Did you hear the one about the young comedian who went on to write jokes for some of the biggest names in show business?

John Martin, from Northop, in Flintshire, is a funny man, that's funny ha ha, not funny peculiar.

He's also the Guinness World Record holder for continuous joke telling - 101 hours and 39 minutes - a title he's been undefeated in since 1993.

Having written material for some comedy greats, including Sir Ken Dodd and Jimmy Tarbuck, the 57-year-old has now penned his own life story.

The book's title, "I Want To Be A Comedian, Mr Tarbuck", references a letter a young John wrote to legendary comedian Jimmy Tarbuck asking for advice.

Jimmy kindly rang John up and the pair have remained friends ever since.

In the book, John also talks about his close relationship to the Squire of Knotty Ash himself, Sir Ken Dodd.

He was one of the very few privileged people to get really close to Doddy and even acted as a pallbearer at Ken’s funeral - "a sad but proud honour".

John, originally from Bootle, considered Ken “the greatest stand-up comedian the world has ever seen”.

He said: "No one could touch Doddy. There are those who say funny things, and those who say things funny. Ken did both."

Starting out, John was well-known for being the first comedian to qualify for a £40 a week grant from the Government, back in 1984.

He recalls: "I did a show with Ken and I said to him I was trying to write some jokes, and from then we became great friends."

In the small hours after one gig, Ken gave John a one-on-one about comedy, and how to write and perform a joke.

"It was a masterclass," adds John. "Ken said a comedian shouldn't tell a joke, they should sing it.

"A joke should have the correct rhythm. He explained a joke could have too many words or just not enough.

"He taught me how to find replacement words that were potentially funnier than what you'd written.

"Doddy had this incredible mind, that of a genius, where he could pick out words that were funny for some reason, an unexplained reason."

Having worked his apprenticeship in the smoke-filled social clubs of the 1980s and 1990s, John was now seeing the stars on stage using his material.

He said: "It was great if it worked well but the number of times it didn't, wasn't so great.

"But to see them deliver your joke, and know that these were the king of telling jokes, performing your material, there was nothing better.

"Writing for my heroes was something money can't buy."

It's a buzz that had started early in John's career.

He said: "I started writing jokes in school, and for a radio show, The News Huddlines, with Roy Hudd. You'd listen out every week to hear if your jokes had been included. If you did hear one, it was fantastic."

And what does John, a keen military historian and author of several books on the subject, think of today's generation of comedians?

"There are some great comedians today. Comedy changes all the time, it modernises, it becomes a new generation of comedians and audience.

"On TV and radio there are some wonderful people, brilliantly inventive people.

"But with the younger ones, I think it takes time for audiences to feel comfortable with them."

It's not just the jokes that makes a comedian a success.

John, whose time in the industry has included headline stints on cruise ships, also has advice for those in the audience: "When the audience doesn't react, it's awful! Show us you're enjoying yourself. Smiles are no good, we want laughs.

"Let yourself go, even better if you scream. Let your hair down."

"I Want To Be A Comedian, Mr Tarbuck", by John Martin, is available at most book retailers.