National Tell a Joke Day
annually on August 16th
Jokes aren't meant to be kept as secrets, and this is never more the case than on National Tell a Joke Day, which is celebrated today. Jokes are often passed down anonymously, and they don't need to be told verbatim. Although many are told orally, they are also passed down in written form. They appear in books, and in recent years have also been widespread on the internet. They are told in private and public settings. A single joke may be told, or a series of jokes may be told by a comedian to an audience. Jokes use puns, sarcasm, irony, and other comedic techniques.
Like they are today, early jokes were written for entertainment and leisure. They weren't designed to be documented, and those that were written down were done so for their immediate use, not for posterity. They then just happened to be passed along. Early jokes weren't necessarily "clean" jokes. The oldest joke is thought to be a Sumerian proverb from 1900 BCE (maybe from as early as 2300 BCE), which translates to: "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap." Similarly, the second oldest recorded joke isn't necessarily clean either. Dating to around 1600 BCE in ancient Egypt, it goes as follows: "How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish."
The oldest existing joke book is Philogelos (translated to The Laughter-Lover), which dates to the fourth or fifth century CE and contains 265 jokes written in Greek. Many modern jokes are based on jokes in this collection. With the advent of the printing press in the fifteenth century, many joke books began being printed, which were known as jestbooks. One of these was a joke anthology book called Facetiae. Written by Poggio Bracciolini, it appeared in 1470. By at least the nineteenth century, jokes began being used as filler in broadsides and chapbooks. Jokes continue to appear in books, magazines, and online. It doesn't matter where they are found today, they are shared because...it's National Tell a Joke Day!
How to Observe National Tell a Joke Day
Tell a joke or tell a bunch of jokes! Tell some new jokes and tell some old jokes! Tell some long jokes and tell some short jokes! Tell some corny jokes and tell some clever jokes! Tell your jokes to one friend or get up in front of a bunch of people to tell your jokes! There are so many possibilities of ways you could celebrate! We're not joking!