HE IS the undisputed king of the one-liner and holds the world record for cracking the most gags in the space of an hour.
But Fringe funnyman Tim Vine admits he is slightly embarrassed after one of his many quick-fire gigs was named the best at the festival for the second time in four years.
The English comic has won the title, which is chosen via a public poll from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of leading comedy critics, almost two decades after being winning Perrier’s “best newcomer” crown.
But the Fringe’s most notorious “punslinger” says comics should be allowed to pick their own entries in future after winning with a gag he admits is far from his best. Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents voted for his gag “I decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust” as their funniest joke of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Vine had previously triumphed in 2010 with: “I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I’ll tell you what, never again.”
The 47-year-old has been a runner-up in the top ten organised by TV Dave every year since, with gags like: “My friend told me he was going to a fancy dress party as an Italian island. I said ‘don’t be Sicily’.”
Vine, who has published a string of books of his favourite jokes, told The Scotsman: “It’s obviously a very nice award to get, but I wouldn’t even have said that was one of my best gags. I’m slightly embarrassed about it, to be honest. If it was up to me I’d have gone for ‘I went out on a date with Simile. I don’t know what I metaphor.’
“It worries me a bit that people look at the list and think ‘is that really the best joke at the Fringe’. It would be good if we could submit our own jokes.”
Vine, who made his Fringe debut in 1993, has developed a huge cult following at the festival, thanks to his quick-fire wise-cracking, which saw him enter the Guinness World Records in 2004 by cracking 499 jokes in the space of an hour.
But fans of Vine, whose show Timtimine Timtiminee Tim Tim To You is on at the Pleasance until Sunday, could be in for a shock.
The brother of BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine added: “I don’t think I’ll be here next year as I’m going to be on tour and I’m actually thinking about putting together my own puppet show in future in which I’d only appear on stage now and again.
“It’s actually quite labour intensive doing so many jokes in the one show, but people seem to like it for the quantity you get, although I have a bit less in the current show as I have some silly props and sing some songs.”
Each of the ten journalists who spent a week looking for the best jokes on the Fringe were asked to submit their three favourites from an average of 60 shows each.
Three female comics featured in the final top ten, reflecting a surge in women performing on the Fringe.
However, just one of the gags touched on the debate over Scotland’s future, with Scott Capurro quipping: “Scotland had oil, but it’s running out thanks to all that deep frying.”
The 10 funniest jokes from the Fringe Festival 2014.
1 “I’ve decided to sell my Hoover ... well, it was just collecting dust” - Tim Vine.
2 “I’ve written a joke about a fat badger, but I couldn’t fit it into my set” - Masai Graham.
3 “Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say to me. Which is why he lost his job in disaster relief” - Mark Watson.
4 “I was given some Sudoku toilet paper. It didn’t work. You could only fill it in with number 1s and number 2s” - Bec Hill.
5 “I wanted to do a show about feminism. But my husband wouldn’t let me” - Ria Lina.
6 “Money can’t buy you happiness? Well, check this out, I bought myself a Happy Meal” - Paul F Taylor.
7 “Scotland had oil, but it’s running out thanks to all that deep frying” - Scott Capurro.
=8 “I forgot my inflatable Michael Gove, which is a shame ‘cause halfway through he disappears up his own a***hole” - Kevin Day.
=8 “I’ve been married for 10 years, I haven’t made a decision for seven” - Jason Cook.
10 “This show is about perception and perspective. But it depends how you look at it” - Felicity Ward.
“Honourable mentions”, which just missed out on the top spots.
“I go to the kebab shop so much that when they call me boss in there it’s less a term of affection, more an economic reality” - Ed Gamble.
“Leadership looks fun, but it’s stressful. Just look at someone leading a conga” - James Acaster.
“I bought myself some glasses. My observational comedy improved” - Sara Pascoe.