A joke that kills is usually a figure of speech for a really funny bit of humor. Sometimes, though, it’s quite literal. Take the time an emperor cracked a joke about a woman’s age, and paid for it with his life. Or the time when an ancient Greek tyrant made a vulgar joke at his lover’s expense, and was stabbed to death for his trouble. Below are twenty five things about those and other historic humor moments.
Why It Has Long Been Considered Ungentlemanly to Ask a Woman Her Age
It has long been understood in polite society that to ask a woman her age is rude. To joke about a woman’s age, especially if the would-be comedian is a man, is deemed not only ungentlemanly, but outright boorish. To be sure, when examined logically, it is ridiculous to consider one’s age an embarrassment. However, in a society that extols youth and degrades age, and even often (illegally) values youth over experience at the workplace, the existence of such hangups is understandable. As Miss Manners of The Washington Post put it: “that question should not be asked of anyone except children“.
Throughout much of history, women have often been judged based on their looks and physical appeal. It was generally taken that with the passage years, a woman’s beauty, fertility, and desirability, diminished. Such perceptions often engendered feelings of insecurity on the part of many women. Those same perceptions were also often seen by some men, of the more ungentlemanly sorts, as an opportunity to make fun of and crack cruel age-based jokes at women’s expense. Sometimes those jokes backfired. As seen below, an emperor met an untimely death at the hands of a woman whose age he made fun of, when she failed to see the humor in his joke.