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Historical Longevity Joke

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"Something tells me that the first three of kings you set were Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar."

Alice makes fun of Bob's age by suggesting that he was alive during a time period that's well beyond living memory. For example:

Alice: I'm writing a paper on the Civil War. Do you remember where you were when Lincoln died?

This could also work with Alice being a very naive character who doesn't realize how insulting she's being. Alternatively, it could involve Bob making a self-deprecating joke of this nature when he's made to feel old:


Alice: You didn't have iPhones when you were a kid?!
Bob: No, there was only so much we could pack on the Mayflower.

If the usage of this trope is followed by the revelation that Bob is Really 700 Years Old and was actually living back then, it's a Subverted Trope. If it was previously established that Bob is Really 700 Years Old, this trope does not apply at all. It is also not just any joke about Bob being old but has to include some reference to him being alive during a period in which no living person could have lived.



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    Comic Strips 
  • In The Boondocks, Riley once asked his grandfather Robert if he remembers traveling on a slave ship from Africa to America centuries ago, to which Granddad replied, "I'm not that old!".
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin once asked his dad if dinosaurs were around when he was young. His dad confirms it before his mother tells him Calvin's grades are already bad enough.
  • In one Pickles strip, Earl is reading a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and Nelson asks if Earl voted for him.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Emperor Kuzco describes his elderly adviser Yzma as being living proof that "dinosaurs once roamed the earth". This is just one of many jokes about how unfathomably ancient she is.

    Live Action Film 
  • In Space Cowboys, the titular retirement-age crew of astronauts become stars of a television talk show. The host asks if they fought in "the war". They (and the audience) are led to believe he means the Second World War (or barring that Korean), a not unreasonable question given their ages... and then he follows with "North or South?"

    Live Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: Wait a second, you had a youth, too?!
    Mary: Yes, Dick.
    Dick: Well, what was it like, or can you still remember?
    Mary: It was wonderful. We lived in log cabins we built ourselves. Oh, and when Mr. Lincoln came to town, we were all aflutter!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giles is often on the receiving end of this, being an older Stuffy Brit librarian among the younger Scoobies.
    Giles: I'll be back in the Middle Ages [section of the library].
    Jenny: Did you ever leave?
  • An episode of Cheers had Cliff write a joke for The Tonight Show to be delivered by Johnny Carson on Doc Severinsen's birthday. The joke is "Doc is so old that on his first birthday, he didn't blow out the candles. They didn't have fire yet." Only Lilith finds it funny.
  • Happened Once per Episode in el Doctor Chapatín. When someone made a comment about his age, the doctor would angrily ask if he is implying that he is old. The man would deny it, just to make a worse comment about his age.
    Something tells me that you are the doctor that healed Cuauhtémoc's feet.
  • One episode of The Drew Carey Show has Drew helping a senior member of the Winfred-Louder board write a speech. Drew suggests throwing in a joke about how the board member has been around for so long that he can remember when they used to greet each other by saying "Hail Caesar!"
  • One episode of Frasier has Daphne's mother Gertrude complain about how people these days drive so recklessly, and how back in her day, everyone's driving was much better. Cue Roz's young daughter Alice innocently asking "Is that because you rode on dinosaurs?"
  • Mama's Family: When Bubba's studying for a history test, he reads that the Southern women were frequently left unprotected during the Civil War. Cue him earnestly sympathizing with his grandmother about how scared she must've been.
  • Midsomer Murders: Barnaby once asks his sergeant how old he thinks Barnaby is. He replies that he's done speed dating, not carbon dating.
  • On an episode of Mock the Week during the 2020 US presidential election, Ed Gamble opined that Joe Biden would be the better president to deal with the COVID crisis because of his previous experience with pandemics: having lived through typhoid and whatever killed the dinosaurs.
  • The Muppet Show: When not making fun of the show, Statler and Waldorf often make fun of how old each other is, like having dated Queen Victoria or gone to school with Shakespeare.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the opening of Space Mutiny, Mike whips out his encyclopedia set from high school so Crow and Tom Servo can research ancient Rome. But the bots instead complain that the encyclopedia is out-of-date:
    Mike: Oh, come on, they're not that old. They're fine.
    Servo: Oh yeah? It mentions the lightbulb as a "charming theory."
    Crow: Yeah! And Congress is spelled with an "f." What is it, Congreff?
    Mike: Well, I used them when I was a kid. They seemed fine then.
    Crow: The periodic table has three elements in it, Mike!
    Servo: There's a volume for the letter epsilon.
    Crow: There's a mailing address for Macchu Pichu.
    Servo: It's got a picture of Stonehenge!
    Mike: So?
    Servo: Under construction?!
  • On The Nanny, Niles occasionally makes these kinds of jokes about C.C. For example:
    C.C.: The world was a different place when I was a girl.
    Niles: Yes, they thought it was flat.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • After meeting an elderly lady, Tom tells Andy to, "Remind me to ask her next time where she was when Lincoln got shot." Andy promptly writes it down.
    • In another episode, April claims that Ann lost her sorority sisters on the Titanic.
  • A common gag in True Jackson, VP with Lulu seeing anyone over 25 as old. Amanda being her normal target like asking if when she went to sleepovers she wasn't afraid that a pterodactyl would take her.
  • Two and a Half Men:
    • When Alan tells Charlie the husband of one of his hookups is at the door, Charlie mentions he should've told him "he was a Civil War veteran."
    • Another episode has Alan dating an older woman, which leads to Charlie making a ton of these jokes at his brother's expense. At one point he describes her as "richer than God. Which she probably knew since he was this tall".
  • In earlier seasons of Vecinos, every time Don Roque made an "in my times..." remark, Pedro comments on his times being hunting woolly mammoths, doing favors for Moctezuma, or something similar.

