Spalding joke shop on TV as Britain ‘loses its sense of humour’

Gary Parkinson (middle) with Tommy Sandhu (right) and sound man Jason Farey.
Gary Parkinson (middle) with Tommy Sandhu (right) and sound man Jason Farey.
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BBC 1 One Show cameras were filming in Spalding yesterday (Tuesday) to report on the demise of the joke shop as Britons are, apparently, losing their sense of humour.

Parky’s Pranks owner Gary Parkinson provided some jokes for the TV crew to share with market day shoppers and gave his views on why joke shops up and down the country are closing their doors.

Gary has been running his shop in The Crescent for around six years and he’s determined to keep going despite cutting opening days down to Tuesdays and Saturdays because there are more shoppers in town on market days.

He also trades in jokes and fancy dress on Facebook but says he has closed his down his website. We are probably Britain’s smallest joke shop,” says Gary as the film crew take a break. “But what they interviewing me about is the change in people’s sense of humour and if joke shops are dying out because they are getting quieter.”

So has Britain lost its sense of humour? “It probably has,” says Gary. “It’s just the change in the way we live today with everybody on their phones, tablets and iPads.”

Small though it is, Gary’s shop is stacked floor to ceiling – and he can bring goods in to top up the funnybone stock when customers ask for special items. The film crew were out and about testing people’s opinions on one-time favourite rib ticklers like the snake in a tin and googly eyed glasses.

Gary says: “My favourite joke is the ‘snap chewing gum’. You offer somebody a piece of gum and it just snaps at their fingers. It doesn’t hurt, it’s just the shock from it.”

One Show presenter Tommy Sandhu grabbed a set of comedy false teeth for a picture with Gary outside the shop before the crew headed back to London.

Gary said: “The film crew just rung me up this morning and said they wanted to do some footage of me to highlight the plight of our joke shops.”

Researcher Arthur Haynes said the One Show was interested in why joke shops are in decline and were keen to speak to Gary about that because he is running a successful shop.

The show featuring Gary was due to air tonight.

• Are we losing our sense of humour? Email lynne.harrison@iliffepublishing.co.uk