A funny thing happened to researchers on their way to the Roman forum, they found a 1700-Year-Old Rome joke book. While found in Roman, Philogelos (or Laughter Lover) is written in greek and contains 265 jokes. The greatest academic contribution is final proof that there has not been a new joke told in two centuries.
The book dates back to the third century and includes such standards as ‘the absentminded professor’ and ‘the charlatan prophet’.
One joke from 248AD is an athlete who is upset about losing a contest in the “Millennium Games.” A spectator assures the athlete: “Never mind, You can always try again at the next Millennium Games.”
In one joke that is still being told in countless different variations: a patient tells a doctor “whenever I get up after a sleep, I feel dizzy for half an hour, then I’m all right.” The doctor replies” ‘Then wait half an hour before getting up.'”
Then there are those ageless dead slave jokes: “A man buys a slave, who dies soon after. When he complains, the slave seller replies, “Well, he didn’t die when I owned him.”
Of course, some comedians continue to defend their original material with violence if necessary. Comedian Lee Hurst was recently charged with smashing a cellphone over concern that people were stealing his jokes, here. He told the court “This happens from time to time and there is nothing that you can do about it. Even if it’s just for their own personal use, they could lend it to a friend or have it stolen and it could end up on YouTube. I’m talking on behalf of comedians in general.”
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