“We are not amused,” Queen Victoria is said to have uttered at a dinner party in response to a bawdy story told at Windsor Castle.
That now-famous phrase has to come to symbolize how her entire reign is viewed, as a dour and humorless time in Great Britain, when the country couldn’t even pause for a joke.
But the British Library is now trying to change that. They are looking for a squad of volunteer “joke detectives” to dive deep into Victorian-era texts in search of a little humor, according to The Telegraph. (For her part, Queen Victoria denied ever uttering the dinner party phrase so closely identified with her.)
The joke-finding project was launched by the library and a British professor, who plans to present his findings at Harvard University next week.
“Bad husbands are like bad coals – they smoke, they go out, and they don’t keep the pot boiling,” is one such quip the project has uncovered. Another is:
“What do you call men who hate long sentences?”
One more, and then we can move on:
“When is a dog fully-dressed?”
“When he has on his collar and pants.”
If you’re interested in helping dig up other such gems, one way to do it is on Twitter, #VictorianJokes.