What is the world's oldest joke?

  • What is the world's oldest joke? I mean the earliest known story, set of affairs, or action that people spread to other people in order to cause the receivers to be amused.

  • According to Paul McDonald at the University of Wolverhampton, it's this 3900-year-old one, from 1900BC in Sumeria:

    Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.

    (I don't get it either!)

    Hey, it's a fart joke! :-)

    Maybe it's a pun that has been lost in translation :)

    I love how humans were so similar back then. Almost 4000 years later and we still find fart jokes funny.

    Can we get a Sumerian to chime in here? I'm curious what this farting nonsense means

    I'm wondering if the joke was reconstructed using the comparative method, by comparing thousands of modern fart jokes and tracing them back to a common ancestor.

    I think it plays on the same notion still around today...that women are too refined and cultured to fart, that's just something crude men do. Of course women do it too, but the joke is that they just never do it around men.

    @Pyritie It's impressive how similar Pompeii bathroom graffiti is to modern-day

    I think the joke is about the difference between girlfriends and wives. When you're courting, the girl will try to make the best impression. Once you're married, the wife doesn't have to pretend any more. It's kind of the opposite of the meme @1006a suggests.

    Not sure if this is how others are reading it, but I interpret this as "of course every young woman has farted in her husband's lap—we just pretend they don't". That's the joke.

    The joke makes sense. It's actually a double joke with sarcasm/cynicism in it, making it a rather advanced joke, imo. A modern example: "Never before seen headline: Donald Trump handled the visit with diplomatic expertise." The joke has two layers: (1) we are silly for making a headline of someone doing their job as expected (2) but secretly we all know that he's unable of doing his job as expected. Similarly: (1) we are silly for being amazed at women respecting etiquette (not farting) (2) but secretly we all know that women don't respect etiquette and _do_ fart. It's an in-joke between men.

    I recall one from a book my dad was reading on the history of humour, I think it was early Roman and went something like: "The emperor was touring the provinces when he saw a peasant who looked just like him. He had the man brought before him and demanded 'did your mother ever travel to Rome?' to which the peasant replied 'No my lord, but my father went there often'". While it's probably later than the answer here, it is at least funny... : )

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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