46 of Bill Bailey’s most gleefully funny jokes and one-liners

(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Bill Bailey has been delighting audiences with his musical virtuosity, surreal tangents and trademark intelligence for nearly 30 years, both on stage and on screen

As the comedian brings his latest show, Larks in Transit, to Edinburgh Playhouse we’ve compiled some of his finest jokes and one-liners.

(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

His world tour calls into Edinburgh on 31 May, before heading north to Aberdeen on 1 June and there are still tickets available.

To celebrate the Scottish dates, here are his funniest gags from stand-up and TV appearances:

“The day after tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life – that way you’ve always got a couple of days in hand.”

“Why do people want to swim with dolphins? The equivalent would be an Indonesian fellow coming over here, going up to a farmer and saying ‘Can I get in with the cows? I just fancy scuffling about with them.'”

(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

“Toughest job I ever had: selling doors, door to door.”

“This was my attempt to deter cold callers: ‘There’s no past, there’s no future, just one pulsating present… Please leave your message after the tone.'”

“Nostalgia: How long’s that been around?”

“How many amoebas does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, no two! No four! No eight!”

(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

“Aldous Huxley took the drug mescaline and then chronicled his experience in the book The Doors of Perception. Now, I don’t think that’s the first thing he wrote: he probably wrote ‘my brain is melting’ ten thousand times, but it was the book that the critics latched on to.”

“I spent my childhood scrambling round badgers and foxes and playing fantastic country kid games like knocking on people’s doors and running away. God that was a good game.”

“A lot of people say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I don’t think there’s a fine line, I think there’s a yawning gulf. You see some poor bugger scuffling up the road with balloons tied to his ears, he’s not going home to invent a rocket, is he?”

“People say ‘Bill, are you an optimist?’ And I say, ‘I hope so.'”

“The national Welsh dish, cheese on toast, that’s fantastic. ‘We’re having a big ambassadorial reception.’ ‘All right, I’ll get the grill on, shall I? You want a bit of chutney on it?’ ‘No, don’t go mad Rhodri, it’s only Fiji.'”

“I suppose you could be a member of a terrorist organization in a non-violent way, in the laundry or the catering department.”

“Three women walk into a pub and say, `Hooray, we’ve colonised a male-dominated joke format.'”

“I’m English, and as such I crave disappointment. That’s why I buy Kinder Surprise. Sometimes I eat the toy out of sheer despair.”

“Contentment is knowing you’re right. Happiness is knowing someone else is wrong.”

“I’m amazed by how compliant people are in this country. They go into service stations – ‘cathedrals of despair’, as I call them – where baseball-capped ghouls of the night lord it over their congealed bean kingdoms, their fried-bread twilights, their neon demi-mondes, tempting you to enter to become them, undead. ‘Ooh, beans on toast, £18.95, very reasonable. Oh no, I’m not going to complain. They probably pump them up from London in special tubes.'”

“The BBC did a survey of the top 50 things to do before we die. Not while we’re still alive, before we die.”

“When I was a child, I was terrified by the theme from The Magic Roundabout. It was very sinister, wasn’t it? It just went on and on, like Dante’s seventh circle of Hell.”

“It’s the joggers I don’t trust, ‘cos they’re always the ones that find the bodies, aren’t they?”

“Marijuana? It’s harmless really, unless you fashion it into a club and beat somebody over the head with it.”

“I was in the supermarket. I was at one of the new self-service tills. You know the ones – with the two extra members of staff hanging around.”

“It’s not a beard, it’s an animal I’ve trained to sit very still.”

“We won’t have any genetically modified food, oooh no, we won’t have any GM. Which is a shame, I think we’ve missed a trick there. We could develop wheat with the properties of Velcro… to catch whatever it is that’s forming those crop circles! But then the spaceship would have to have the corresponding Velcro, so it’s a bit of a long shot.”

“I’m a vegetarian. I’m not strict; I eat fish, and duck. Well, they’re nearly fish, aren’t they? They’re semi-submerged a lot of the time, they spend a lot of time in the water, they’re virtually fish, really. And pigs, cows, sheep, anything that lives near water, I’m not strict. I’m sort of like a post-modern vegetarian; I eat meat ironically.”

[On pop music] “There’s more evil in the charts than in an Al-Qaeda suggestion box.”

