New from Dr. Seuss: Horton Hears A Poot

Oh come on....that was funny. I struggled for all of 2 seconds to come up with that joke. The least you could do was to appreciate it slightly for the same amount of time you spend pondering why the corn in your poo is never chewed. (seriously....it’s not. Look all you want, but poo-corn is always whole kernel).

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Ok....while the first was funny, it devolved into icky fairly quickly. Allow me to swing it back into the funny again:

Next time you fart, while you are letting it go, say loudly enough for people close to you to hear, “Is that fresh popcorn I smell?”. This will ensure everyone will take a deep breath because, hey....who doesn’t love the smell of freshly popped popcorn? Except....that’s not the aroma they’ll get, is it?

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And before anyone asks, no, I am not in a shitty mood. (HAH! Get it?)

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Welcome to your weekly fix of Otters Oddities. If you haven’t noticed yet, I am following a theme here. Funny bathroom humor. More specifically, anal exuding in mostly gaseous form with a little corporeal mass thrown in for good luck. Farts and poop! Geez...do I have to explain everything?

Humans, as a species, find toilet humor to be funny for some reason. Almost everyone likes it, even if they don’t. For proof, gather up a group of friends, both male and female, and watch Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’. When he gets to the part about farts, pay close attention to everyone watching. Eddie will tell about how he and his brother would have ‘fart wars’ where they would fart on each other. One time, his brother got him and Eddie said, “That was a good one. My mouth was open!”.

Now, one thing you’ll notice is, the males will be laughing. The females will be scrunching up their noses and saying “Gross!”, but they will be laughing too.

Why? Because farts are funny. Don’t believe me? Walk up to any group of young boys and just say the word ‘fart’. They will laugh. If they don’t, then you get to take away their boy-card.

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But, why do humans like to make light of potty humor?

Well, it has a lot to do with how we view basic bodily functions. In the past, going to the bathroom wasn’t something people were embarrassed about. After all, everybody poops, right? And everybody pees. Yet, how many people do you know that are absolutely mortified about pooping in a public restroom? Is it because they are afraid of the toilet seat? Or are they embarrassed because they will be pooping? Afraid it will be smelly? Guess what....nobody has pleasant smelling poop.

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It wasn’t really until Victorian times when people started becoming self conscious about poops. In the past, going to the bathroom was just something people did. And when they had to go, they went. Did it smell? Yeah, but so did everyone else’s. In fact, almost every city, town, village and camp smelled like human waste. People weren’t too careful where they went, or where they disposed of their leavings. (or ‘night soil’ as the polite people called it). People emptied the nights chamber pot by tossing it out the window into the street. And they didn’t check to see if the coast was clear first, either. Flying poop was a real danger for quite a while.

Everybody has to poop, yet some people just don’t want to admit it. And talking about bodily functions is taboo. It’s something we’re taught as small children. You don’t talk about what goes on in the bathroom unless you absolutely have to.

So, when kids hear about farts, they laugh because it’s ‘forbidden’. Also because farts make funny noises. From your butt. And you can imitate fart noises with your hands, armpits, mouth, or any number of body parts. And yes, little boys do practice.

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But there’s another reason we like potty humor: it’s been a part of our culture for as long as we can remember. Even our prehistoric ancestors thought farts were funny. And that brings us to todays oddity.

The oldest known joke.

The ancient Sumerians used to live in what is now southern Iraq. They are arguably the very first civilization the Earth knew. (debate ranges about whether or not the Indus Valley civilizations were first. But they didn’t leave us much in the way of dating materiel, so Sumer gets it almost by default)

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Sumerian civilization dates back to about 5400 BCE and they also have the earliest version of proto-writing that dates back to about 3500 BCE. (this means actual words, not pictograms like ancient Chinese or Egyptian). By 3000 BCE cuneiform was fully developed into an actual written language.

And a mud tabled written in cuneiform that dates all the way back to 1900 BCE contains the very first known joke.

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And since I know you’re all dying to read the worlds oldest known joke, without further ado, here it is:

“Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s embrace.”

Yep. That’s it. A real knee-slapper, isn’t it?

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Look, I said it was the worlds oldest known joke. I didn’t say it was funny.

But I’m sure you noticed something right off the bat. The oldest known joke is also the first known fart joke. Fart jokes are part of human culture. We can’t help but laugh at them. It’s in-stink-t. (heh heh heh...see what I did there?) People have been laughing at farts for as long as people have communicated. Early proto-humans like Homo erectus or Homo ergaster most likely sat around after meals and would laugh when one of their group would drop a really loud or particularly high pitched squeaker.

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Now, if you don’t think that the earliest know joke is very funny, don’t fret. None of the other old jokes we know of are very funny either. The worlds second oldest joke dates back to 1600 BCE in Egypt and was supposedly told about the pharaoh Snofru:

“How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a bot full of women dressed in fishing nets down the Nile and tell the Pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

That jokester probably didn’t win “Egypts Got Talent” that season.

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The oldest know British joke comes from the 10th century CE and isn’t much better:

“What hangs at a man’s thigh and wan’t to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? A key.”

Ok. Now go back and re-read the joke I made about the cat picture I started this post with.

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See? It was funny after all, wasn’t it?