Saturday, March 26, 2011

And They Thought I Was an Old Joke!

     If you have kids, you know they take some kind of perverted pleasure in letting you know in no uncertain terms that you're square, you're out of it, you're about the lamest excuse for a human being that ever lived.

     Honestly, I remember when I was a teenager and in my 20s, I pretty much thought the same thing about my parents. The difference is:  I was right -- my parents were pretty lame. But my kids are all wrong -- their parents are pretty cool.

     I've pointed out this discrepancy to my kids several times -- about how my parents were square as a checkerboard, but even though they don't always appreciate it, their parents are pretty cool. They know I'm saying this kind of tongue-in-cheek, that I'm trying to be humorous, but they're not buying it. And they typically convey their sentiment with a few eye rolls, a big sigh or two, and then some kind of snicker. They just want to make it clear -- they're laughing at me, not with me.

     Well, I know an old joke when I see it. And it's not me. I ran across a couple of articles recently reporting on the discovery of the world's oldest joke. (Apparently there was a study done a couple of years ago in England, and it's just now being reported in the U.S.) Anyway, hold on to your horses ... the world's oldest joke is a Sumerian fart joke, dating to approximately 2000 BC. I'm not going to tell the joke here, because it's kind of tasteless and not particularly funny.

     Is it any surprise that the oldest humor leans toward the crude side? Here are a couple of examples. The first one comes from Egypt, dating back to circa 1600 BC:  "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."

     Then there's the old British joke, popular in the 10th century: "What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole that it's often poked before? Answer: A key."

     How about one from the Roman Empire: "Augustus was touring his Empire and noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to himself. Intrigued he asked: 'Was your mother at one time in service at the Palace?' 'No your Highness,' he replied, 'but my father was.'" 

     If you really want to read the Sumerian fart joke, or some other ancient thigh-slappers, go to England's Daily Mail online. And taste thee of a boisterous and jesting gamenian.


Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

"...'but my father was.'"

I actually think that was a pretty good come-back. >,-)

June said...

Fart jokes do translate well.
Perhaps that's the explanation for the longevity of the Sumerian one.

Anonymous said...

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