Not sure whether to be horrified or tickled at this new study. It seems the oldest jokes that scientists have been able to find are about farting and sex.
I have been surprised by one thing I've noticed since we opened the store. One of our most popular toys is a stuffed "Walter the Farting Dog" (from the childrens' book series) that farts loudly when you squeeze it. What's odd is the demographic that is obsessed with this toy: middle aged men. I assumed it would be kids. (I do have to add that I grew up around all women and that the peculiarities of men are still new to me!) Men will carry Walter around the shop, showing off to their friends and chuckling.
World's oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC
LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The world's oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today.
It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq and goes: "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap."
It heads the world's oldest top 10 joke list published by the University of Wolverhampton on Thursday.
A 1600 BC gag about a pharaoh, said to be King Snofru, comes second -- "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."
The oldest British joke dates back to the 10th Century and reveals the bawdy face of the Anglo-Saxons -- "What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole that it's often poked before? Answer: A key."
"Jokes have varied over the years, with some taking the question and answer format while others are witty proverbs or riddles," said the report's writer Dr Paul McDonald, senior lecturer at the university.
"What they all share however, is a willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion. Modern puns, Essex girl jokes and toilet humor can all be traced back to the very earliest jokes identified in this research."
The study was commissioned by television channel Dave. The top 10 oldest jokes can be viewed at www.dave-tv.co.uk.
(Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Steve Addison)
The world's ten oldest jokes
The Dave Historical Humour study spent two months trawling the annals of history to produce the first report of its kind into the world's oldest recorded jokes. We reveal the results:
1. Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap (1900 BC – 1600 BC Sumerian Proverb Collection 1.12-1.13)
2. 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 (An abridged version first found in 1600 BC on the Westcar Papryus)
3. Three ox drivers from Adab were thirsty: one owned the ox, the other owned the cow and the other owned the wagon's load. The owner of the ox refused to get water because he feared his ox would be eaten by a lion; the owner of the cow refused because he thought his cow might wander off into the desert; the owner of the wagon refused because he feared his load would be stolen. So they all went. In their absence the ox made love to the cow which gave birth to a calf which ate the wagon's load. Problem: Who owns the calf?! (1200 BC)
4. A woman who was blind in one eye has been married to a man for 20 years. When he found another woman he said to her, "I shall divorce you because you are said to be blind in one eye." And she answered him: "Have you just discovered that after 20 years of marriage!?" (Egyptian circa 1100 BC)
5. Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his real name is nobody. When Odysseus instructs his men to attack the Cyclops, the Cyclops shouts: "Help, nobody is attacking me!" No one comes to help. (Homer. The Odyssey 800 BC)
6. Question: What animal walks on four feet in the morning, two at noon and three at evening? Answer: Man. He goes on all fours as a baby, on two feet as a man and uses a cane in old age (Appears in Oedipus Tyrannus and first performed in 429 BC)
7. Man is even more eager to copulate than a donkey - his purse is what restrains him (Egyptian, Ptolemaic Period 304 BC – 30 BC)
8. 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." (Credited to the Emporer Augustus 63 BC – 29 AD)
9. Wishing to teach his donkey not to eat, a pedant did not offer him any food. When the donkey died of hunger, he said "I've had a great loss. Just when he had learned not to eat, he died." (Dated to the Philogelos 4th /5th Century AD)
10. Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: "In silence." (Collected in the Philogelos or "Laughter-Lover" the oldest extant jest book and compiled in the 4th/5th Century AD)