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Whose one liner is it anyway?; You could be quids in with your witty ad libs, quick quips and caustic putdowns.

Byline: BOB SHIELDS

IT'S the currency by which all great wits are valued - the searing quick quip, the devastating ad lib, the spontaneous one-liner.

Comedians tell jokes and after-dinner speakers tell funny stories, but the man with the barbed put-down or cutting comeback is the true genius.

Most are uttered in the pub, building site or office and quickly forgotten when the laughter subsides - but not for much longer.

December sees the launch of the first ever National One-Liner Week - a celebration of wit and spontaneity.

Major sponsors Smirnoff Ice want to collect the best of Britain's unscripted and unrecorded humour.

Spear-heading the hunt is writer, broadcaster and barrister Clive Anderson.

His wit was honed to razor sharpness at Cambridge University and its famous Footlights Club.

Before he had his own shows, he delivered gags for Not The Nine O'Clock News and Smith and Jones and Anderson's quips will take some beating.

When Richard Branson threw a glass of water over his head, he fired back: "I'm used to that - I've flown Virgin".

When Gary Glitter guested on his show, he welcomed him with: "Come in, sit down and take the weight off your ego".

The Bee Gees stormed off his set after telling Clive the band used to be called "Les Tosseurs".

"You'll always be les tosseurs to me," he quipped.

His greeting to actor Roger Moore was: "Is that your real name or just a clever boast?"

And to Jeffrey Archer, the classic: "Is there no beginning to your talents?"

The quick quip can be found anywhere. Chic Murray famously asked one drunken customer acting a bit wildly - "Hey son, do you think it's outside you're in?"

The Scots comic was spotted on a street corner by a wealthy admirer driving a Mercedes. He rolled down the window and asked Chic: "Do you want a lift?".

"No thanks," said Murray, "I live in a bungalow".

And there's the story about Chic tumbling backwards on an icy pavement in Glasgow.

"Did you fall?" asked a female passer-by.

"No, madam, I'm trying to break a bar of chocolate I have in my back pocket".

The world of sport has its fair show of wits and wags.

Asked to comment about rising young Manchester star David Beckham, George Best pronounced: "He has no left foot, he doesn't score many goals, he can't head a ball and can't tackle. Apart from that, he's all right."

There were headlines again when Best said that Kevin Keegan wasn't fit to lace his boots. As debate raged, one journalist observed that Keegan wasn't fit to lace George Best's drinks.

Soccer managers tend to get the last word in these things.

SIR Alex Ferguson said Chelsea's Denis Wise "could start a row in an empty house".

And Scots manager Tommy Docherty had the perfect answer to a query about the attacking skills of Ray Wilkins.

"The only time he goes forward is to toss the coin," said The Doc.

In politics, verbal cut and thrust is all part of the game. Denis Healey's famous put-down of Sir Geoffrey Howe - "Being attacked by him in the House is like being savaged by a dead sheep" - is now part of cross-bench legend.

But it's not in the same league as Winston Churchill's reply to Bessie Braddock's claim: "Winston, you're drunk".

Churchill pulled himself to his feet to deliver the most stinging put-down in Commons history: "And madam, you're ugly. Tomorrow morning, however, I shall be sober".

But when it comes to really slanging it out with one-liners, there's no business like showbusiness.

How about the stinging "The T is silent, as in Harlow", which was Margot Asquith's response after Jean Harlow repeatedly pronounced the T in Margot.

But girls will be girls. Sharon Stone's answer to a question about Gwyneth Paltrow was: "She lives is rarefied air that's a little thin. I don't think she gets enough oxygen".

Or Joan Rivers on Bo Derek: "She has no concept of Roman numerals. She thinks we just fought World War Eleven".

I'll leave the last word to the king of one-liners, Groucho Marx, who told a barman: "Don't put all that ice in that. It takes up too much room".

Have you a brilliant one-liner or witty put-down? We'd like to publish them to mark National One-Liner Week.

Send them to: One-liners, Daily Record, Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA or e-mail them to me at b.shields@ dailyrecord.co.uk - we'll pay for every one used.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 23, 2001
Words:746
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