This Handwritten Gag Book From 1886 Contains Some Pretty Awful Jokes

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If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether or not people in the olden days had better or more clever jokes than we do today, well, the New York Public Library Digital Collections has your answer – and it’s “definitely now.”

They’ve found this book titled The Gag Book, a handwritten collection of vaudevillian jokes and songs from 1886. The author is unknown, and after reading all 530 of these carefully numbered and absolutely terrible jokes, I’ve got to think that was on purpose.

Just go on and see for yourself.

First, we begin with a joke that feels a bit degrading, but here goes.

“What kind of a voice has a washwoman”

“A soaprano”

Next, we’re going to have a chuckle at the expense of a ladies’ bottom!

“What is the difference between a novel and a ladies bustle?”

“The novel is a tale founded on fiction. The bustle is a fictitious tail founded on stern reality. “

And then there’s this little gem, because everyone loves a one-liner that really packs some punch.

“What holds all the snuff in the world?”

“No one nose.”

Yeah, that was a good one.

I thought this next one was going to have something to do with Murphy’s law, but I was sadly mistaken.

“Do you know Murphy—yes well he is weak he can’t stand alone.”

“I asked him if he could stand a loan of five dollars and he said no.”

You guys. I might have chuckled once but it was mostly because I felt sorry for these people. Ha!

Did any of these tickle your funny bone? You can admit it in the comments, or you know, go and read more of them for yourself.

Different strokes for different folks and all that!