Lookest thou over there!

Ha ha! Madeth thou look! So endeth the trick.

Yes. Yes I did just steal a joke from Geico. But the government has been stealing from us for so long, it's only fair.*

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There are many commercials out there. I'm one of the rare few who actually watches them instead of fast forwarding through them. Why? Because I'm Otter and do you really think I need a reason?

Actually, it's because a well done commercial is often better than the show it's interrupting.

Most of the time, commercials are bad. Not just bad, but annoying. There's a reason people like to skip them.

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There's many reasons for the bad commercials. And some of the time, it has to do with budget. Mostly, I think it has to do with the company who created it attempting to be funny, but failing miserably. And failing miserably at humor is something I know about.

But occasionally you see a commercial that you enjoy. And sometimes, you see a commercial that just sticks in your head because it was so good. The quoted commercial is one of those for me.

And I'm not alone in enjoying commercials. Every year you'll see compilation shows of the years best commercials. They even have awards for great commercials. Generally it's not American commercials that win, though. And there's a reason for that.

In almost every country that isn't America, commercials make up much less of the broadcast allotment of a tv show. And because they don;t saturate the airways with ads, they have to put more effort into them. And that results in a general higher quality of ad.

Sure, America has good ads too. But if you really pay attention, you'll notice that the better ones are usually made by a small cadre of elite ad agencies. In general, advertisers in America just don't care. They need to pump out the most commercials in the shortest amount of time they can to make more money.

They also have to pander to the lowest common denominator out there. And remember, this is a country that loves Honey Boo Boo. That denominator is pretty low.

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I decided to do a post about jokes. As in, what was the oldest practical joke. Well, it might surprise you to find this out, but, people haven't actually kept the best records on this type of thing. It seems everyone thought it was more important to record things like 'Who the king invaded today', or 'X number of people died from the plague today'.

But Otter is nothing if not determined. I quickly determined that the people of antiquity were just as likely to kill the joker as they were to record the joke.

So I changed my criteria to 'oldest joke'.

This is, of course, not going to be 100% accurate. After all, humor is as old as humans. Back in the early days of humanity, back when we were hunter-gatherers, people laughed. If Oog was balanced on a log, trying to catch a fish, and he fell in, Nog, Tog and Mog would have laughed at him. Using their primitive language skills, they would have entertained each other while sitting around. And telling funny stories would have been one of those ways.

What I needed to find was the oldest recorded joke.

Here is what I found:

The oldest joke my extensive research turned up is from ancient Sumer. The Sumerians were one of the first civilizations we really know of. They were made up of the people who inhabited the area of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq.

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Writing from Sumer dates back as far as 3,500 BCE, but the Sumerians first settled the area and built their cities in about 5,500 BCE. That makes them old.

The oldest recorded joke is from a tablet that dates back to about 1,900 BCE, and proves toilet humor has been in fashion forever.

"Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husbands lap."

Uh-huh. That's it. That's the oldest joke I could find.

Look, I said it was a old joke. I didn't say it was funny.

In case anyone is wondering, the oldest practical joke I could find dates back to about 220 CE and is attributed to the Roman Emperor Elagabalus. During one of the many feasts he held, he seated his wealthy guests on inflated leather cushions. As the night progressed, he had his slaves release the air from the cushions, so by the end of the night, everyone was sitting on the hard floor.

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It was funny! Ok....he was the emperor, you laughed at his joke or he had you killed.

The first prank phone call I could find dates back to 1884 when some anonymous caller would call a local undertaker and have them go to some house to pick up a body, except, no one was dead.

So there you have it. Humor is old. And not always funny.

* Geico....Government Employees Insurance COmpany.