  • In Private Eye, the elderly journalists Bill Deedes and Alistair Cooke would frequently feature in such jokes (such as Deedes being the editor of Haaretz at the time of Christ's birth).

  • On Just a Minute, it was a Running Gag that host Nicholas Parsons was subjected to these — for context, Parsons hosted nearly every episode of the show from its debut in 1967 (just three months after the station it aired on was launched) until his death at the age of 96 in January 2020, chairing just over 1,000 editions of the show in total once you take into account the various television adaptations, and being absent from just 4 episodes. Such was Parsons' longevity that similar jokes started appearing in other BBC Radio 4 panel games.

    Video Games 
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, while Drake and his older friend Sully (who's in his 50s) are exploring rural France, they come across the ruined remains of an old car from the 1920s, so Drake jokingly tells Sully that it's "your first car". Sully is somehow able to identify the exact year and model of that car.

    Web Original 
  • In the The Annoying Orange TV show, Orange loves making jokes about Grandpa Lemon's age.
    • In "The Day The Store Stood Still" Grandpa Lemon is recounting a story that involves the beginning of the universe, Orange adds "you were in preschool".
    • Subverted in "Founding Fruits" where Orange jokes Grandpa Lemon only knew the history of the fruit version of the American Revolution because he was alive during that time, only to be shocked when Grandpa Lemon reveals he was indeed alive back then and is actually the still living Benjamin Franklemon, making him over 200 years old.
  • Homestar Runner: In episode "Looking Old" Strong Bad has Strong Mad and The Cheat pull on his mask strings to make him look younger. It has the opposite effect when Strong Sad mistakes him for his great grandmother and asks Strong Bad to remind him of "the time the Depression fought Abraham Lincoln naked in your front yard".

    Western Animation 
  • In The Loud House episode "No Spoilers", when Lincoln and his sisters try to throw their mother a surprise party without Leni's involvement (since Leni always spoils the surprise), Luan makes jokes about how old their mom's getting, such as her social security number being 1, and all the guests from her first birthday being extinct. Lori is not amused.
  • From the Muppet Babies (2018) episode, "Animal and the Magic Mummy", when Statler and Waldorf give the babies a tour of the Ancient Egyptian wing of the museum:
    Statler: This Egyptian rabbit toy's over 3,000 years old.
    Waldorf: Like him!
    (Statler and Waldorf laugh.)
  • On The Proud Family, Oscar claims that Suga Mama is so old she survived some of the greatest disasters in the history of mankind: the Hindenburg, the Titanic, the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, and 30 years of The Jeffersons reruns.
  • Recess: When Miss Grotke gives the kids a project to do on ancient civilizations:
    TJ: Ancient civilizations? Like back when Miss Finster was a kid?
    (all the kids burst into laughter)
    Miss Grotke: Actually, TJ, we're going to go back thousands of years, not hundreds. (she starts laughing too)
  • Rugrats subjects Grandpa Lou to a few jokes like this:
    • This joke from "Mirrorland":
      Lou: Antiques, huh! Back in my day, we had no use for antiques!
      Didi: But Pop, I thought back in your day, there were no antiques.
      (Didi giggles)
      Lou: (angrily) Very funny! A fella could bust a gut around here!
    • This joke from "Reptar on Ice"...
      Lou: In my day, dinosaurs didn't skate around with a bunch of ninnies in costumes.
      Stu: (to Didi) In his day, the dinosaurs were real.
  • In one episode of Squirrel Boy, Rodney evidently believes that Bob's childhood was during the time of cavemen.

    Real Life 
  • During the 2008 presidential election, political comedians often made these sort of jokes about John McCain. They became such a meme that McCain made some about himself during an appearance on The Tonight Show.
  • Ronald Reagan also made one of these jokes at his own expense. During the 1992 Republican National Convention, he combined it with the "you're no Jack Kennedy" meme, saying of Bill Clinton, "This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And Governor, you're no Thomas Jefferson."
  • Bulgarian pop singer Lili Ivanova is often said to have been ancient at the time of the Pyramids or Noah's Ark.
  • A variant with Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős, who joked he was "two and a half billion years old" because Earth was two billion years old when he was a child, and four and a half billion years old in his adulthood. His students would ask him what dinosaurs looked like, and he (eventually) came up with the answer "I can't remember — I was already too old by then".
  • Mexican actor Xavier López Rodríguez, better known as Chabelo. He has the record for playing the same character for the longest time, 57 years. So there are a lot of jokes and memes saying that he has been going on even longer. Like how when God created light, Chabelo already had a pending bill. These jokes are so common that whenever a long-lived celebrity dies, Chabelo will be trending in Mexican Twitter saying how "He defeated another rival."