Red-nosed BBC staff may find themselves responsible for a serious outbreak of chuckles in an area of the UK previously thought to be devoid of any humour whatsoever.
Moments after the start of a 'workshop for aspiring writers' in Manchester, there were reports of several attendees snorting coffee out through their noses in unison.
Shocked conference organisers called emergency services, and the building was quickly cordoned off.
But by the time BBC Light Entertainment specialists arrived in protective suits, it was too late. Many of the victims were already doubled up, some with split sides. Many were in stitches.
One BBC staffer, a seasoned sitcom-writer, reported that "They were making this strange noise. All of them - a sort of 'ha...ha...' sound. He described the sound as "eerie", and noted that he had "never heard anything like it in all his years at the BBC."
Comedy poisoning is indeed the most likely cause, according to the experts, who were adamant that the special suits be worn at the scene.
"Most people have seen this clobber before - the red nose, the silly wig, and those oversize shoes. But what they don't know is that it’s actually emergency protective gear. Put them on anywhere else, and, well, people stop laughing immediately, don't they? And besides, it makes you look like a knob."
Within hours of the outbreak, researchers into depression at the University of Oslo had analysed the results and sketched a map of exactly how such an airborne disease is passed from one human to another by simple repetition or 'parroting'.
But not everyone is impressed by such a simplistic "parrot" sketch - especially the Norwegian Blue variety.
Arts programmers in particular are warning that it may even be something older and more difficult for people to cope with these days. Maybe even, they suggest, the Feste virus from the thirteenth century, last written about in Shakespeare's time.
But regardless of the source, workshop organisers are now regretting breaking away from the traditional comedy format and exploring “risky” areas which “might actually be funny”, without having first thought about the effect that this might have on viewers and listeners.
Luckily, the emergency was contained quickly, but it has served to remind industry workers of the dangers of unintentional humour.
In the words of one organiser, “The BBC probably should have given up on getting laughs out of people ages ago. Better to just stayed in London, and keep playing with the controller’s tired and wrinkled knob gags, slowly watching them get longer and harder to swallow".