By Jessica Snow,
P.O.V. Contributing Writer
Why did the chicken cross the road? Have you ever wondered if there was one right solution to that classic riddle? I always remember replying with whatever line I could come back with off the top of my head. Well, the solution is as simple as the riddle itself. The chicken did just want to get to the other side.
It's first appearance in 1847 was published in The Knickerbocker, a publication out of New York City. “…There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet there are none. Of such is this: “Why does the chicken cross the street?” Are you ‘out of town?’ Do you ‘give it up?’ Well, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!” Who knew this joke had so many years behind it?
This riddle is an ideal example of anti-humor which is defined as “a type of comedy in which the uses is a set up to expect a typical joke setup, however the joke ends with such anti-climax that it becomes funny in its own right. The lack of punch line is the punch line.”
Recalling this riddle as a child, I thought to myself it was pointless childhood humor. As an adult it’s interesting to research the history behind something that has been around as long as I can remember.
The joke has been remade, changed and reinvented over the 100 plus years it’s been around. You’ve heard the joke a million times, but now you know the history behind it. Next time you’re asked, pass this little piece of knowledge on to them.