Life’s a joke for Edward

Edward Phillips claims to have largest joke collection in the country - and has now published his first original writing at the age of 83

MENTION any topic under the sun to Edward Phillips and he will tell you a joke on that theme – and probably have another 10 up his sleeve.

The pensioner claims to have the largest gag archive in the country – although he admits he cannot prove it – with a vast library of more than 900 joke books, all indexed by subject.

He even wrote 14 of the volumes himself, in a series of titles that includes The Best Medical Jokes, The Best Girlfriend Jokes and The Best Religious Jokes.

While those were put together from quips in the collection, at the age of 83, Edward, who lives in Pyrland Road, Highbury, saw his first published original writings hit the shelves earlier this month – a collection of mostly humorous short stories, sketches and verse titled I’m Going Mad Next Tuesday.

He says: “I’ve always wanted to get published, and then one day I thought, ‘I’ve got enough material for a book now, so I will have a try’. It took a good year before I found a publisher that liked it and wanted to publish it.

“The book is a satire on modern life. Everybody is going mad nowadays, all standards of behaviour and so on are disappearing, and so it’s about being fed up of trying to lead a decent life – and deciding to join the mob.”

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It is the product of a lifelong passion for writing and humour, and the jokester’s love of laughter even saw him become, as he puts it, a “very unsuccessful stand-up comedian” for a time.

“I’ve always had a sense of comedy and humour,” Edward adds. “I think it’s one of the greatest things. Man is the only animal that laughs. I think it’s very important to see the funny side of life.”

He is a man of many talents: author, magician, comic and veteran actor with credits in films, West End musicals, including an 18-month stint in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate at The Old Vic, and many commercials and voiceovers – which, with a chuckle, he describes as “quite lucrative”.

Giving a brief rundown of some of the highlights of this long career, he said: “I spent a year at the Royal Shakespeare Company, although I didn’t do much. I was also in Four Weddings and a Funeral, playing a waiter, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as an ex-headmaster.”

And despite having heard tens of thousands of jokes in his time, Edward is still seeking out new one-liners, funny stories, and anything that raises a laugh.

He said: “I’m still collecting – there are just so many!”


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