Mark Twain once said that there is no such thing as original thought. Every idea we have has already been thought of before.
“We are nothing but echoes. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own, we are but a compost heap made up of the decayed heredities, moral and physical.” – Mark TwainEven the famous Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch follows the illusion of original thought. The British newspaper, The Telegraph, reported that the Dead Parrot Sketch is 1,600 years old. The news blurb states a comedy duo called Hierocles and Philagrius told the original version 1,600 years ago in ancient Greece.
Hierocles and Philagrius were comedians in ancient Greece. Wikipedia dates their jokes from circa 400 AD. These long lost jokes from the turn-of-the-fourth-century, originally compiled by that irrepressible pair have been translated and introduced by Professor William Berg into the book Philogelos: The Laugh Addict - The World's Oldest Joke Book. The original “Dead Parrot” joke involves a dead slave instead of a parrot and goes something like this:
You can view this online free of charge on yudu.com (embedded below). This ebook includes a video interview with comedian Jim Berg and his standup performance of these jokes.You can find the ancient Greek version of the Dead Parrot joke at the bottom of Page 25.
“A man goes up to student dunce and says, ‘ The slave you sold me died.’
‘By the gods,’ counters the dunce, ‘when he was with me, he never did any such thing!’