A JOKE book filled with more than 150 gags that have tickled audiences across the region over a 25 year career has been stolen from a comedian's car - and he's not laughing.

Expensive equipment vital to his routine was nabbed from the boot of Freddie Waters’ Mercedes Benz including an amp and microphone.

Other precious possessions which vanished included an Elvis wig and a pair of black patent size seven shoes.

The 68-year-old entertainer has been forced to cancel gigs around the Tees Valley scheduled this week following the theft in the early hours of Monday morning.

“I was feeling really angry, I was right down, but I’m feeling more upbeat down as people have come forward wanting to help me get everything back,” he said.

In what could be described as a cruel joke, when the locks on Mr Waters' car broke he spent the night at a friend’s house on Baysdale Close, Guisborough, after being assured it was a ‘safe area’.

However, next morning he discovered to his horror that the unlocked boot was open and his valuable belongings gone.

Stolen items included a Carlsbro Powered Mixer amp, in a rare gun metal blue colour which was stored in a three-foot brown Krups case, a boxed Shure radio microphone, a silver Sony minidisc player inside a silver case with five or six minidiscs.

Mr Waters said it would take a long time to reproduce the backing tracks he has created for his shows but could remember many of the oneliners in his unique book of handwritten funnies.

The late comedian Bob Monkhouse had his joke book described as his ‘life’s work’ stolen in 1995, but it was eventually returned more than a year later after a hefty ransom was paid.

Mr Waters, from Marton, Middlesbrough, said he would offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible, but hopes his equipment - including his 'valuable' joke book will be returned.

“I can still play the care homes with my spare amp, where I’m very popular as my jokes are clean, but I couldn’t play bigger venues like Harrowgate Hill Club in Darlington."

The former sergeant in the Royal Corps Signals who was British schoolboy boxing champion aged 13 and named British Army boxing champion at 21, said: “If I’d caught whoever did this, even though I’m 68, I could have done something.”

Anyone who may have information regarding the theft or anyone who may have been offered the items for sale is asked to contact PC Danielle Dixon from Cleveland Police on the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555 111.

Freddie's top jokes

When caught driving on the pavement, the police officer said to me “Why are you driving on the pavement?” and I said: “Because I haven’t got any road tax.”

I was pulled over by a policeman who told me I was speeding. He said: “You were driving at 80mph.” I said “That’s impossible, I only left home 10 minutes ago.”

A policeman stopped me for my back tail light not working, he leaned in the car and said “Your brake light isn’t working.” “Yes it is,” I said. “It isn’t,” he said. “Yes it is,” I said. My passenger said “You do not want to argue with him when he’s had a good drink.”

A policeman stopped me on a motorway and said: “You were doing 90mph.” I said: “No I was not, I was doing 70.” “Yes you were,” he said. “You cannot talk, you overtook me,” I replied.

My wife always wanted to get married in a castle. So I booked the castle and you should have seen how red her face was after we had been bouncing around for half an hour.