The world’s oldest joke dates back around 4000 years and was popular among ancient Sumerians, a University of Wolverhampton study recently found. Other ancient - and rather irreverent - jokes were about pharaohs and Englishmen in the 10th century AD. Jokes were more than a way of making people smile; they were a method of rebelling against established authorities and defying social norms. Even today, the goal of jokes and gags remains the same ““ poking fun at influential people and ideas, joining in the general warmth and bonhomie, and providing a defense mechanism against stress. After all, if you can joke about it, then it probably won’tkill you.

The earlier jokes and gags were probably transmitted by word of mouth ““ paper or parchments were expensive, and in any case, only the kingly or priestly classes knew how to read or write. Bawdy theater and dance performances were another way of sharing one-liners about cultural or religious taboos. Even though these performances were often banned by the ruling classes, people from all backgrounds enjoyed them either openly or secretly, which goes to show that human nature has changed little over the past three thousand years.

Jokes and gags can be classified into many categories. There are harmless jokes that you can share with preschoolers, provided they can understand subtle punch lines. There is sarcastic humor that has led to lawsuits. There are jokes that are deemed inappropriate in one setting and perfectly acceptable in other situations. And then there are jokes about groups or communities, deemed offensive to the people who are the butt of the jokes, but nonetheless relished by others. Jokes and gags are among the most common and inexpensive human indulgences ““ and probably the most controversial.

Today, thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to wait for the morning newspaper or buy a magazine to access funny one-liners. The Internet allows you to search, download, or email jokes at a mouse click. A simple search by keyword, such as “politician“, will generate a list of the most popular, recent, or frequently emailed political jokes. If you like a joke very much and want to show your appreciation for it, you can rate it online.

If your friends find your jokes witty and think you should share them with more people, you can submit your own jokes to the jokes and gags websites. The submission process is easy; all you need is an email ID. This is the primary reason that websites feature so many more jokes than your average newspaper or magazine. What is more, new jokes are constantly being added to their directory. These sites are not static. They allow users to interact, rate each other’s work, and provide encouragement and advice. If you are lucky, your submission might become the joke of the day, read by thousands of visitors to the site. Imagine being able to make so many people smile; perhaps a few of them are having a bad day at work, worrying about bills, or wondering how to complete a tough school project.

Jokes and gags websites have changed the way people share fun and laugh at serious matters in an attempt to cheer each other up.

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