Dave Allen was known as a master storyteller with a razor-sharp wit. The Irish comic was renowned for his humorous anecdotes and jokes told while he was sitting on a tall stool with a whiskey glass in hand.
Born on July 6, 1937, Allen was originally from Tallaght, Dublin. The ex-journalist turned TV personality captured the world’s hearts in the 1960s and 70s.
He was known as one of the most controversial comedians in the United Kingdom as he frequently highlighted political hypocrisy and demonstrated his disregard for religious authority. His delivery was dry and sophisticated but was backed up with razor-sharp intelligence that cut through the absurdities of life and religion. Allen died in 2005 but remains one of the world’s favorite Irish stand-ups.
Here are some of Dave Allen’s best-known jokes and stories:
Fathers and daughters
There’s an interesting thing between parents. Fathers and daughters and mothers and sons. The girl will bring the boy home for you to meet and because you’ve talked in liberal terms all your life you have to kind of follow this through.
“Daddy, I’d like you to meet Paul.” Hello Paul. “Uggggg.” “Can I bring Paul in daddy?” Yeah, of course, you can. “No, but can he stay here?” Yes, of course, you can, he can stay for dinner. “No I mean do you mind if he stays here?” What do you mean, stay here? “Ohh stays in the house.” Doesn’t he have a house of his own? Why does he have to live here? “Cause I’d like him to live here.” Well, where is he going to stay? “He’ll stay with me.” What? In your room?
And that’s it. He’s in. And they take over. She loved Paul. Paul’s an a**ehole. I come down in the morning he’s drinking tea out of my cup. Reading my paper. Eating my food. And not only that he’s humping my daughter. And I’m out in the garden feeding her rabbit! What should be happening: she should be feeding me and he should be out in the garden with the rabbit.
Irish skill of giving directions
I suppose Ireland is the best place in the world for directions. People will say to you, “I wouldn’t start from here if I were you.”
I was driving to Wicklow town and outside Wicklow town, there’s a kind of country road and I came to a crossroad and there was one signpost and it had Wicklow on it and the other way was Wicklow. And there was a fella sitting there and I said does it make any difference? And he said, “Not to me it doesn’t.”
The classic: on my way to Limerick and I said to this fella do you know where this place is? And he said, “Ahh yes. Ahh yes. Oh God yes. Now go down the road, straight down the road just follow your nose. Ahh keep going straight and you’ll see a turn on the right-hand side. Now ignore that. And then there’s a second turn on the right-hand side and ignore that one as well. There’s two, three, four, five. Five turns on the right-hand side, ignore them. Then you see a house on the left-hand side, turn left there. That’s where you want to go.”
And I said why did you tell me about all the right-hand turns? Why didn’t you just say take the first on the left? And he said, “Who’s giving these directions, me or you?”
Toast at a wake "Here’s to your health"
A very important part of the Irish way of life is death. See if anybody else anywhere else in the world dies that’s the end of it. They’re dead. But in Ireland when somebody dies we lay them out and watch them for a couple of days.
It’s called a wake. And it’s great. It’s a party, a sendoff. The fella is laid out on the table and there are drinking and dancing and all the food you can eat and all of your friends come from all over the place and they all stand around the wake table looking at you with a glass in their hands looking at you and they say, “Here’s to your health.”
The terrible thing about dying over in Ireland is you miss your own wake. It’s the best day of your life. You’ve paid for everything and you can’t join in. Mind you, if you did you’d be drinking on your own.
First day at school
The first question they ask, what do you know about God?
I didn’t know anything about God, Who? “God!” Who’s God? “God, you do not know who God is? Sister! Sister! We have an Atheist here!” “Let me tell you, little boy, God is, God was, and God always shall be…” What? “What he is!” What was that? “He is the father! He is the son! He is the holy ghost! He is 3 in 1.” “Do you understand?”
I’m four years of age, why wouldn’t I? Greatest Theological question in the world, three people in one… Where is he? “He is here!” Where? I can’t see him. “That doesn’t mean because you can’t see him he’s not here.” It doesn’t?
He’s in the cupboard? “He’s not in the cupboard! God doesn’t go into cupboards!” He’s under the stairs? “He’s not under the stairs! He is here, with us now. He’s upstairs. He’s downstairs. He’s outside. He’s inside. He’s everywhere.”
He’s a big bloke, why can’t I see him? And I’m asked, “Do you love him?” I don’t know, I’ve never seen him. “God loves you and he wants your love, but if you do not give him your love he will cast you into everlasting flame.” What? “He will cast you into everlasting flame, have you ever burnt yourself? Yes, I burnt myself on a candle. “What was it like?” It was sore. “Can you imagine that pain all over your body? That’s what will happen to you if you do not love God! What do you think of that?”
Skin is actually quite an interesting subject. Do you know that we all shed skin? Did you know that? Did you know that each and every man, woman and child sheds skin. Over an hour each and every one of us sheds something like 10,000-minute scales of skin. Over a three day period, we shed one total layer of skin.
This is fact. This is not made up. Did you know that 90% of the dust in the world is made up of dead human skin? How do you feel about that?
You think you’re dusting your house? You’re not you’re just moving your grandmother around.
You can become grey because of various different reasons. It can be hereditary. A malfunction of the genes can cause greyness. Anemia causes greyness; lacking Vitamin B and Vitamin F causes greyness. Vast quantities of liquids, cause greyness.
Shock causes greyness. Terror, fear, shock, actually it’s been recorded that a man went from being totally black-haired to totally white-haired in something like seven minutes.
That’s an interesting thing, the body hair on my body, I’m going grey at the top of my head, but the rest of my body hair is black. My eyebrows are black. My beard is black. My hands are black. My legs, my chest is black. I noticed recently, I was having a bath, I noticed that I had my first white pubic hair.
Now, what did he see that the others didn’t see? Can you imagine you’re one of those little hairs turning around to the other grey hair… “What did you see?” “I saw… I saw.. Ahhhh!” …Another one.
The demon drink
An old drunk is on his way into a bar when a nun standing outside the bar suddenly speaks to him. “Your drinking is the easy road to evil and damnation. Drink will pollute your body and soul. Give up the foul spirits and live a better life!”
The drunk looks at her and asks, “How do you know that drinking is so bad for you?”
The nun looks puzzled and shrugs. The drunk asks, “Have you ever even tried a drink?” The nun admits she hasn’t, so the drunk tells her, “Listen, I’ll go into the bar and order myself a drink and I’ll get one for you too. I’ll bring it out here and you can taste it yourself and see that alcohol is nothing bad.”
The nun reluctantly agrees, but says, “I don’t want anybody out here getting the wrong idea about me, so would you mind bringing me the drink in a paper cup?”. The drunk agrees to this and goes inside. At the bar, he tells the bartender “Give me a double shot of whiskey, and a second-half shot in a paper cup.”
The bartender groans and says: “Is that bloody nun out there again?”
* Originally published in March 2016, updated in June 2023.