With the increase in literacy in the general population and the growth of the printing industry, these publications were the most common forms of printed material between the 16th and 19th centuries throughout Europe and North America.Along with reports of events, executions, ballads and verse they also contained jokes.
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All of these early jestbooks corroborate both the rise in the literacy of the European populations and the general quest for leisure activities during the Renaissance in Europe.
The earliest extant joke book predates the printing press by a millennium; it is from the 4th century A. The Philogelos (The Laughter Lover) is (hand-)written in Greek and contains a collection of 265 jokes by Hierocles and Philagrius.
Only one of many broadsides archived in the Harvard library is described as "1706.
Grinning made easy; or, Funny Dick's unrivalled collection of curious, comical, odd, droll, humorous, witty, whimsical, laughable, and eccentric jests, jokes, bulls, epigrams, &c.
The New Yorker was first published in 1925 with the stated goal of being a "sophisticated humour magazine" and is still known for its cartoons.
The practice of printers to use jokes and cartoons as page fillers was also widely used in the broadsides and chapbooks of the 19th century and earlier.
It is generally held that jokes benefit from brevity, containing no more detail than is needed to set the scene for the punchline at the end.
In the case of riddle jokes or one-liners the setting is implicitly understood, leaving only the dialogue and punchline to be verbalised.
There are many types of joke books in print today; a search on the internet provides a plethora of titles available for purchase.