There was an outbreak of mass hysteria at The All England Tennis Championships today after a member of the audience shouted ‘Come on Tim!’ even though there was nobody called Tim actually playing.
‘When the man said 'Come on Tim!' Centre Court just erupted,’ said presenter Sue Barker, ‘people were rolling about the aisles, the players couldn’t continue and the umpire was laughing so much he fell off his chair. It was pandemonium. We haven’t seen anything like this since the time when the pigeon landed on Court Number 3.’
The contagious laughter spread so fast that play on all courts was suspended with a number of people taken to hospital complaining of chest pains. ‘At one stage we feared the joke might derail the entire Championships,’ said Tournament Director Ian Ritchie, ‘we only managed to restore order by repeatedly opening and closing the retractable roof - something we use to help calm people down.'
Speaking afterwards, the man who shouted the line, Mr Lionel Bream from Godalming, Surrey, said: ‘I noticed that people were shouting for the two players on court so I thought that it would be really funny if, instead, I shouted ‘Come on Tim!’ I guess the rest is history.’
‘The line ‘Come on Tim!’ is so amusing because it creates a surreal juxtaposition,’ explained comedy expert Dr Jonathan Miller, ‘it refers to a time when people genuinely shouted ‘Come on Tim!’ for Tim Henman, a man who is himself a joke. Thus, by shouting ‘Come on Tim!’ when Tim wasn’t even there, Mr Bream created a sublime moment of post-ironic metatextual comedy genius.’
The shout has now been confirmed as the funniest incident in the entire history of the All England Club, funnier even than when Ilie Nastase got down on all fours and looked into the Cyclops line calling machine, more amusing than when Henri Leconte pulled a face and minced round the court pretending to be a girl, and more ironic than every time John McEnroe knowingly says ‘You cannot be serious’ when he isn’t even being serious.
‘Those were all truly hilarious incidents,’ said veteran tennis commentator John Barrett, ‘but when that man shouted ‘Come on Tim!’ I laughed so hard I shat my pants.’