The World's Oldest Documented Joke

AJ Jacobs, an American journalist and author, recently looked into the world’s oldest joke. His research surfaced a written joke from Bronze Age Sumeria, circa 1900 B.C..  

Here’s the joke:
What has never happened since time immemoriam?
A young wife has not farted on her husband's lap.

A fart joke; I should have guessed. From his research, it seems lowbrow jokes are the only ones that were written down and preserved.

To find out if ancient Greek jokes are funny to a modern audience he even had Jim Gaffigan put them to the test on stage at Gotham Theatre. I bet you can’t guess how that turned out. Check out the full piece on NPR right here.

It makes me wonder what jokes from the modern age will hold up or still do hold up with audiences. And what does that say about our shifting values? I can imagine a study where we curate a series of top rated comedian’s jokes about a set of social issues and then study whether and how much our values have shifted over the last few decades.

Laura AllcornComment