“Three blind mice walk into a pub. But they are unaware of their surroundings, so to derive humour from it would be exploitative.”

“Milton Keynes: Satan’s lay-by.”

“Without the beat in the background, Jazz basically sounds like an armadillo was let loose on the keyboard.”

[On the Killers’ lyrics] “Deep down, it really is just a meaningless lyric, isn’t it? ‘I got soul, but I’m not a soldier’. I mean, you may as well be saying ‘I got ham, but I’m not a hamster.'”

“I feel sorry for James Blunt, he has to wake up every morning and think ‘Oh my God, I’m James Blunt, what have I done?'”

“A horse walks into a bar, and the barman says, ‘Why the long face?’. The horse replies: ‘I’m deeply troubled by the anthropomorphic aspects of my existence and the extent to which I am now protected by law.'”

“Not a very well-known fact, but on planes they always carry a trombone just in case there’s a disaster and they need to keep morale up. All cabin crew – fully proficient in the trombone. And of course, there’s a double facility: if you ditch at sea, it can be used as a snorkel.”

“Not so great in England at the moment; in an online poll we came last, we actually came bottom of European countries for quality of life, because of things like the weather, obviously, late retirement, poor holiday, poor public services, poor health service; it’s basically just a kind of grey, godless wilderness, full of cold pies and broken dreams.”

“I would never condone the burning of a Dan Brown novel, much though I loathe and detest his work. Well, I say ‘work’, you know, words, randomly arranged to form millions of dollars… I’m not bitter at all…”

“Tonight’s show is about doubt. Or maybe it isn’t – haven’t made my mind up yet.”

“Thank God for Darwin, eh?”

[As Bilbo in Spaced]: “I once punched a bloke in the face for saying Hawk the Slayer was rubbish… but that’s not the point, Tim. The point is, I was defending the fantasy genre with terminal intensity when what I should have said is ‘Dad, you’re right. But let’s give Krull a try, and we’ll discuss it later.'”

“The scotch egg is such a Scottish food. It’s as though a great Scottish chef said ‘I need a tasty snack. Let’s take an egg… and wrap it in meat! Makes it a bit harder.'”

“Three blokes go into a pub. One of them is a little bit stupid, and the whole scene unfolds with a tedious inevitability.”

“What I’d like to do now? Well, what I’d like to do now is grow my beard very long, weave it into my pubes and strum it like a harp.”

“Three blokes go into a pub. Well, I say three; could be four or five. Could be nine or ten, doesn’t matter. Could have been fifteen, twenty – fifty. Round it up. Hundred. Let’s go mad, eh – two-fifty. Tell you what, double it up – five hundred. Thousand! Oh, I’ve gone mad! Two thousand! Five thousand! Anyone? Five thousand, six thou, six thousand, ten thousand! Small town in Hertfordshire goes into a pub! Fifteen thousand blokes! Alright, let’s go – population of Rotterdam. The Hague. Whole of Northern Holland. Mainland U.K. Let’s go all the way to the top – Europe, alright? Whole of Europe goes – I say Europe. Could be Eurasia. Not the band, obviously, that’s just two of them. Alright, continents – North America! Plus, South America! Plus, Antarctica – that’s just eight blokes in a weather station. Not a good example. Alright, make it a lot simpler, all the blokes on the planet go into the pub, right? And the first bloke goes up to the bar and he says ‘I’ll get these in.’ What an idiot!”

“The universe is gradually slowing down and will eventually collapse inwardly on itself, according to the laws of entropy when all its thermal and mechanical functions fail, thus rendering all human endeavours ultimately pointless. Just to put the gig in some sort of context.”

“I can't ever remember ever seeing any charity porn, though. ‘Farmyard Frolics 3: A portion of this goes to a women's literacy programme in Eritrea.’”

[as George W. Bush] “I will tame evil, I will get the evil ones, we must find the evil ones. We must get evil, we must laminate evil, we must wear it round our necks, at the backstage party in paradise!”

“For me, it was like being smacked around the head by a piece of IKEA furniture: it hurts, but you've got to admire the workmanship.”

“Orchestras have often been used to conjure up the natural world: Swans, sharks, trout, but not, as far as I know, the often-maligned jellyfish.”