It is a fundamental part of any traditional Christmas dinner – reading out the bad jokes pulled out of crackers before tucking in to a juicy turkey.
But now the nation has chosen the best Christmas joke of 2016 – penned by an amateur comedian from Scotland.
The joke, which draws on the UK’s controversial decision to leave the European Union for inspiration, was written by Edinburgh woman Laura McDonnell, whose grandfather was a comedy writer for the BBC in the 1970s.
In a competition to find Britain’s best Christmas gag, comedy TV station Gold asked members of the public to create the best Christmas cracker jokes, which were submitted via Twitter and shortlisted by a panel of judges before being put to a vote to reveal the winning gags.
The top joke, which received 20 per cent of the public vote, was: “How will Christmas dinner be different after Brexit? No Brussels.”
NHS project support worker Ms McDonnell, 27, said she inherited her comedic talent from her grandfather, Ron, who penned gags for well-known comedians including Morecambe and Wise and Des O’Connor.
She said: “My grandad, Ron McDonnell, used to be a comedy writer with the BBC, writing for the likes of Morecambe and Wise so I really got the interest from him and thought I would enter a few jokes.
“I’ve entered the competition for about three years now, so didn’t think I would ever win.”
She added: “I’m still in shock, it’s great news. Maybe one day I’ll pursue a career in comedy, never say never, if my dad heard me say that though, he would probably laugh.”
Puns about the performance of Roy Hodgson’s World Cup team, Labour leader Jeremy’s Corbyn’s collapsing cabinet and the hours of Sports Direct workers also made it into the Top Ten list. Meanwhile, jokes just missing out on making it into the top 20 included puns about astronaut Tim Peake’s stocking, Bob Dylan’s Nobel Peace Prize and football manager Sam Allardyce getting the sack.
Ms McDonnell wins a prize of £1,500 of holiday vouchers and a box of bespoke Christmas crackers, one of which will contain her own joke.
Comedy critic Bruce Dessau, who headed up the Gold judging panel, said: “One thing the British will always be good at is finding the funny side to almost any situation, and it’s no surprise that Brexit featured as one of the dominant topics of this year’s jokes.”
Steve North, general manager of Christmas Gold at UKTV, said: “We’ve got a brilliant selection of jokes this year – perhaps our best yet.
“The British sense of humour is clearly as sharp as ever, and what better way to enjoy a bit festive cheer.”
Scottish comedian Susan Morrison said: “For me, this isn’t a joke, but a dream come true. I hate sprouts.
“Groany jokes do much better at Christmas, so the best thing to do is tell a pun because they’re terible and you get that groaning laugh.
“Non pun jokes are often offensive but that’s the last thing you want at Christmas – you don’t want the Brussel sprouts going flying across the table.”
She added: “Alhough the one fear of this joke is that it might raise the topic of ‘which side are you on in Brexit?’ which is a topic to be avoided this Christmas.”
FESTIVE FUN, THE WINNERS AND LOSERS
1 How will Christmas dinner be different after Brexit? No Brussels. 20%
2 What do workers at Sports Direct get for Christmas dinner? About 5 minutes. 19%
3 How do you recognise a Christmas tree from BHS? All the branches have gone. 17%
4 I bought my mum Mary Berry’s cookbook for Christmas, I tried to get Paul Hollywood’s but he’d sold out. 14%
5 What’s David Cameron’s favourite Christmas song? All I Want For Christmas is EU. 14%
6 Why has Hillary Clinton asked Santa for a 23-letter alphabet? Because she is sick of F.B.I. 13%
7 Why didn’t Roy Hodgson go to visit Santa at The North Pole? He couldn’t get past Iceland. 12%
8 Why are Jeremy Corbyn’s Christmas cards on the floor? His cabinet collapsed. 12%
9 Philip looks out of the window on Christmas Eve: ‘That’s some reindeer.’ The Queen replies: ‘63 years. Yes, that is a lot.’ 11%
10 The difference between the clementine in your Christmas stocking and Donald Trump? Nothing, they’re both a little orange. 10%
11 What do you get if you cross Donald Trump with a Christmas Carol? O Comb Over Ye Faithful. 10%
12 What’s the best advice you can give at the UKIP Christmas party? Avoid the punch. 9%
13 Why did the three wise men only have frankincense and myrrh? Because Team GB took all the gold. 8%
14 Which parent is likely to do the Christmas shop at Tesco this year? Dad might, Marmite not. 8%
15 Why can’t the England football team play Yahtzee this Christmas? Because they got rid of Allardyce. 8%
16 I can’t get to the chocolates in my advent calendar. Foiled again. 8%
17 Why is Bob Dylan’s sleigh so quiet? Because it has Nobel. 7%
18 Why is everyone filing for divorce and custody of the kids this Christmas? Tis the season to be Jolie. 7%
19 Who might be cooking Christmas dinner at Number 10 this year? Theresa May. 7%
20 Why can’t Mary Berry eat turkey sandwiches? Paul Hollywood took all the bread. 4%