The Origin of The Yo Mama Joke
Curious who wrote the first one? In light of Mother’s Day, we’re taking a look back at the history of the ‘Yo Mama’ joke.
Everyone’s heard a “Yo Mama” joke by now, or even cracked one themselves. After all, these jokes were popular since the ’90s — but did you know they’ve been around for much longer than that? In fact, “Yo Mama” jokes date all the way back to before the Common Era.
The first-known “Yo Mama” joke occurred in 3500 BCE. According to The Huffington Post, researchers in Babylon found a tablet that featured a few fairly inappropriate jokes revolving around beer, death and mothers. Since the tablet is so old that it’s hard to read, perfectly translating the joke about the mother is difficult, but it says, “…of your mother is by the one who has intercourse with her. What or who is it?”
It’s supposed to describe a riddle, but it doesn’t exactly make sense to anyone in the modern day. Nevertheless, it does count as the world’s first “Yo Mama” joke. Of course, there were more to follow in the centuries after it.
Shakespeare and “Yo Mama”
Though Shakespeare wasn’t the first person in history to make a “Yo Mama” joke, it’s likely that his joke was the most widely published, which is pretty impressive. As The Independent reports, the play “Titus Andronicus” featured this gem:
Demetrius: “Villain, what hast thou done?”
Aaron: “That which thou canst not undo.”
Chiron: “Thou hast undone our mother.”
Aaron: “Villain, I have done thy mother.”
It’s unknown whether audiences back then fully appreciated the fact that they had just heard a “Yo Mama” joke. They likely had no idea how popular this type of joke would become in the ’90s!
“Yo Mama” Jokes in Pop Culture
Shakespeare’s “Yo Mama” joke might have been the first one published, but “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was the first movie to feature such a joke. In this 1975 film, a French soldier yelled, “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”
Of course, it took a couple more decades for “Yo Mama” jokes to really catch on with the public. In 1993, “In Living Color” became the first-known TV show to mention this type of joke. One episode featured a game called “The Dirty Dozens” that had the same style as “Concentration” and “Jeopardy” combined, but it required contestants to toss out insults about each other’s moms.
The skit was so popular that it stuck around for future episodes, with fans of the show starting to quote jokes like “Yo mama’s so fat, they had to baptize her at Sea World.”
And the rest is history.
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