World’s Oldest Jokes: Farting, Fishing, and Thigh-High Poking

Think that guy at the corner cubicle’s telling the oldest jokes in the world? Think again.

A new list from the UK’s University of Wolverhampton dug up the oldest recorded jokes known to mankind. The rustiest one in the collection is a proverb from the Sumerians in 1900 BC:

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

Hmm. So the humor itself has clearly evolved over time, but at least the subject matter is constant.

The next oldest one, from 1600 BC, is also a killer:

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 UK, at least, has a decent one in its history books. The oldest recorded British humor comes from the 10th century AD:

What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? A key.

We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.