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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. Contrast While You Were in Diapers, its polar opposite when the older character diminishes the younger one.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • In a Duracell battery commercial featuring the Puttermans, Herb and Flo remind their children, Trish and Zack not to get their grandmother too excited, as she's probably a bit weak. Before finding out that she's still going strong and dancing to mambo music, this exchange occurs between Trish and Zack:
    Trish: She has been running on the same Duracell batteries since...
    Zack: The ice age? (laughs)

    Comedy 
  • On his album Wonderfulness, Bill Cosby told a story about his I Spy boss Sheldon Leonard and his wife on their honeymoon. He made a point of remarking that this was a long time ago, "probably before there was hair."

    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!"
    Riley: (under his breath) You ain't that young either.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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, the Korean War), a not unreasonable question given their ages... and then he follows with "North or South?"

    Jokes 
  • A staple of Your Mom Jokes.
    Yo mama so old she was a waitress at the Last Supper.
    Yo mamas so old she sat next to Ben Franklin in kindergarten.
    Yo Mammaís so old she stripped at Abraham Lincolnís bachelor party.
    Yo mammaís so old she dated George Washington in high school.
    Yo mama so old, she once called Christopher Columbus and sold him a cruise to America.
    Yo mama so old, she was friends with Kushim.
  • There is a joke in Finnish that doesn't translate to English directly. A man bought a car, and he bragged that it used to belong to a big celebrity, because the person who sold it told him it's Jesus's old car (Jeesuksen vanha), which in Finnish also literally means "as old as Jesus".

    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.
  • Charlie Brooker's "Death to 2020" makes this a Running Gag about President Biden, with Queen Elizabeth II remembering him attending her coronation in 1953 "as an old man", and the narration introducing him as a hero of the US Civil War.
  • 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?"
  • I Love Lucy: Ethel loves to crack this sort of joke about Fred. There's some Reality Subtext here, too, as Vivian Vance despised working with William Frawley and often complained "He should be playing my father, not my husband" (she was 22 years his junior).
    Fred: What do you need a new lamp for? Abraham Lincoln read by candlelight.
    Ethel: Stop dragging your boyhood friends into this, Fred.
  • 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.
  • Mock the Week:
    • Bruce Forsyth was subjected to quite a few of these up until his death in 2017.
      Rob Beckett: On today's show we'll be talking about the Jurassic period, where only dinosaurs and Bruce Forsyth roamed the Earth. [audience laughs] He's old, innee?
    • On an episode 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.
  • Modern Family: In one episode, Alex goes to a therapist after having a breakdown about studying for a test. She asks the therapist if they had such a test when he was in school. Or Asian kids. He says no, but jokes that he did have other things to worry about, such as The Spanish Inquisition, sailing off the edge of the world, and understanding fire.
  • 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?!
  • 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.
    • Fran occasionally sarcastically use this sort of joke on herself, especially when one of the kids makes an Innocently Insensitive comment about her age. Maggie once plans a party with a retro disco theme and asked Fran if she could borrow some of her clothes "from the olden days"; Fran snarks "No, they lost my luggage when I transferred from the Pinta to the Santa Maria."
  • 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.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: Ru Paul's age is a very common target for gags, particularly during "roast" challenges, and Ru herself is fully onto the joke (despite being "only" in her 60s as of 2023):
    [Season 5, Episode 7]
    Alaska: RuPaul is so old that her colostomy bag is made of wood.
    [Season 13, Episode 12]
    Kandy Muse: RuPaul is so old, I told her to act her age, bitch, she died.
  • 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.
  • The West Wing:
    • In the season two episode "The Drop In", when Leo is trying to get President Bartlet to approve a missile shield and he and Mrs. Landingham, the President's secretary, engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat about it:
      Mrs. Landingham: You're testing that preposterous contraption again.
      Leo: It's not preposterous, it's not a contraption, and mind your own business.
      Mrs. Landingham: In my day, we knew how to take care of ourselves.
      Leo: Well, in your day, you could pretty much turn back the Indians with a Daniel Boone musket, couldn't you?
      Mrs. Landingham: Ah, sarcasm, the grumpy man's wit.
      Leo: Sharpen a pencil, would ya?
    • In "And It's Surely To Their Credit," President Bartlet struggles with recording his weekly Saturday morning radio address to the nation. When it's time for the fifth take, he tries to crack a joke, and a Sarcasm-Blind Donna inadvertently triggers one of these:
      Bartlet: Five's my lucky number! "Fifth-Take Bartlet"—that's what Jack Warner used to call me.
      Donna: Did you really know Jack Warner, Mr. President?

    Magazines 
  • In Private Eye, 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).

