around 25 other people. But then there was the odd twerp who didn’t see the funny side.

Take @spangletart, aka M Phillips.

Get a life eh Dan! A Woman is not defined by her husbands career! We don’t live in Saudi! #sexistmuppetry

Or @soundscapes.

Er … @SallyBercow is a person first … and a politician’s wife second. She can say what she likes.

It seems that no matter how clearly in jest a tweet is, it will always be misinterpreted, either knowingly or unknowingly, by a special few.

Almost exactly a week earlier, I made another joke.

George Osborne told the BBC he would “focus 100%” on the economy and not get “distracted” by other issues. ‪#UCL‬

The quote was direct from the BBC website. The #UCL hashtag was a reference to the Uefa Champions League, Osborne featuring in the crowd. At the time of the quote (6 May), I thought it was a ludicrous statement. I thought that other government priorities would be sure to at least partially compromise this ideal. But when presented with such a fabulous circumstance, I couldn’t help but call him on it.

It was retweeted well over 100 times (a personal record by a long shot), most notably by Alastair Campbell, but also drew a few annoyed responses.

Brian Fairclough:

@danosirra so he has given less than 100% so far?

Sun Dance McKid:

so he cannae go to a football match? 🙂 is he allowed to eat/do crosswords/play table tennis?

And Nick Reid:

He was sitting next to the German finance minister for the entire match. Don’t you think that might be useful ?

My tweet wasn’t an evaluation of his performance as Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a cheap, amusing dig at his very bold statement not two weeks prior. (That said, if I’d made such a statement and was in the public eye, I’d probably have chosen to watch the Champions League final in my living room.)

Jokes on Twitter are fun, particularly when they pick up some momentum like the two examples above. And part of the fun is watching the joke fall flat for the special few.

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