Good evening! My devotional tonight is the final of seven penned by my friend, Frank Myer. Frank and I went to Harding University together and our folks did the same several decades previously. Frank writes a weekly devotional called Friday From Frank and he has graciously loaned me several of his excellent pieces! Please continue to pray for me in Vietnam!
I don’t mean to show off, but I did take two years of French in high school, French 1, twice. The teacher didn’t like me.
Was that funny?
It’ hard to tell. Do you remember jokes from twenty years ago? Do you still laugh? Do you ever watch “I Love Lucy” reruns and giggle.
Do you have fond memories of “Get Smart”, “Gilligan’s Island”, “Friends”, or a host of other shows?
Where does humor come from?
How long has mankind been telling jokes?
I Googled the Oldest Jokes Known to Man, and this little tid-bit came up. It was a list of the 11 oldest jokes. I copied the best ones.
But to pilfer one of the oldest jokes in the book means dusting off the Philogelos (meaning "Laughter Lover"), a Greek anthology of more than 200 jokes from the fourth or fifth century. From gags about dunces to jests at the expense of great thinkers, here are 11 jokes from the oldest existing collection of jokes, as translated by now-retired classical languages professor William Berg.
"A student dunce went swimming and almost drowned. So now he swears he'll never get into water until he's really learned to swim."
To honor my Olympic Gold Medal winning friend, Earl Young:
"A sharp wit observes a slow runner: 'I know just what that gentleman needs.' 'What's that?' demands the sponsor of the race. 'He needs a horse, otherwise, he can't outrun the competition!'"
"A coward is asked which are safer, warships or merchant-ships. 'Dry-docked ships,' he answers."
Want to know what the oldest recorded joke in the word is?
If you are easily offended, please skip ahead. Although, if you’re easily offended, you are probably not reading Friday From Frank anymore.
Anyway, here we go. According to Google research:
Incidentally, the oldest known joke is - and it makes me very proud of humanity to be able to say this - a fart joke. Here's a 3,900 year old, (1900 BC) zinger from Sumer:
"Something which has never occurred since time immemorial - a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap."
A joke of the flatulatory nature, are you kidding me? And not even a funny one at that.
When your middle school boys tell a fart joke, consider it carrying on a tradition thousands of years old.
For those of you who think this kind of joke should not be in an “inspirational” message, you’re probably right, but this may be just an off week for me. My filter guy went on vacation.
Humor is a tricky thing. What some folks find side-splitting funny, others won’t even offer a mild grin, or smile.
What’s worse, is some people judge other people by their humor.
Humor is automatic.
Let me give you an example. Uh, oh. Don’t be nervous.
What’s good about dating a homeless person?
At the end of the night you can drop them off anywhere.
And we wait…..
Did you laugh? Chuckle? Grimace? Wonder what in the world is wrong with Frank? (It’s okay. Plenty of others have as well.)
You probably didn’t read that, then think. Wait a minute. It appears as though Frank seems to be making light of the homeless situation. There are millions of people who are homeless. There are thousands of homeless vets. Homelessness challenges society with some strong questions. We should not make light of that.
All of that is of course true, but your reaction was instant.
In fact, when I’ve used that joke in the past some people laugh, then feel bad for laughing because of the serious nature of the homeless.
Humor is instant. You either laugh or not. You may second guess your laughter later, but at the moment you laughed. Humor works that way.
That’s way the great line used by comedians: Dying is easy, comedy is hard.
Speaking of comedians, go to YouTube and search for Johnny Carson. Watch some of the clips with comedians. They are hilarious.
Have you ever told a joke, then tried to explain why it’s so funny? My experience shows that almost never works.
Why is that?
Humor is a function of who we are.
Even people with no sense of humor think they have one, which I call irony.
Where does this come from? The humor, not my ideas.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness
There are several verses in the Bible that talks about man being made in the nature, or likeness of God.
What does that tell you? God has a sense of humor.
Personally, I think that’s why so many comedians are Jewish. They have the gift. Some of you may think that makes no sense at all. You may be right.
We laughed a lot at our house growing up. Mom and dad have a wonderful sense of humor. Mom will tell you she can’t tell a joke, but her observational skills about the funny things in life are outstanding.
It was a given, we laughed, even at some things we probably shouldn’t have. Okay, it might have been more of us kids laughing than the parents, but we did laugh.
A#1 daughter told me on one of her visits back from college she didn’t realize how much we laughed at our house. She said she’d visit her friend’s house and they didn’t laugh nearly as much as we did.
I call that a win.
God gave is the gift of laughter.
Humor helps up manage the ups and downs of life. It helps as we deal with kids, and other people that annoy us. <= a joke.
When we laugh, our blood pressure drops. All sorts of good things happen. When visiting with people, humor helps bridge the gap.
A few years ago there were a group from India visiting with our group, East Dallas Rotary. I was assigned to drive them around. During the day I asked them for a joke from India.
This is what they told me. They said they modified it for Texas. In India they have a character that’s not too bright and there are quite a few jokes about how dumb he is or how little he understands.
Tommy is going for a job interview. The boss asks Tommy, “Where were you born?” Tommy replies, “Texas.” The boss asks, “What part?” Tommy tells him, “All of me.” Kind of funny, no?
We all had a little laugh and enjoyed getting to know each other a little better. Humor helps break the ice.
I’m sure if we were more in tuned to the culture, we’d see some of the humor in the Bible. I wonder why God didn’t have the writers include at least one chapter of jokes. Maybe they are in there and we don’t see it.
For example, the camel going through the eye of the needle. Maybe we take that too serious. Maybe Jesus used humor to make a point.
I guess with one of the Ten Commandments being respecting your parents there can’t be any “Yo Mamma” jokes, but I would bet there are some other types in there.
Imagine when we get to heaven we can ask what was funny. Did Moses have a favorite joke?
What would it be? “These three slaves walk into a sea…” Maybe not.
Something about directions, perhaps?
What about King David? I’m pretty sure I know what his favorite song is, at least now. “Dancing in the Street” as sung by Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Google it. It’s a classic.
Did the apostles tell jokes? They seemed to eat dinner a lot. Who doesn’t tell jokes at dinner time?
What’s the point?
God sent us a gift. Humor. Use it. Hone it. Look for it. Be grateful for it.
Share a joke and a smile with someone. Just maybe a grin can help bring down the barriers between folks, and a little more gracious conversation will ensue.
Enjoy the ride, Frank Myer
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org