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Maybe Not the Funniest Joke, But the Oldest

Posted on 2008.11.17 at 18:06
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: If I Laugh - Cat Stevens
When I was growing up, the oldest person I knew was my grandfather; specifically, my father’s father. He was born in 1891 and served in Europe during World War I. He was an affable fellow who enjoyed a drink or five, and he knew a great many amusing songs, jokes, and anecdotes, many of which I assume I never heard due to my comparative youth.

As you probably know, I have been a student of humor pretty much all my life. At some point around my early teens, not long before grandpa died, it occurred to me to ask him to tell me the oldest joke he knew. Since he was, as I have noted, the oldest person I knew, I was excited at the prospect of hearing a genuine 19th century joke; not some stilted words being academically reported on a printed page, but an out-loud, dynamic retelling from the mouth of someone who was actually there.

I think Grandpa must have sensed the seriousness of my query, because he took a few minutes to carefully consider his reply. I suppose, in retrospect, he could also have been eliminating certain types of jokes from consideration, but I’m going to take him at his word. He finally said, “OK, here’s the oldest joke I can remember: A termite walks into a bar and asks, ‘Where’s the bar tender?’”

OK… I probably should have asked him to tell me the funniest joke he could remember. I know it’s not a great joke, but that’s not really the point. I’m just glad I went ahead and asked him, and that he took the time to come up with an answer. I think the historical value of that joke clearly outweighs any consideration of its humor value.


(Anonymous) at 2008-11-18 04:41 (UTC) (Link)

The Joker

Perhaps we have a combination of factors: The oldest joke he could remember may be from when he was a kid; in addition to a joke that would be appropriate for you.
Alas, the only memory I have of him is of an old man. I hope my nieces and nephews fare better with memories of their grandfather.
-- ggreen
charlesofcamden at 2008-11-19 04:25 (UTC) (Link)

Re: The Joker

I've tried to think of the oldest joke I can remember from my own youth, and it's very difficult. So who knows when Grandpa's joke dated from. Still, I have little choice but to take him at his word.
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