These Hilarious Classic Jokes Originated In The Strangest Places

We all love a good laugh. Whether it’s a chuckle while watching your favorite sitcom, or a guffaw after your partner tells a silly joke, laughter often really is the best medicine. But do you ever find yourself wondering where the most famous ones come from? As in, who came up with the first “Doctor, doctor” or “Knock, knock” gag, and what inspired their creation? Well, wonder no more, dear reader!

1. The world’s oldest joke

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

In 2008 the University of Wolverhampton’s Dr. Paul McDonald conducted a study to find the oldest joke in recorded history. He found it in Ancient Sumeria, in the year 1900 B.C. — and it was a fart joke! To be honest, this actually fills us with joy, because it’s heartening to know that human beings have always been immature and always found bodily functions funny!

2. The first “guy walks into a bar” joke

“A dog, having entered an inn, did not see anything — and so he said 'Shall I open this [door]?’”


“A dog entered into a tavern and said, ‘I cannot see anything. I shall open this,’ or ‘this one.’”

The Ancient Sumerians were also responsible for the world’s first “guy walks into a bar” joke — only their version involved a dog! There’s been some debate over exactly how to translate the gag, which was etched on a couple of tablets way back in 1700 B.C. The first version is from Edmund I. Gordon in 1958; the second came from Seraina Nett in 2022. To be honest, we’d argue the joke is painfully unfunny either way!

3. Jokes about marriage go way back

“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.’ And she answered him, ‘Have you just discovered that after 20 years of marriage?’”

How many jokes have their basis in the various foibles and indignities of marriage? The answer — a ton. Hell, we’d imagine most comedians have at least one hilariously relatable wife or husband bit in every set. This is the first marriage joke — from 1,100 B.C. — and, while it could use some work, it’s pretty on the money about just how little attention husbands often pay to their wives!

4. A delicious pun from 800 B.C.

“Odysseus tells the Cyclops that his real name is ‘nobody.’ When Odysseus instructs his men to attack the Cyclops, the Cyclops shouts, ‘Help, nobody is attacking me!’ No one comes to help.”

About 2,800 years ago, Homer wrote his epic poem The Odyssey. Far from being an impenetrable piece of Ancient Greek storytelling that feels totally foreign to modern audiences, the poem is still read and enjoyed today. Maybe that’s because it includes flashes of humor, such as this delicious trick Odysseus plays on the villainous Cyclops. Get it? Nobody! Wordplay, man. It still gets us.