London's rudest, funniest panto jokes of 2022

Every country has its weird festive quirks. In Venezuela, people rollerskate to church. In Austria, they dress up as devils and rampage through the streets. In Greenland, they chomp on raw whale skin. And in the UK? Well, we have pantomimes where men in extravagant drag make blisteringly rude jokes in front of an audience of kids (and their half-cut parents). And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Centuries before narrowminded protesters started picketing Drag Queen Storytime events, Victorian panto dames were regaling families with lashings of seasonal innuendo. This year, big names including Ian McKellen and Julian Clary are getting dragged up for Christmas in the West End, while local playhouses take on classic fairy tales, and pub theatres stage ribald adults-only shows. Here are some of the funniest lines around. And if they don’t make you chuckle? You have to be there, darling!

Jack and the Beanstalk at Palladium
Photograph: Paul Coltas

‘I don’t want to blow my own trumpet… that’s a lie, I can’t think of anything nicer. Think of the trouble it would save!’

Julian Clary in Jack and the Beanstalk, Palladium Theatre

‘Me and Donny [Osmond] got on very well. He invited me to Las Vegas. I’m sure he wanted me to open for him.’

Clary airs his fondness for Donny Osmond, his co star in last year’s Palladium panto

‘I had a one night stand with Paul Hollywood. I don’t regret that soggy bottom.’

Clary’s co star Dawn French rises to the challenge

Ian McKellen and John Bishop in Mother Goose
Photograph: Manuel HarlanIan McKellen and John Bishop in Mother Goose

‘I’ve long been partial to a cockatoo.’

83-year-old acting legend Ian McKellen confesses his fondness for the birds (or does he?) in Mother Goose, Duke of York’s Theatre

Sleeping Beauty at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch
Photograph: Mark Sepple

Princess: ‘My Prince didn’t come.’

Super Nanny: ‘Men never come when you want them to.’

An early education in life’s disappointments at Sleeping Beauty, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Cracked at Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Photograph: Chris Jepson

‘I thought it would be nice to take her to see the Royal Corgis. But they’re with the groomer and she hates Prince Andrew.’

The stakes are higher and the jokes are ruder in adults-only panto Cracked, at Royal Vauxhall Tavern

‘If I find out you lied to me I’ll come down on you like a ton of pricks, and no that’s not a typo. I’ll drop the House of Lords on you.’

More ribaldry from Cracked, Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Emmanuel Akwafo as Dame Trott in Lyric Hammersmith's Jack and the Beanstalk
Photograph: Helen MurrayEmmanuel Akwafo as Dame Trott

Dame: ‘I’ve had a few businesses in my time and they always end up in failure.’

Simon: ‘That’s not true, your lingerie shop did alright.’

Dame: ‘No it didn’t, it went bust.’

Jack and the Beanstalk, Lyric Hammersmith

Robin Hood, Greenwich Theatre's 2022 pantomime
Photograph: Lidia Crisafulli

Robin: ‘Have you ever hunted bear?’

Sheriff: ‘No, I always keep my tights on.’

Robin Hood at Greenwich Theatre

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