9 of the World’s Oldest Jokes and Brainteasers

The oldest joke in recorded history is a fart joke that dates all the way back to 1900 BCE.

A 4000-year-old dog walks into a 4000-year-old bar ... / AevanStock, Master1307, and saoirse2013, via Shutterstock
A 4000-year-old dog walks into a 4000-year-old bar ... / AevanStock, Master1307, and saoirse2013, via Shutterstock /
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Since the humble beginnings of language itself, people have been trying to make others laugh.

In 2008, historians announced that they had identified the oldest recorded joke in history: A Sumerian fart joke dating back to 1900 BCE. 

A joke book from 1739 titled Joe Miller’s Jests promises “most brilliant jests; the politest repartees; the most elegant bon mots, and most pleasant short stories in the English language.”

Puniana, a book of puns published in 1867, contains a plethora of puns that, according to one review, “present the usual anomaly of being good, because they are so bad.”

In the latest episode of The List Show, host and Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy shares 9 jokes and brainteasers from history, including puzzling riddles and puns that transcend time.

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