(Very) Old Jokes Home
As promised, a joke from the Liber Facetiarum of Poggio Bracciolini (1451), with two 20th century descendants below.
I should warn you that, for an ecclesiastical secretary, PB had a fairly filthy sense of humour. Prudes read on at your own risk.
"An itinerant quack came to Venice, on whose sign was pictured a Priapus divided, at certain intervals, by bandstrings. A certain Venetian came up, and enquired the meaning of those partitions. The quack, for the fun of the thing, replied that his member was endowed with such a peculiar property that if, with a woman, he used but the first part, he begot merchants; if the second, soldiers; up to the third, generals; up to the fourth, Popes; his fee being proportionate to the rank and quality ordered.
The dolt took his word for it and, after a conference with his wife, brought him to his house and bargained for a soldier. As soon as the quack had set about the job, the husband made a pretence of withdrawing, but hid himself behind the bed; when he saw the pair hard at work manufacturing the soldier agreed upon, he rushed forward, and giving the man’s backside a vigorous push, so as to secure the advantage even of the fourth division, “By God’s Holy Gospel,” he shouted, “this will be a Pope!”
Compare these two versions, from Gershon Legman's "The Rationale of the Dirty Joke" (1968).
"A man is in court for a whorehouse brawl. He explains that he only had one dollar and was told he could put his penis in only part way, the price being a dollar an inch. 'Then along comes this son-of-a-bitch and steps on me, Judge, and runs my bill up to fourteen dollars!'"
"A little boy sleeping in an upper berth [of a train] with his mother gets up to go to the toilet. On the way back, he tells his mother, he accidentally stepped on the man in the bunk below. 'What did he say?' his mother asks. 'He didn’t say anything, but I heard a lady say ‘Thank you’.”