Generally, prostitution is regarded as “the oldest profession.” Not to be confused with Walmart greeter, which is “the oldest people’s profession.” Seriously, will nobody under the age of 80 do this job? Seems pretty easy, just wave hello and say, “Welcome to Walmart, I was a centimeter taller yesterday.”
But as much as I respect prostitutes (and I do, even though two hookers and their pimp threatened to kill me in Waikiki a few years ago, but that’s a story for another day) allow me to make a case for comedy as the world’s actual oldest profession.
The oldest reference to prostitution was in 1772 BC in Mesopotamia. The Code of Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian law code, addresses the rights of female prostitutes. You know, an eye for an eye, a buck for a — well, you get the picture.
However, researchers have uncovered what is believed to be the world’s oldest joke stemming from about 120 years before that in 1900 BC (in Mesopotamia as well). And according to Dr. Paul McDonald of the University of Wolverhampton, it is a fart joke. Naturally. (The second oldest joke is probably how Sumerians dance like this, but Samarrans dance like that.) Trust me, it wasn’t long after the first fart joke was told that someone got paid for doing fart jokes.
There you go: incontrovertible evidence of comedy predating prostitution.
To be fair, there are professional gamblers, and records of gambling date back as far as the 4th century BC. 5000 year-old dice have even been found. However, can gambling really be considered a profession? You can get good at it, and even make some money off of it. But as soon as you get too good, casinos will turn you away. (Hello, Ben Affleck.) If it’s a real job, nobody gets fired because they get too good at doing it.
Coincidentally, if you’d like to experience all three of the world’s oldest professions all in one handy place at the same time, please come visit me in Las Vegas this month as I gamble away my future, being a whore for laughs. You’ll have two chances to catch my show in the desert:
Viva Las Vegas!