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The First Joke Book

Joseph Miller or Joe as his friends called him was a small-time English stage actor who specialised in comic roles.

Miller was a mournful-looking man who did not talk much but could make people laugh with his jokes and wisecracks. Unfortunately he could not translate this talent into money and when he died in 1738 his family found itself in dire straits.

One of Miller's friend's, John Mottley decided he had to help the family and with this intention published a collection of jokes and witticisms originated by Miller.

The book 'Joe Miller's Jests' was the first-ever Joke book in English. The proceeds of the book went to Miller's family and it must have helped that family's finances considerably as the book was a great success and went into several editions. The book originally consisted of 272 jokes and 72 pages but people kept adding to the jokes (any old joke came to be called a Joe Miller) till finally it expanded into a fat volume containing more than 1500 jokes.

Here are two Joe Millers

Two men dining at an inn got into a heated argument over government policies.
Said the inn-keeper to them :
"Don't talk politics, eat and drink"
"If a man thinks only of eating and drinking what distinguishes him from cattle!" asked one of the diners.
"Paying the bill, sir," replied the innkeeper.

"I want to be well-known. If people don't see me for a week they should ask each other 'Where is Mr. Brown?'"
"That is very easy to accomplish. Borrow money from everybody and vanish."

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