World’s Oldest Jokes Depressingly Bad

by Liz Colville

The Independent, in pursuit of the sad feelings British people will get when they read aloud the jokes from their Christmas crackers this Saturday, decided to educate us on the oldest jokes in the world, despite and/or because of the fact that they are so dreadfully bad. “Most old jokes, particularly ancient jokes, aren’t that funny,” says Paul McDonald, FYI, and this turns out to be very true! Here are a few:

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

Answer: A key.

LOL I thought it was going to be something else.

As a bonus, McDonald’s explanations of just how and why these things aren’t funny are pretty great. Regarding the above: “While we recognise its double entendre as typically British, it’s not exactly side-splitting.” You know, he’s right.

Here’s another:

A fool broke wind while in bed with a deaf person. When the latter caught the smell and began to complain, the fool said: “Come on, how could you hear it if you’re supposed to be deaf?”

My lord.

Vis à vis that, McDonald says, “Some topics lend themselves to joking.” Again, right. Brilliant man.

How about…?

“What did the chicken say to the duck?”

“For pity’s sake, don’t cross the road or you’ll never hear the last of it.”

Ahhh I don’t get it! “This is a meta-joke,” McDonald chimes in, saving me from embarrassment, “or a joke about jokes, which, like all such jokes, depends on our knowledge of a particular joke form, and our awareness of its exhausted, clichéd status.”

THANK YOU, KIND SIR. A joke is like a funny joke that, if you’re in the mood for a joke, will feel like a joke, as in something jokey you will tell to others to make them laugh, which is the typical response to a joke, when you yourself are in a joking mood, that is to say, when you are feeling like a joker or jokester, which are the two types of people who tell jokes.