The Best Jokes of All Time

Q. What did the ocean say to the sailboat?

A. Nothing, it just waved.

Q. Why couldn’t the bicycle stand up by itself?

A. It was two tired.

Laughter, according to Aristotle, is a distinctive trait of humanity that sets us apart from animals, and humoring people with witty one-liners or comical tales has been considered an art form for many years. Linguist Robert Hetzron defined a joke as: “… a short humorous piece of oral literature in which the funniness culminates in the final sentence called the punchline …” which sums up the basic structure of a typical joke.

The oldest known joke was traced by academics at the University of Wolver Hampton to the Sumerians of Southern Iraq in 1,900BC, making the art of joke-telling almost as old as civilization itself.


(Photo by Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It’s All Physiological Response to Humor

Since then, history has been full of amusing gags in all areas of life, from Shakespeare’s literature to Winston Churchill’s political quips.

This article focuses on the best jokes of all time and explores the history and psychology behind them, as well as the reasoning as to why they’re so popular with people currently. The jokes have been grouped according to type: traditional, one-liner, anecdote, non-sequitur, and topical.

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