Joe Miller’s Joke Book

I always wanted to be a stand up comedian — but I just don’t have the legs for it. . . .

I love good jokes.  Comedy.  The Three Stooges (“are you kidding Petersen?”).  The Honeymooners.  Seinfeld.  I love to laugh.   Belly laugh.  The person I’d like most to have dinner with?  Aristophanes (see post of August 28, 2011).  My favorite funny movie?  “Planes Trains and Automobiles.”  Rent it.  Please!  Or maybe it’s “Airplane.”  Or “Young Frankenstein.”  Or “The Pink Panther.”  Humor is a great medicine (see post of July 28, 2011). 

While Aristophanes was the first stand up comedian in about 400 B.C., the first book of jokes wasn’t published until 1739.  It was Joe Miller’s Joke Book, then known as Joe Miller’s Jests or The Wit’s Vade-Mecum.  Joe Miller (1684-1738) was an English actor who played a large number of humorous/comedic parts.  When Miller died, a chap named John M0tley (1692-1750) published Joe Miller’s Jests in 1739.  It was a collection of contemporary and ancient witticisms.  The first edition had 247 numbered jokes. 

A famous teacher of Arithmetick who had long been married without being able to get his Wife with Child.  One said to her ‘Madam, your Husband is an excellent Arithmetician.’  ‘Yes, replies she, only he can’t multiply.'”   (That’s number 234) 

Joe Miller was referred to by Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) (“Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending [the turkey] to Bob’s. . . .”). 

Maybe after I croak, someone will write a book “The Renaissance Hombre’s Joke Book.”  I have a card file full of them!  Yeah. . . . .   

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