JETHRO, the commander in chief of the comedians, will decide later today who may live out of Stewart Lee and Michael McIntyre.
The intensifying row between the two comics has prompted a rare intervention from the Cornish wit, who is revered by his peers as a living god.
Jethro’s status as High Clown of the Grand Order of Gelos – the secretive comedians’ sect named after the Greek god of laughter – confers upon him the power to judge any humorist’s right to exist.
A source said: “Jethro believes this divisive rift between sour-faced meta-jokesmith Lee and McIntyre, who favours energetic descriptions of online shopping and hot drinks, could have triggered a bloody war between the exponents of popular and unpopular comedy.
“Hence both comics have been summoned to perform ‘tight 20 minute sets’ before Jethro, who will be seated on an ornate throne flanked by golden serpents.
“Whichever comedian elicits the least belly laughs from the rustic arbiter of mirth will be put to death in an amusing but lethal slapstick ceremony involving ladders, buckets and a very heavy piano suspended by an insubstantial piece of rope.”
He added: “Personally I believe Lee’s pedantic deconstructionist approach, coupled with a penchant for deliberate repetition and obvious disdain for his audience places him at a substantial disadvantage to McIntyre’s more traditional ‘antics’.”
Jethro, whose 1998 gig at Frome Town Hall during his Behind The Bushes tour is the single funniest event in history, replaced Mike Reid as High Clown in 2006.
Grandmother Emma Bradford, who was at the legendary Frome event, said: “I’m not good at remembering jokes but there was one about a pasty and another one about a doctor’s waiting room involving a chicken.
“Sweet Christ it was so funny. I can’t even tell you.”