The oldest joke in the book - really!
July 16, 2008 9:18 AM Subscribe
posted by blahblahblah (70 comments total)
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Humor goes back a long way. The oldest recorded joke in the world
was told 4,600 years ago to Pharoh Snefru by the magician Djadjamankh: "How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish," and there's lots more ancient Egyptian humor (some quite dirty) as well
. Humor really got rolling with the Greeks, however, and the Philogelos (Laughter Lover) a joke book from the 4th century
. A representative joke: “An intellectual was on a sea voyage when a big storm blew up, causing his slaves to weep in terror. ‘Don’t cry,’ he consoled them, ‘I have freed you all in my will'."
In addition to jokes about intellectuals, ethnic stereotypes
were popular, but to see the full range of ancient humor, this collection of over 100 ancient jokes from various sources
(with explanation and original text) is available, though only in PDF. But be warned that if you travel back to ancient Rome, your Henny Youngman joke
could result in severe punishment.
Compared to the documents of Egypt, Rome, and Greece, the lack of the humor in the Bible and Koran has been noted
, though some people that there are actually some intentional jokes
See also this lovely article from the New Yorker
on the history of jokes, from this post