“That’s what SHE said!”
The study of jokes and riddles written in ancient languages we barely understand is, well, a little tricky. But in a recent paper in the journal Iraq, Middle East scholars Michael Streck and Nathan Wasserman describe and interpret some thigh-slappers scrawled on a badly damaged tablet from Babylon, circa 1500 BC. The scribe’s cuneiform is on the sloppy side. The translations are uncertain, too—but no doubt the humor will still shine through. Here’s one riddle for your pleasure:
The deflowered (girl) did not become pregnant
The undeflowered (girl) became pregnant (-What is it?)
The answer is, of course, is “auxiliary forces.” That was your guess too, right? No? If it makes you feel better, Wasserman and Streck didn’t really get it, either.
Astronauts can’t be all business all the time; sometimes you just have to cut loose. Well that’s exactly what billionaire red-nosed clown Guy Laliberte intends to help the astronauts do when they blast into space tomorrow.
From the AP:
The man who hopes to be the first clown in space, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, said Tuesday he would tickle fellow astronauts as they sleep aboard the International Space Station.
The crew must be ecstatic to have him aboard. Laliberte might want to stick to handing out red noses and let the astronauts rest up so they can, um, fly a space shuttle.
MSNBC.com compiled a slideshow of their top nine space antics, a list that will surely include Laliberte’s ticklefest in the future. But for now it seems that astronauts’ favorite pastimes involve playing space golf, eating space fast-food, and dumping space trash.
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A doctor in Britain has finally revealed a medical hoax that she and her husband started 34 years ago. In 1974, after reading a letter in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) describing a painful condition known as “guitar nipple,” Elaine Murphy and her husband John sent in a spoof letter describing an analogous condition they called “cello scrotum.” Much as “guitar nipple” was caused by the edge of the guitar constantly pressing against the breast, “cello scrotum” was supposedly caused by the edge of the instrument pressing against a more intimate area of male cellists.
Of course, anyone who has ever seen a cello being played would realize the impossibility of “cello scrotum.”
Although the Murphys were hoping only for some laughs—perhaps assuming that the satire would be evident—BMJ actually published their letter in complete seriousness.
As any comedian will tell you, bad humor can be a dangerous thing. Comedians who flop have been known to be attacked on stage, or at the least, publicly ridiculed. While science has explored the underpinnings of successful humor, researchers have stayed away from bad humor (at least in their academic pursuits)—until now.
Nancy Bell of Washington State University recruited a team of brave volunteers to accost friends, family members, and complete strangers with a truly terrible joke:
“What did the big chimney say to the little chimney?
“Nothing, chimneys can’t talk.”