If you thought that comedians today are masters at creating jokes and pick up lines and never borrow material, you’re wrong. By putting some of the most hilarious jokes under the microscope and look deeper into their construction, we can most certainly trace them back hundreds of years. The times may be changing at the speed of the light, but jokes, in a similar way as humans, simply evolve. Even if you make up a joke from scratch, the chances are rocket-high that somebody else has already made that one up.
The oldest and widely popular gag book “Philogelos” is one of the oldest proofs that our predecessors too respected the art of a good joke. This collection of jokes was written in Greek and judging from the language it’s written in, it is believed that it comes from the 4th century AD. “The Laughter Lover” features 265 jokes, categorized into subjects such as People with Bad Breath, Horny Women, Teachers, etc. Many of today’s jokes are similar to the ones from the book, but who knows how long they existed before being written in a book.
Even if the jokes from “Philogelos” haven’t survived in the exact same way that the two Greek authors found amusing, we can still find their main themes in today’s funny jokes, which are wannabe-intellectuals, stupid people’s behavior, men-women relationships and others. The formula of most stand up comedians, professional comedians and joke tellers nowadays is to simply modernize an old joke by using more relevant cultural references and up-to-date information.
What’s very different today than once is the very act of telling jokes. Our several century-long tradition of telling funny jokes is slowly being killed off by the ever-advancing technology. We have moved on from telling each other new one-liners we’ve just heard, whether schoolmates, coworkers, friends or relatives, as we’d rather text the person we want to share the joke with just a moment after we hear it. Social networking sites, internet videos, e-mails and blogs for fun are the new way of telling jokes now.
Since technology has become a vital part of our daily lives, many of us prefer to share humor through the Internet. Back in the day people practiced the art of telling jokes in order to be successful when telling it, while today people consider remembering all the details of a joke to be a highly challenging task. There are some people who are naturally good at it, but practice is what makes it perfect, which means that anyone can tell a joke. If you’re worrying that you might tell the joke wrong and look stupid, then you should practice more and become more self-confident.
Even when people muster up the courage to tell a joke in person, they’d only tell it to close friends and family. Joking with the boss, neighbors or some other, not-so-close people has become a big no-no. While there’s no way of finding out if it was the same case back in the day, assuming that people then had more confidence in telling funny jokes, they might just have.
To sum it up, the things have changed. The way we perceive humor is very different from it once was, but the jokes are pretty much the same. Same formula, different details – that’s what most of today’s joke-tellers do. But that doesn’t mean today’s jokes suck. On the contrary, they’ve never been more hilarious!