Pull my finger.
December 15, 2011 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Fart jokes! Everybody loves them! And everybody knows a couple of good ones. But did you know that they date back to the 5th century BC, and appear prominently in two plays by Aristophanes, "The Knights" and "The Clouds"?

Farts previously on the blue and on the green. And yes, they are universally funny.
posted by jbickers (44 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Man I had no idea Aristophanes made fun of Socrates through fart jokes. Does anyone know the line in "The Clouds" where this happens?
posted by Hoopo at 9:55 AM on December 15, 2011

Louis CK did a bit about why fart jokes are funny on Jon Stewart, I think, but I'll leave it for someone else to find because I'm in Canada and you have better access to the Daily Show clips down south.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:57 AM on December 15, 2011

From "The Knights":

No sooner had I ended this prayer than a pederast farted on my right.
"Hah! a good omen," said I, and prostrated myself; then I burst open
the door by a vigorous push with my arse, and, opening my mouth to
the utmost, shouted, "Senators, I wanted you to be the first to hear
the good news; since the war broke out, I have never seen anchovies
at a lower price!"

This is exactly how I picture our Congress.
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Not exactly a joke, but the early sections of Isaiah predate Aristophenes by about three hundred years, and includes this flatuent prophecy in chapter 26:

LORD, they came to you in their distress;
when you disciplined them,
they could barely whisper a prayer.
As a pregnant woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pain,
so were we in your presence, LORD.
We were with child, we writhed in labor,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have not brought salvation to the earth,
and the people of the world have not come to life.

"Lord, we were in your presence and we thought that our devotion was going to bring something new and wonderful into the world--we felt like a pregnant woman about to give birth! But the only thing that came out was a big, windy fart. No one was rescued and the dead are still dead. And stinky."

I've never heard this text preached.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:02 AM on December 15, 2011 [26 favorites]


SOCRATES Have you not understood me then? I tell you, that the Clouds,
when full of rain, bump against one another, and that, being inordinately
swollen out, they burst with a great noise.

STREPSIADES How can you make me credit that?

SOCRATES Take yourself as an example. When you have heartily gorged
on stew at the Panathenaea, you get throes of stomach-ache and then
suddenly your belly resounds with prolonged rumbling.

STREPSIADES Yes, yes, by Apollo I suffer, I get colic, then the stew
sets to rumbling like thunder and finally bursts forth with a terrific
noise. At first, it's but a little gurgling pappax, pappax! then it
increases, papapappax! and when I take my crap, why, it's thunder
indeed, papapappax! pappax!! papapappax!!! just like the clouds.

SOCRATES Well then, reflect what a noise is produced by your belly,
which is but small. Shall not the air, which is boundless, produce
these mighty claps of thunder?

STREPSIADES And this is why the names are so much alike: crap and

posted by jbickers at 10:02 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Farts previously on the blue and on the green.

Why no link to the grey? Halp halp I'm being oppressed!
posted by nathancaswell at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2011

[a few comments removed, please stick to fart jokes]
posted by knave at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2011 [46 favorites]

aristophanes is the shit and greek plays look a lot more like modern "postmodern" stuff than the boring-ass translations and weird cultural baggage around them allow. the wasps also has a dream sequence!

in college some classmates and myself adapted it into the absolutely topical Votin' Fever! which was naturally one of the greatest achievements of classical play adaptation of our time
posted by beefetish at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Does anyone know the line in "The Clouds" where this happens?
It's the slightly brownish one.
posted by hat_eater at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2011

Why no link to the grey? Halp halp I'm being oppressed!

SILENCED (but deadly) ALL MY LIFE.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Fart jokes date back a lot earlier than the 5th century BC. They were amusing ancient sumarians in 1900 BC

My first metafilter post after lurking for many yearsand it was about farting...
posted by Tyche at 10:15 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mozart's work regularly included fart jokes. Magic Flute, indeed.

Here's Louis C.K. explaining fart jokes to Jon Stewart.
posted by Gilbert at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2011

Everyone?!?! I don't love fart jokes in certain contexts, as I thought I made clear in that other thread. ;)

One of the most gobsmacking things I've ever observed on American television was a bowdlerized prime-time network broadcast of Blazing Saddles. It was three minutes long. Just kidding. Actually they overdubbed dialogue in a completely bizarre way to try and conceal the naughty words. Except for the campfire scene. You all know the campfire scene, right? Well, they didn't cut the scene; they simply silenced all the belching and grunting and farting. So it was just a minute of a bunch of guys silently sitting around a campfire. I honestly couldn't believe it.
posted by zomg at 10:18 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just beat me to it, pracowity!
posted by Gilbert at 10:18 AM on December 15, 2011

The master.. The other master.
posted by unSane at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2011

posted by Mcable at 10:19 AM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

Speaking of Blazing Saddles, Gov. William J. Le Petomane was named after this gentleman who:

Some of the highlights of his stage act involved sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing "'O Sole Mio" and "La Marseillaise" on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus.[2] He could also blow out a candle from several yards away.[1] His audience included Edward, Prince of Wales, King Leopold II of the Belgians and Sigmund Freud.[3]
posted by griphus at 10:25 AM on December 15, 2011

Fun fart fact:

The English word "poop" apparently only came to mean defecate some time in in the last hundred, hundred-and-fifty years; before that, for several hundred years at least, it's primary attested meaning as a verb form was to fart, to break wind.

