Skip to content

The Funniest Joke From Every Decade Since 1900

Meet the bits that have no expiration date.

Fact: Great jokes are as old as recorded history. (Indeed, Reuters recently traced the first known instance of comedy back to a Sumerian proverb from 1,900 B.C.E.) And one thing is certain: the elements of an amazing joke have never changed. Comedians have always walked a fine line between misery and the absurd, and, if they're truly good, they find a way to bring the two together in profoundly funny, unforgettable ways.

With that in mind, we've gathered our favorite jokes reaching back as far as 1900, including Prohibition-era one-liners about the perils of life without alcohol to Robin Williams exploring the explosive relationships that exist between men and women. So read on, and prepare yourself to burst with laughter! And for more guffaws courtesy of your favorite comedians, don't miss these 50 Amazing Jokes From Comedy Legends.

The 1900s

Anna Howard Shaw Joke

[Speaking of the Women's Suffrage Movement.] "A man opposed to their enfranchisement once said to me, 'Women have never produced anything of any value to the world.' I told him the chief product of the women had been the men and left it to him to decide whether the product was of any value."

—Anna Howard Shaw, Women's Rights Advocate

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The 1910s


Grandmother: "How useless girls are today. I don't believe you know what needles are for."

Girl: "How absurd you are, grandma. Of course I know what needles are for. They're to make the graphophone play."

—The Onlooker, Foley, Alabama, 1915

The 1920s

W.C. Fields Joke
Public Domain

"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water."

—W.C. Fields, American comedian

And for more quippy one-liners, check out these 25 Monty Python One-Liners That Are Relevant Today.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The 1930s

Will Rogers Joke

"We're the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poorhouse in an automobile."

—Will Rogers, Great Depression-era humorist

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The 1940s

Man and Woman at Desk Joke

A man walks into the records office and asks to change his name.

The clerk is not keen on helping but asks the man's name and the man replies, "My name is Adolf Stinkfoot."

The clerk is sympathetic and decides to allow the man to change his unfortunate name. "What do you want to change it to?" asks the clerk, the man replies "Maurice Stinkfoot."

The 1950s

Bob Hope Joke

"Senator McCarthy is going to disclose the names of 2 million Communists. He just got his hands on a Moscow telephone book."

—Bob Hope

The 1960s

Robert Orben Joke

"I still can't understand why it should cost a quarter of a billion dollars to send a camera to Mars. What's it going by—cab?"

—Robert Orben, Comedian

The 1970s

President Richard Nixon Joke

[Speaking about Richard Nixon.] "You tourists should be careful when you visit the White House. So much is swept under the rug that you might hit your head on the ceiling."

—Mark Russell, political satirist for The New York Times

The 1980s

Ronald Reagan Joke

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting."

—Ronald Reagan

The 1990s

Jerry Seinfeld Joke

"What's the deal with airplane peanuts?"

—Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld

The 2000s

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin Saturday Night Live Joke
Saturday Night Live

"I can see Russia from my house!"

—Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

The 2010s

Ellen DeGeneres Joke

"A child born today may never know about cash or credit cards. I mean, what are they gonna steal from their mom's purse?"

—Ellen DeGeneres

And for more comedy gold, check out these 30 Hilarious Jokes No One is Too Old to Laugh At.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter! 

Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
Filed Under