Readers’ Feature / Comic
Speech Bubbles
Drawn by Ken Harrison

62 appearances (over 124 pages)
between issue no. 25 (05/07/75)
and no. 87 (11/09/76).
Did not appear in issue no. 33.
All were printed in black and white.

Jest A Minute replaced the readers’ letter page Sammy’s Wacky Weekly. There, a reader’s joke would take up a couple of lines of text or a small frame. Here, five jokes would take up two pages (only four jokes in issue no. 65). The strip was based on the TV show Opportunity Knocks, with Sammy (and Flash) standing in for Hughie Green, a joke-ometer for the clapometer, and jokes rated by the applause of an audience. The audience is only ‘seen’ once (in issue no. 27) and after the first few appearances, ‘applause’ is only ‘heard’ sparingly, disappearing altogether after issue no. 38. Hughie Green himself (as Hughie Cream) appeared in issue no. 36 (see left). A scoreboard was seen at the end of the first ‘show’, but not again. The top joke would win its sender £2, the rest £1.

The first three ‘shows’ were exceptional for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there were scores not divisible by five:- 106, 28, 147 , 97 (in issue no. 25), 107, 112 (no. 26) and 89 (no. 27). Secondly, there were scores under 100;- 28, 97 (in issue no. 25), 95, 80 (no. 26) 75 and 89 (no. 27). After issue no. 27 there was only one rogue score not divisible by five (113, in issue 38), and two scores below 100 – 95 in nos. 37 and 38. That second 95 was the only score not ‘announced’, but the joke-ometer ‘needle’ is between 90 and 100. Those first three outings had the lowest total scores (at 478, 539, and 559). The total scores gradually got higher and higher over time for no discernible reason (“a bit like A-level results today,” you might add), with the last four outings (issue nos. 84-87) having the highest scores (740, 745, 755 and 760 respectively).

The first winner was Paul Haynes of London with 147. This score was beaten a couple of weeks later by Richard Vernum of Leicester with 150, a score that was equalled 12 times before Tracey Loftus of King’s Lynn scored 155 in issue no. 66. The highest score achieved was 160 in issue nos. 75, 76, 86, and 87. Technically, this makes them the best jokes. Judge for yourself. [ first glimpsed in issue no.62, 170 was the highest achievable score seen on the joke-ometer ]

Top left :-
Shaun O'Donnell,
Didcot (issue no.75)

Top right :-
Ronald Clarke,
Edgeware (no.76)

Bottom left :-
David Mason,
Wolverhampton (no.86)

Bottom right :-
Peter Cameron,
Beauly, Scotland (no.87)

The lowest score ? (and worst joke ?) 28, in the first ‘show’. Hang your head in shame, Miss Julie Mettam…


Young Foo and his nemesis, Basher, were “special guests” in issue no. 39.

Billy the Kid and Pongo presented the ‘show’ while Sammy and Flash were on holiday for four weeks (issue nos. 41-44). Pongo returned in issue nos. 59, 67, 68 (in silhouette), 70, 75, and 76 to do battle with Flash.

In the 1975 Christmas issue (no. 49) Little’Orror introduces the first two contestants.

Jest A Minute was one of seven strips to transfer to BEEZER AND CRACKER when the two comics merged.
The other six were Billy The Kid and Pongo, Iron Hand, Joe Soap, Little 'Orror, Scrapper and Young Foo.