Why did the chicken cross the road?

The presence of humor can be traced back to thousands, or possibly millions of years. Even though humor and laughter are related, they are not synonymous. Therefore, humor is a cognitive process, which (not always) leads to laughter, whereas laughter is an activity that is experienced through a humorous stimulus [1]. Thus, in this article, I would like to share the history of humor and share a few laughter-stimulating jokes.

Tim Hüfner – Unsplash

Throughout the years, many attempts were made to understand the nature of humor, however not a single theory provided desired results, thus did not gain a universal acceptance. According to these theories, it was observed that three main topics were incorporated in all humor theories: a) humor reflects not so commonly accepted concepts, b) oppressed sexual and/or aggressive feelings, c) social status, reflecting a superiority [1].

A while before, researchers in the University of Wolverhampton, surfaced some of the oldest jokes, some of them are as follows:

At the Barber’s (Greece, 4th – 5th century AD, Philogelos) [2]

“Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: In silence.”

Teaching an Old Donkey New Tricks (Greece, 4th– 5th AD, Philogelos) [2]

“Wishing to teach his donkey not to eat, a pedant did not offer him any food. When the donkey died of hunger, he said: I have had a great loss, just when he had learned not to eat, he died.”

Augustus’ Resemblance (Ancient Rome, 63 BC – 29 AD, Emperor Augustus) [2]

Tim Hüfner – Unsplash

“Augustus was touring his Empire and noticed a man in the crowd who bore a striking resemblance to himself. Intrigued he asked: Was your mother at one time in service at the Palace? No,your Highness, he replied: but my father was.”

How Odysseus Defeated Cyclops (Ancient Greece, 800 BC, Homer’s The Odyssey) [2]

“Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his real name is nobody. When Odysseus instructs his men to attack the Cyclops, the Cyclops should: Help, nobody is attacking me! Thus, no one comes to help.”

The Three Ox Drivers (likely Mesopotamia, 1200 BC, Unknown) [2]

“The ox drivers from Adab were thirsty: one owned the ox, the other owned the cow, and the other owned the wagon’s load. The owner of the ox refused to get water because he feared his ox would be eaten by a lion; the owner of the cow refused because he thought his cow might wander off into the desert; the owner of the wagon refused because he feared his load would be stolen. So, they all went. In their absence, the ox made love to the cow which gave birth to a calf that ate the wagon’s load. Problem: Who owns the calf?”

Humor acts as a bridge in connecting people and enables us to endure the harsh times. Are there any interesting jokes that you might know? Maybe it would be a good idea to brighten up the day of the people around you with a joke. Remember, laughter a day, keeps the sadness away.

Dzaner Shengjuler

[1] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147470490600400129
[2] https://www.oldest.org/entertainment/jokes/

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