15 Of The Oldest Jokes In Recorded History

Thousands of years of fart jokes, “a dog walks into a bar” jokes, and even “your mom” jokes.
15 Of The Oldest Jokes In Recorded History

Some comedians have some old jokes that they seriously regret, but stand up comedy as we know it is a pretty young art form.

As a species, we’ve been telling fart jokes, sex jokes and even “your mom” jokes for at least 4,000 years and counting.

The world’s oldest joke is a fart joke.

Ancient Sumerians

Jacktandy000/Wikimedia Commons

Makes sense.

The world’s oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC, and shows us all that toilet humor was as popular then as it is today.

A joke from the ancient Sumerians goes:

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

A saucy Egyptian Pharaoh joke.

Westcar Papyrus

PapyrusWestcar/Wikimedia Commons

A 1600 BC joke about a Pharaoh was found in the Ancient Egyptian story book known as the Westcar Papyrus.

“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.”

"A dog walks into a tavern…"

We’ve been doing “A… walks into a bar” jokes for thousands of years.

It's hard to translate, but much smarter people than us are working it out.

A classic bait and switch.

10th Century King

Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

The oldest known British joke dates back to the 10th century:

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

"A key.”

That dry British humor has been around for a while.

A joke about an old married couple from 1100 BC.

“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.’”

“Have you just discovered that after 20 years of marriage?’”

Look, every 3122 year old joke isn’t gonna be a banger.

A medieval Latin fart joke… of course.

Poggio Bracciolini

William Sheperd/Wikimedia Commons

The medieval Latin joke book, Facetiae was written by Poggio Bracciolini, published in 1470, and includes six tales about farting.

“The wife, observing a ram copulating with a sheep, asks how the ram chooses his mate, to which the husband answers that the ram chooses the sheep that farts. He confirms to her that humans work the same way, after which she farts, and they have sex; she farts again, with the same result. When she farts a third time, the husband says, "I'm not making love to you again, even if you shit out your soul.”

A classic rule of three.

A classic pun.

The Cyclops

Columbia Pictures/Wikimedia Commons

In Homer's "The Odyssey" (written 2,800 years ago), Odysseus gets a little silly.

“Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his real name is ‘Nobody’. When Odysseus tells his men to attack the Cyclops, the Cyclops shouts: ‘Help, nobody is attacking me!’

No one comes to help him.

Dark humor from the 4th Century.

“Consulting a hotheaded doctor, a fellow says, 'Professor, I'm unable to lie down or stand up; I can't even sit down.' The doctor responds, ‘I guess the only thing left is to hang yourself.’"

So much for bedside manner.

A “classical” fart joke.

Ancient Rome

Mach/Wikimedia Commons

In “the classical times” between 8th century BC and 6th century AD, Roman philosopher Seneca wrote this about the late Emperor:

“At once he bubbled up the ghost, and there was an end to that shadow of a life…The last words he was heard to speak in this world were these. When he had made a great noise with that end of him which talked easiest, he cried out, ‘Oh dear, oh dear! I think I have made a mess of myself.’”

This ancient "your mom" joke was a pretty sweet burn.

Roman Emperor

Étienne-Jean Delécluze/Wikimedia Commons

From ancient Rome, between 63 BC to 14 AD:

Emperor Augustus was touring the Empire, when he noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to himself. Curious, he asked, 'Was your mother at one time in service at the Palace?'”

The man responded, "No, your Highness, but my father was."

Oh snap! Was this hilarious dude executed minutes later?!

A sassy reply from a King.

Barber's chair



From ancient Greece between 300-400 AD:

"Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the King replied, ‘In silence.’”

They didn’t like chatty barbers back then either!

An ancient Greek play on words.

"An intellectual came to check in on a friend who was seriously ill. When the man's wife said that he had 'departed,' the intellectual replied, 'When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?’"

No… She meant “departed” like Martin Scorsese meant it.

A Shakespearean fart joke.

William Shakespeare


Not an “ancient joke” but we like to point out that Shakespeare’s plays had several fart jokes. Here’s one from Othello in 1603.

CLOWN: Are these, I pray you, wind instruments?
MUSICIAN: Ay marry are they, sir.
CLOWN: O, thereby hangs a tail.
MUSICIAN: Whereby hangs a tail, sir?
CLOWN: Marry, sir, by many a wind instrument that I know

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Top Image: Étienne-Jean Delécluze/Wikimedia Commons


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