1001 One-Liners



Short, quick-fire jokes have been popular for centuries. Indeed the world’s oldest surviving joke book, the Philogelos, which was written in Ancient Greek, contains this classic doctor joke:

Patient: “Doctor! When I wake up I’m all dizzy. Then after half an hour I feel fine.”

Doctor: “Well, wait half an hour before waking up.”

Meanwhile in Rome, they had a gag for every occasion, from senate orations and lavish feasts to throwing Christians to the lions. A Cicero stand-up gig was the hottest ticket in town.

Shakespeare readily slipped one-liners into his comedies, while medieval jesters used pithy quips to amuse the royal court, well aware that if the joke backfired and somehow offended the monarch, their next audience might be with the executioner. “Dying on stage” carried a more sinister meaning for comedians in those days.

It’s not hard to see why one-liners remain in vogue with today’s comedians. They are easy to remember, quick to deliver and if one gag dies on its feet, the next is waiting in the wings, hopefully to a better reception. Here is a compilation of the best one-liners around – a heady mix of old and new favourites, Dad jokes, thoughtful musings, corny puns and witty observations, covering a vast range of topics from Families to Fish, Money to Music, Relationships to Religion and Technology to Travel. They can be used to brighten up business conferences where the delegates are as tired as the sandwiches; dinner parties where the conversation is threatening to slide into a discussion about spreadsheets; seemingly interminable Zoom calls; and, of course, speeches at weddings that are so emotional that even the cake is in tiers.

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Ad Lib Publishers Ltd
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