Further fun poop facts:

Before poop meant fart, it meant "to produce a short blast of sound, as with a horn; to blow, toot; to make a gulping sound in drinking", which goes back in the OED as far as these citation from Chaucer:
Of bras they broghten bemes, and of box, Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped

Whan he hadde pouped [v.r. poped] in this horn, To the manciple he took the gourde agayn.
So Chaucer for once was not being a dirty as maybe it seems, and there was no actual pooping in of (or apparently even farting in of) horns in the Nun's Priest's Tale or the Manciple's Tale.

And after poop started mostly meaning farting instead of shitting, it apparently in the early 20th century also started meaning "firing", as in a gun, which leads to some really hilarious out of context citations:
As soon as the artillery opens up, poop off for all you're worth. Let 'em have a hurricane.

I arrived about eight last night and the guns were pooping away like mad.

See to it you don't open up on anything unless you've a damn good chance of hitting. No wild pooping off at targets out of range—understand?

Take getting up in the morning. ‘I arise,’ he says‥‘and poop along‥to the end of the passage‥to get in the milk and the papers.’

I shall continue to poop off heavy stuff at you, till you get my range at Scarborough, and so silence me.

At any rate he pooped the ball into the [tennis] net.
In less exciting news, "fart" has meant fart for basically ever. When Chaucer talked about farting, that's what he actually meant.
posted by cortex at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2011 [12 favorites]

Also a prominent theme in Japanese literature and art.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2011

PHILLIP: "Uhh, oh Terrance, what colour is the wind?"
TERRANCE: "Hmmm, I don't know, why don't you check?"
posted by the painkiller at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Actually, I think this is probably the oldest fart joke preserved from ancient Greece (Homeric Hymn to Hermes lines 293-98):

So saying, Phoebus Apollo picked the child up and began to carry him. At this point, the powerful killer of Argus had a plan. Held aloft in Apollo's hands, he cut loose an omen, an exhausted belly slave, a rude herald of worse to come. At the same time he sneezed and Apollo, hearing all this, dropped him on the ground.
posted by zeugitai_guy at 10:40 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh man, the snart (or feeze). Those'll get ya every time.
posted by scruss at 10:43 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

When Chaucer talked about farting, that's what he actually meant.

Clearly, someone's never been an English Major.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pull my finger.
posted by homunculus at 10:58 AM on December 15, 2011

At Heathrow Airport in England, a 300-foot red carpet was stretched out to Air Force One and President Bush strode to a warm but dignified handshake from Queen Elizabeth II. They rode in a silver 1934 Bentley to the edge of central London where they boarded an open 17th century coach hitched to six magnificent white horses. As they rode toward Buckingham Palace, each looking to their side and waving to the thousands of cheering Britons lining the streets, all was going well. This was indeed a glorious display of pageantry and dignity. Suddenly the scene was shattered when the right rear horse let rip the most horrendous, earth-shattering, eye-smarting blast of flatulence, and the coach immediately filled with noxious fumes.

Uncomfortable, but maintaining control, the two dignitaries did their best to ignore the whole incident, but then the Queen decided that was a ridiculous manner with which to handle a most embarrassing situation. She turned to Mr. Bush and explained, "Mr. President, please accept my regrets. I'm sure you understand that there are some things even a Queen cannot control."

George W., ever the Texas gentleman, replied, "Your Majesty, please don't give the matter another thought. You know, if you hadn't said something I would have assumed it was one of the horses."
posted by 4ster at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2011 [10 favorites]

This is childish. Let's all watch some Ingmar Bergman instead.
posted by pracowity at 11:29 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Canto XXI in Dante's Inferno has Virgil and Dante cowering in fear from a truly badass gang of terrifying winged demons who throw sinners (politicians) into a black pitch where they're boiled and tormented, but Virgil, who is guiding Dante, goes up to them and they're all like "What the hell? What's a living man (Dante) doing down here? You outta your skulls or what? We're going to teach him a lesson, and they're licking their lips and all excited about torturing Dante and one of them suggest they stab Dante’s butt with a pitchfork. Everyone else gives a great hurrah, but Malacoda (evil-tail) stops the party with a sharp order to the offender, Scarmiglione.

