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Linda Rodriguez | The History of Farting for Money

Linda Rodriguez, The New Republic:

Farts are and have always been funny—an odiferous, invisible thread in the rich tapestry of global comic tradition. They are funny in virtually every culture, every language, every era. The oldest joke in the world, according to the University of Wolverhampton, is a fart joke: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap” would have cracked up the Sumerians of 1900 BC. Master Athenian playwright Aristophanes peppered his comic plays with fart jokes, as did Shakespeare. Geoffrey Chaucer used well-placed farts to puncture pretension in his Canterbury Tales, and at least two stories in theThousand and One Nights hinge on farts. An ode to a fart in Parliament from 1607 was popular for decades after the fart itself had dissipated; François Rabelais’s stories of Gargantua and Pantagruel reek of farts; Mark Twain’s fart joke, a mock-Elizabethan diary entry titled “1601” or “Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors”, was long considered unprintable, featuring as it did Queen Elizabeth sputtering, “Verily in mine eight and sixty yeres have I not heard the fellow to this fart.”


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