The Universal Funny of Farts

By Miles Jones Jr.

For hundreds of years human flatulence seems to have held its place in the annals of comedy. People who merely roll their eyes at a performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ would cackle until their spleens burst if Bottom, impromptu, were to say “Listen to this, it’s too good to miss – doo-dooby-doo-doo-doo…” and then let an almighty guff ripple his Bottom’s bottoms like a windsock in a gale.

Sir Anthony Henry Bull provided me with this story over a Pimms. It allegedly comes from a recently transcribed papyrus scroll. The great Pharaoh Khufu, commissioner of the Great Pyramid at Giza, was in the pomp of his building phase. He made to his court a proclamation that they were to meet him by the banks of the Nile for the announcement of his next great project. They, of course, feared. The pyramids were, while an honour to build, a tremendous undertaking. There were maybe one or two hundred in the crowd, a mix of courtesans, high ranking masons, planners, supervisors etc. Khufu got up in front of them in full regalia and began to talk vaguely but passionately about the new massive undertaking. A whole crowd waited in tense anticipation to find out what it was when Khufu bent over and farted in front of them, saying “That was my next big project.”

Allegedly the whole crowd burst out laughing, Khufu with them and they all had a big rave up to celebrate what a great year it had been. That, ladies and gents, is a fart prank not from some failed college student’s youtube channel, but from 2589-2566 BC.


Cats are, however, completely unamused by farts. Their delicate olfactory systems are basically assaulted by such gassy releases. Here you can see a cat in full ‘disgust face’ following the floating of an air biscuit.

What is it about the expulsion of bodily gases that is so universally and transtemporally funny? Psychologists have tried to investigate it, but noted the uncontrollable mirth they suffered as a result of the chosen stimuli. The great scientific minds have pondered but when Karl Popper said “Do you want to hear the justification of inductivism in science?” and then farted they all had to stop due to laughter related injuries. Ancient Greek philosophers considered the problem, but it never made it into the dialogues because at the moment Plato had a breakthrough the inappropriately young apprentice he had under him (figuratively and literally) let out a little wet squeaker and he ended up gasping in guffaws and forgot what he was thinking.

Maybe we will never really know. Maybe it’s just one of those things, like why is water wet? Or why are so many interesting, accomplished people entertained by talentless dullards. I don’t understand farts, I don’t understand baths and I don’t understand TV talent shows. I do know the most entertaining one of the three, the funniest one of the three and the one of three that synergises best with the rest. The funny fart is the greatest mystery known to humankind. So let those undies shake and spread your cheeks and laughter.

(Editors Note – In scouring the licence free images for this story, Pixabay seems to think cats and the Obamas are farts. Some of them are not even tagged ‘fart’ but they are there when you search them.)


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