The UK’s oldest joke shows humour has pretty much stayed the same
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You’d been forgiven for thinking dad jokes have been around forever, but an academic researcher has actually found the UK’s oldest joke.
Uncovered by the boffins at the University of Wolverhampton, the rib tickler dates all the way back to the 10thcentury.
If you were thinking people were a little more prudish back then, think again as the NSWF joke proves that humour has changed very little over the centuries.
Commissioned by the comedy TV channel Dave, the research was led by Dr Paul McDonald who spent over two months trying to the world’s oldest joke back in 2008.
Called the Dave Historical Humour Study, it found one-liners as far back as 1900BC, with the first joke being part of a Sumerian proverb.
Much closer to home though is a rather crude riddle found in the Exeter Codex, which is an assortment of Old English Poetry.
First written down in the 10th Century AD, it goes as follows: “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before?”
And the answer….A Key (obviously!).
Whilst the joke might not necessarily be a crowd-pleaser nowadays, Reddit user had their own responses to the NSWF joke.
In fact, one user had a very different response saying: “My first thought was a sword (the hole being its scabbard).” Our thoughts exactly - obviously.
Another added: "I was also thinking sword, but the hole being a stab wound lol", to which a third replied: “If you're having to stab someone in the same wound over and over again something's wrong with your sword. Lol”
Whilst the war of the words rages on in the Reddit forum – experts have spoken about the old jokes and how it offers a fascinating insight into British humour across the centuries.
According to Dr McDonald, the jokes show that there is a ‘willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion’ throughout the ages.
He added: “Modern puns, Essex girl jokes and toilet humour can all be traced back to the very earliest jokes identified in this research.”
Meanwhile, the then-head of Dave, Steve North, said: “Throughout the years, British humour has always had an element of witty banter to it. What is interesting about these ancient jokes is that they feature the same old stand-up comedy subjects: relationships, toilet humour and sex jokes. The delivery may be different, but the subject matter hasn’t changed a bit.”