IT may seem like a simple idea on paper, but behind the scenes Dave Spikey has made sure his most recent tour packs a punch.

The veteran comic, who starred as Jerry 'St. Clair' Dignan on Phoenix Nights with Peter Kay, does not tell jokes in the traditional sense in his Punchlines show.

He uses visual aids to help change the belief that the punchline must come after a joke is told — and he hopes to prove that, out of context, a nun in a bath can still be funny.

After dates across the country, the multi award winning stand up artist, from Farnworth, is bringing the tour to a more intimate setting at the Met in Bury for a warm up show in aid of Bolton charity Pet Rehome.

Dave said: "Punchlines can come from anything, like newspaper headlines or song lyrics — some of them just demand a punchline. For example, the first line of You've Lost that Loving Feeling by the Righteous Brothers says, 'You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips.'

"Well how do you know without looking? It's one rule for one, one for another.

"Then of course you have nuns. Nuns in baths, nuns on bikes and Prince Charles wearing a fur hat."

The idea for the show came from a throw away comment his friend said in the pub.

Dave said: "My wife and I have a big cross section of friends like painters, plasterers and printers, and we always like to go to the pub early doors. We were talking and a mate happened to say that when there's a group of friends together, sooner rather than later everyone starts laughing — it's part of our nature. Someone will always see an opportunity to make something funny.

"From that, I thought maybe that's what people are doing now — they're making their own punchlines. Not like a regular joke followed by a punchline, it's more improvised than that."

There is also a science behind his idea.

Dave said: "I read a Readers' Digest story — probably at the doctors — about the brain and how it's a pattern making machine, so once we've read a story if someone repeats it we remember it, which is why you don't laugh at a joke as much the second time.

"I wondered if I turn tradition on its head and say the punchlines in the first half of my act followed by the joke part in the second half, but it didn't work and people just stared at me as if I was mad.

"So instead I created a power point presentation so when people came into the theatre flashing up various punchlines. Then I did the jokes later on and people laughed.

"I think that the audience seeing them is different to hearing them because people hear their own voice in their head, rather than my intimation and pace. So when I come along and disguise the story, you don't know what's going with what punchline — and it comes as a surprise and hopefully, you'll laugh."

All proceeds from the gig, on September 3, will go to the charity Pet Rehome, based in Bolton.

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