Bad jokes are in the eye of the beholder. However, there’s one quip that we can all agree is beyond tired: Why did the chicken cross the road? It wasn’t funny when I heard it at age 3, it ain’t funny now, and I doubt that it’ll suddenly become hilarious when I hear it in 30 years. So, who do we have to “thank” for this cruddy attempt at humor? I set out to assign blame where blame is due.
As with many cases of old sayings and phrases, the origin of this joke is a bit murky. However, I did manage to track down a few respected sites that claim the first use of the phrase came about in 1847 in a monthly magazine called “The Knickerbocker.” The magazine Time Out Sydney confirms that fact, and argues that the point of the joke is that it isn’t really a joke. And that’s what makes it funny. Or something.
Xooxle Answers, a professional research service, tracked down a copy of the actual magazine that lists the joke and posted the document on its site. The 1847 magazine originally read: “…There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street? Are you ‘out of town?’ Do you ‘give it up?’ Well, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!’ Are your sides hurting yet?
Of course, there are alternate punch lines to the chicken joke. Sadly they’re not much funnier. “To get away from Colonel Sanders” or “Because the farmer told him to” are two such responses you’re likely to hear from local 5-year-olds or read on the back of Laffy Taffy wrappers.
Still, while I clearly have a strong aversion to chicken-based humor, I know that there are plenty of other awful jokes out there. So, I want to hear from you. What’s the worst (PG-rated) joke you’ve ever heard? I’m hoping if we get enough responses, we can figure out what might really be the absolute lamest, least funny joke ever uttered. Then we’ll all make a vow to never say it again. Who’s in?
Thanks for reading,
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