Important Moments in Humor Timeline

15,000 B.C. – A caveman named Slap invents the stick.

45 B.C. – A chicken crosses the road. No reason is given. Speculation ensues.

37 A.D. – Door is invented. “Knock-Knock” jokes suddenly make sense.

1003 – Brother Theodupus Canterbury invents the “gotcha nose” trick. Unfortunately, he works on a leper colony, so he really did pull off people’s noses.

1269 – The Church excommunicates Simeon Lacrosse for placing a whoopee cushion on the Seat of St. Peter.

1487 – Leonardo da Vinci designs proto-type of the seltzer bottle. Squirts Michelangelo.

1492 – On October 11, Columbus manages to forestall mutiny by pointing west and yelling, “Land!” then adding “made you look!”

1599 – Shakespeare almost nails it with his play “Eleventh Night.”

1734 – Francis Reginald, Earl of Prat, falls for the first time.

1812 – Dolly Madison, who popularized ice cream in America, makes a banana split. During the War of 1812, in her haste to flee Washington, D.C., she slips on one of her discarded banana peels to big laughs.

1847 – Firemen first issued red suspenders. Why? To hold their pants up.

1866 – Alfred Bernhard Nobel, inventor of dynamite, goes on to invent the exploding cigar, costing him his own Nobel peace prize.

1896 – Harvey “Who” Houdini is traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he is made their first baseman.

1901 – Someone tells Charlie Chaplin to “shut up,” thereby inventing silent comedy.

1903 – Orville Wright flies 120 feet at Kitty Hawk, telling people afterward, “…and boy, are my arms tired!”

1919 – Dessert chef Lenny Meringue, in an attempt to prove how light and fluffy his pastries are, takes out a million dollar insurance policy against anyone being injured by one of his desserts. Sales soar as people attempt to claim the money by hitting each other with pies.

1922 – Clerk Larry Coal invents “office humor” by asking a co-worker, “You working hard, or hardly working?” for the first of what will be many, many, many times.

1924 – By crossbreeding poultry and rubber plants, Thomas Edison creates the rubber chicken.

1926 – Stan gets Ollie into their very first mess.

1928 – Congress passes the Funny Mann Act, mandating a limit of three on stooges and brothers.

1933 – Prohibition ends and a priest, a rabbi and a duck walk into a bar…

1938 – Xerox machine is invented. Immediately everyone gets a bad copy of the “excuse me, you must have mistaken me for somebody who gives a damn” cartoon.

1942 – Somebody takes Henny Youngman’s wife.

1948 – First humor comic book published. Called “Rabid,” it folds after the first issue.

1949- TV begins beaming comedy shows into America’s living rooms and there’s not a darn thing America can do to stop it.

1951 – Novelty inventor Ben Larsen rips off Groucho Marx’s face to wear at a costume party. He is apprehended and surgeons are able to re-attach Groucho’s face.

1957 – Marcel Marceau visits Chicago during a transit strike and is forced to walk to his show on a really windy day.

1964 – “Found comedy” first discovered.

1968 – Drug humor first performed at, you know, that place, man, with that dude, the guy. Oh, man, I forget.

1970 – Sophomoric comedy all the rage, except among college sophomores for some odd reason.

1974 – Jerry Seinfeld first notices something.

1982 – Attitude is introduced to stand-up comedy. Punch lines and jokes are no longer required.

1984 – Stand-up comedy declared the new “roll & rock.” Rock & roll sues.

1987 – first “blonde” joke told.

1988 – Dan Quayle elected vice-president.

1990 – Al Gore invents Internet and sends out “You know your boss is an idiot whenâÂ?¦” email.

1991 – Pauly Shore captures America’s attention, but it escapes.

1997 – Comedy writers go on strike. Reality television invented.

2001 – “The Osbournes” airs. Everyone is in on the joke except the Osbournes.

2003 – First blonde gets first “blonde” joke.

2004 – Dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Comic.

2006 – Associated publishes Humor Time-Line.

2025 – Comet strikes the earth, wiping out all life…oh, wait, you weren’t supposed to see that.

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