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.

"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 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 “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 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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