He tells Virgil they can't keep going the way they're going because a bridge is out, (Virgil has already shown them his decree "will of God" proclamation so they don't hurt Dante), but that he'll have the demons provide an escort to the passageway to the lower circles of hell:
Near is another crag that yields a path.
Yesterday, five hours later than this hour,
One thousand and two hundred sixty-six
Years were complete, that here the way was broken.
I send in that direction some of mine
To see if any one doth air himself;
Go ye with them; for they will not be vicious.
Step forward, Alichino and Calcabrina,"
Began he to cry out, "and thou, Cagnazzo;
And Barbariccia, do thou guide the ten.
Come forward, Libicocco and Draghignazzo,
And tusked Ciriatto and Graffiacane,
And Farfarello and mad Rubicante;
Search ye all round about the boiling pitch;
Let these be safe as far as the next crag,
That all unbroken passes o'er the dens."
"O me! what is it, Master, that I see?
Pray let us go," I said, "without an escort,
If thou knowest how, since for myself I ask none.
If thou art as observant as thy wont is,
Dost thou not see that they do gnash their teeth,
And with their brows are threatening woe to us?"
And he to me: "I will not have thee fear;
Let them gnash on, according to their fancy,
Because they do it for those boiling wretches."
Along the left-hand dike they wheeled about;
But first had each one thrust his tongue between
His teeth towards their leader for a signal;
And he had made a trumpet of his rump.

Canto XXII

I have erewhile seen horsemen moving camp,
Begin the storming, and their muster make,
And sometimes starting off for their escape;
Vaunt-couriers have I seen upon your land,
O Aretines, and foragers go forth,
Tournaments stricken, and the joustings run,
Sometimes with trumpets and sometimes with bells,
With kettle-drums, and signals of the castles,
And with our own, and with outlandish things,
But never yet with bagpipe so uncouth
Did I see horsemen move, nor infantry,
Nor ship by any sign of land or star.
We went upon our way with the ten demons;
posted by Skygazer at 11:40 AM on December 15, 2011

Fart jokes ! Everybody loves them!

I hate fart jokes almost as much as I hate people who fart in public. Fart jokes ar puerile - which by itself is not necessarily a bad thing - but additionally they're obvious, superficial and moronic. The combination of these four traits is, for me, irredeemable.
posted by Decani at 12:13 PM on December 15, 2011

That said, the out-takes of Sellers et al in the lift are priceless.

Oh, what the hell. No more curried eggs for me!
posted by Decani at 12:18 PM on December 15, 2011

Yeah, Decani, every party needs a pooper.
posted by spicynuts at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

But did you know that they date back to the 5th century BC

Let me just clear the air here, seeing as even proto-Mayan has a single-sylable, onomatopoeic glyph (tis) dating back perhaps to the second millenia BC, I'm quite sure they were plenty of fart jokes well before the 5th century BC.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fart jokes ar puerile - which by itself is not necessarily a bad thing - but additionally they're obvious, superficial and moronic.

Counterpoint: pbfpbfpbfpbfpbfpbfffffff!
posted by Hoopo at 1:29 PM on December 15, 2011

Let me just clear the air here...

Have we all gotten it out of our system now?
posted by griphus at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2011

Time for a few George Carlin Fart Jokes. Farts are shit without the mess!
posted by not_on_display at 1:36 PM on December 15, 2011

I never found fart or toilet humor funny either, even when I was a little kid. I have no rationale other than...it doesn't amuse me. I just don't see the haha part of it.
posted by WhitenoisE at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2011

I went to a local production of Aristophanes' "The Assemblywomen" and "Lysistrata"
with my parents a while back. My Mom went up to the director afterwards, and told him that, though she enjoyed the production, she wished they had not so over-emphasized the fart gags. He said, basically, "Lady - we toned them down significantly from the original plays."
posted by jetsetsc at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I never found fart or toilet humor funny either.

Are you my wife?
posted by Mcable at 4:13 PM on December 15, 2011

Of Chaucer's many fart jokes, perhaps the most inspired is how a fart might be divided equally among a brotherhood of monks, from The Summoner's Tale.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:50 PM on December 15, 2011

[a few comments removed, please stick to fart jokes]

This, THIS! is the definitive moderator response to any situation.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:57 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Commoner in presence of the Queen, inadvertently drops a small fart.

Shocked silence in court, broken only when the Sergeant-at-arms confronts the man:
"How DARE you fart before the Queen!"

Commoner turns to Queen: "Sorry luv, I didn't know it was your turn".
posted by Artful Codger at 7:50 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Without question, my favorite fart joke was delivered care of Old Jews Telling Jokes.
posted by Suddenly, elf ass at 8:25 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is a classic: Maxfield Parrish's Old King Cole mural at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.

Better image here. Look at the faces of the fiddlers and the guards and other servants around Ole King Cole.

Here's the backstory from a NY Times article on it's renovation a few years ago. It's good story. Old King Cole in the mural is based on an Astor who commissioned it.
posted by Skygazer at 9:42 PM on December 15, 2011

Without question, my favorite fart joke was delivered care of Old Jews Telling Jokes.

That's a very old joke. In One Thousand and One Nights, see the story about Abu Hasan's historic fart: A guy farts so embarrassingly that he just packs his bags and moves out of town. After many years, he figures it must be safe to return, so he slips back into town. But listening to a conversation, someone discussing an event in the past describes it in relation to the great fart of the guy who skipped town.
posted by pracowity at 12:08 AM on December 16, 2011

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