All joking apart, Tim Bowen has another set of excellent idioms in this installment of Your English.

‘The situation with people avoiding tax is rapidly getting beyond a joke’. In other words, it is becoming extremely annoying and people are very concerned about it. 

The expression It’s no joke can be used to indicate that something is very difficult or unpleasant, as in ‘It’s no joke finding yourself locked out of your flat in the middle of the night’. 

If you can take a joke, you are the sort of person who is able to laugh when someone makes a joke about you or plays a trick on you, as in ‘I’ll say this about Simon. He can certainly take a joke’. But, if the joke is on you, you were trying to make someone look foolish and you have ended up looking foolish yourself, as in ‘It looks as if the joke is on me after all’. 

The expression All joking aside, or All joking apart, can be used before you say something serious after you have said something that was intended to be funny, as in ‘All joking apart, although he’s brought a lot of this on himself, he’s in really serious trouble right now’. 

A standing joke is something that happens regularly that a particular group of people find funny, as in ‘They always mispronounce his name. It’s a standing joke’. 

If you refer to someone’s idea of a joke, you indicate that they have done something that they think is amusing but you do not, as in ‘I suppose hiding my passport was his idea of a joke’.