How old are the "oldest jokes in the book" ?

How old…are the following jokes? That is, when where they first published?

Why did the Chicken cross the road?

Where does an 800 pound Gorrilla sleep?

Knock-Knock / Banana Banana Oranage.

Well, the oldest joke book in the English language is usually credited to Joe Miller’s Jests (1739). So that’s the oldest book of jokes, if not the oldest joke in the book.

Parts of the book of Genesis really crack me up.

So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female… -Genesis 1:26

Not a joke of itself, really, but the setup for every sex joke since then…

Speaking of which: Are there any jokes in the Bible?

Baseball was the first thing on God’s mind. “In the big inning…”

Mark Twain, in Huckleberry Finn, (I think) dusts off what must have been an ancient joke at the time. “Where was Moses when he blew out the candle?”

“In the dark.”

Older thread on chicken joke
And another
And in case you didn’t live on earth and hadn’t already seen this page

Seeing the discussion about jokes in the Bible, I immediately wondered if the Bible contained anything like “a priest, a rabbi and a minister walked into a bar”. This is what I found:

“They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him.” (Mark 11:26)

Since there was a distinct lack of Christian priests and ministers at the time, two other humorous subjects have been substituted: “A priest, a lawyer and a politician walked into the temple…” (Perhaps there was also a lack of bars in Jerusalem, though there certainly wasn’t in most of the Roman Empire.)

The only problem is that this leads to a parable (the Parable of the Tenants). It’s not a joke, and it’s not funny.

I wanted to add a couple Bible jokes, too.
As Cecil writes, the OT often contained a character who was named after something related to his birth- Emmanuel meaning God is With Us, Isaac meaning He Laughs, etc., which is clever if not quite a joke. In the NT Paul makes a play on words in Philemon verse 11 when he refers to a man named Onesimus, meaning ‘useful,’ as being of much use now to both Paul and the man who owned him as a slave. This is a joke!:smiley:
In the OT, in Judges 2 we meet Ehud the judge, a fierce warrior who happens to be left-handed (this is ironic, considering that he is from the tribe of Benjamin, meaning Son of my Right Hand; not quite a joke). He kills king Eglon (his name is Hebrew for fatted calf, which is a joke!) :smiley: by stabbing him with a sword, and when he does it sticks into his fat all the way and gets stuck (visual humor). The king’s servants smell the bowels that have spilt in the king’s room and think that he is having much trouble in the bathroom, and so they come in after a time to help, finding him dead- bathroom joke! :stuck_out_tongue:
There are other great irony stories- Absalom caught by his own source of pride, his beard, in Samuel, Haman being hanged on his own death contraption at the end of Esther, the way terrible things happen happen one after another in the poetic book of Job.
Some of the descriptive stuff in Song of Solomon is pretty tongue-in-cheek.

And God said unto all the animals “Go ye forth and multiply.”
But the serpents did refuse, saying “we’re adders.”

Peter Morris: *And God said unto all the animals “Go ye forth and multiply.”
But the serpents did refuse, saying “we’re adders.” *

No no no, it went like this! When Noah released all the animals from the ark after the flood receded, he told them to be fruitful and multiply. But when he came around later to check up on them, they had all reproduced except the snakes. Noah said “Hey snakes, what seems to be the trouble here? Did I accidentally pick out two guy snakes or what?” And the snakes said, “No no, but could you please cut up that fallen tree trunk for us? That’ll help.” And Noah said “Oooo-kay” and chopped up the tree trunk and went away, and when he came back later there were all these little snakes around. Quoth Noah, “Nice work snakes, but what was the deal with the tree trunk?” And the snakes replied:

“Well, you see, Noah, we’re adders. We need logs to multiply.”


I love that one! Only trouble is, for 95% of the population it would be a whoosh.

BobLibDem: Only trouble is, for 95% of the population it would be a whoosh.

Not here at the Dope though! (I’m almost sure. ;))

Sounds like one of those New Yorker stories by Woody Allen.

“Archaeologists Digging For the Oldest Joke In The Book”

Not to mention tounges in several other places :D.

There is another joke-like part of the Bible that Cecil didn’t mention in his original column.

I’m sorry if I don’t get all of the details right.

There is a guy (Haman), who’s the king’s syncophant, and his enemy is a jew (Mordecai) who sits by the palace every day. Mordecai is the brother of Esther, who is one of the king’s many, many wives.

Some stuff happens that makes Haman hate Mordecai even more. Mostly he refuses to bow down to Haman.

One day Mordecai overhears some of the palace guys plotting to kill the king, and he tells his sister, Esther. The king is pleased with Mordecai, so he asks that syncophantic Haman what he should do to someone that pleased him. Haman thinks that the king is referring to him, and comes up with all sorts of great things that he expects the king to do for him.

The king instead says that Haman should arrange that all of those things are done for Mordecai!


I can’t ever tell this one properly, but it’s funny enough if you look at it right.

Luke 5: 1-7 - These professional fishermen, see, have been having a long, tiring, and useless day. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Okay, wash the nets, call it a day, and try again tomorrow. Blast it all. But probably not in those words.

This schmoe comes out of nowhere - probably some friggin’ carpenter’s kid, from the looks of it. Says he’d like a little breathing room, could you guys push off from shore and let me yell at the crowd a little? …Sure, why not… but come to that, how did he talk us into this, anyhow? We just want to go home.

At last, this guy says, thanks, here’s your payment. Just go out a little further and drop your nets again. …Huh? We just washed those things, for heaven’s sake! And anyhow, what’s this guy supposed to know about fishing!?! We’ve tried all day and the fish are not there! But… but… sure, why not?

Aching in every muscle, they drop the nets one more time. And start to pull them in to finally put an end to this farce. And meet resistance. Huh? Oh, heck (but not in those words), the nets are caught on something.

No. It can’t be. But it is. The nets are caught on the fish that were not there. An entire lake for them to swim around in, and the fish have been waiting around in this one spot - not noticably different than other parts of the lake - for… what?

The lesson of this story is that miracles are perhaps not very easy to deal with, in person.

I remember my Pastor saying that Jesus supposedly had the Prodigal Son living with pigs after he left home because he knew it would just horrify his Jewish audiance. The way he tells it, it does seem like Jesus had his tongue a fair way in! (His cheek, I mean! )

There’s plenty of humour in Aristophanes’ comedies.

In fact, wasn’t he the originator of “Women: can’t live with 'em, can’t live without 'em”? Perhaps that is the oldest surviving joke…