    Music 

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House: In "Grandma Flutter's 100th Birthday", after Tutter informs his friends about his grandmother's 100th birthday, Pip and Pop ask Bear if when Grandma Flutter was as young as Baby Blotter, Tutter's baby cousin, there were still dinosaurs walking the Earth. Bear tells them "Wellllllll... no."
  • Lamb Chop's Play-Along: Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse, and Hush Puppy sometimes joke about Shari's age in this way. For example, in one episode, Shari tells Hush Puppy the story of William Tell, and when she mentions that it took place in the 14th century, Hush Puppy remarks "You were probably there."
  • 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.

    Radio 
  • 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.
  • The Now Show:
    • In a 2008 episode, introducing Barry Cryer as the guest stand-up because new, young comedians all have their own stuff going on, they call him "the man who showed Lord Reith where the photocopier was".
    • Following Joe Biden's trip to Belfast to commemorate 25 years since the end of The Troubles, they explained that he was a senator at the time of the Good Friday Agreement ... and a junior congressman at the time of Good Friday.
    • And the following week: "Of course, Ireland has changed a lot since Biden first visited. Due to plate tectonics, it's no longer connected to Europe."
  • In Series 79 Episode 1 of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, discussing Mary Berry starting her baking career in France (true), Jack Dee claims she got the idea when she heard Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake".

    Video Games 
  • In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Cranky villagers (who are portrayed as being slightly older than other villager types) will occasionally joke about whether they'd recognize any fossils the player dug up from "back in the day."
  • In the first Pajama Sam game, Sam can meet an old grandfather clock and can converse with him and ask about how old he is. The first time he asks if there was television when he was made, with the clock replying that no. The second time he asks if there were any cars. The clock says that he's pretty sure there weren't any cars either. The third time...
    Sam: What about wheels? Where there any wheels when you were made?
    Clock: That's not funny. Of course there were wheels! How else would I have gotten all these gears inside?
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • In this Something*Positive strip, Pamjee comments "The problems of twenty-somethings have changed drastically since I was young" in response to her employee Ira's drama. He retorts "Yeah, but y'all were dealing with the industrial revolution, so it evens out."

    Web Animation 
  • 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".
  • Hunter: The Parenting: After Big D claims that he and his father killed a Methuselah vampire in the 90s, Kevin asks if he meant the 1890s. Big D just chuckles.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer, with his usual brand of mixing obscure trivia into his insults, mocks an older, retired spy:
    Spy: You know, I used to be a spy just like you.
    Archer: Oh, who'd you spy for? The Etruscans?
  • 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 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.
  • The Simpsons: Grandpa Simpson and Mr. Burns were originally written as World War II veterans, as many grandfathers were in the early '90s. Despite the series' use of Comic-Book Time, their status as WWII veterans, as well as Skinner's status as a Vietnam vet in his '40s, has never changed. As such, many of their backstory details cannot be reconciled with their ages and the longer the show goes on the more they are played for humor.
  • In one episode of Squirrel Boy, Rodney evidently believes that Bob's childhood was during the time of cavemen.
  • TUGS: In the episode "Quarantine", a heatwave hits the harbour, with O.J. commenting on it, followed by a sarcastic remark from Top Hat when the former's engine starts acting up.
    O.J.: It's the longest heatwave I can remember.
    Top Hat: And you go back to the Ice Age, O.J., by the sound of your engine.
  • In the cartoon, Hare Trimmed, Yosemite Sam, posing as a suitor for Granny after finding out she inherited a fortune, starts chasing her all over her house. She just giggles as she exclaims, "Land sake! Nothing like this has happened to me since the boys got back from Gettysburg!"

    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 held the record for playing the same character for the time, 57 years until his death in March 2023. So there were 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, or how Noah's Ark was built by Chabelo's long-standing promoter Troncoso Furniture. These jokes were so common that whenever a long-lived celebrity died, Chabelo would be trending on Mexican Twitter saying how "He defeated another rival" with the last one before his own death being Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Dick Clark was subject to a lot of these in his later years, including one where he told the M&Ms that he couldn't be their sponsor for the year 2000 (MM in Roman numerals) because he had been the millennial celebrity sponsor of the previous millennium.
  • Queen Elizabeth II and actress Betty White were often subjects of these jokes before their deaths.
  • Philippine senator Juan Ponce Enrile (aged 99 as of 2023) has been variously claimed to have been around during the Big Bang, planted the apple tree in the Garden of Eden, washed the dishes of the Last Supper, walked across Pangea on foot, inspired Philippine hero Apolinario Mabini, and was somehow responsible for Hydra from Captain America. Yes, we're not making that stuff up.

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