Quickest Gag Ever

What’s the fastest gag off the bat in all literature? My money goes on the first line of English Renaissance dramatist Ben Jonson’s classic comedy Volpone:

VOLPONE: Good morning to the day; and next, my gold!

Okay it doesn’t look great written down, but in a good performance it gets a laugh straight away, and paints an instant picture of a miserly man whose first thought on rising from his slumber is his personal wealth.

Can anyone beat that? It has to be either faster or funnier.

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3 responses to “Quickest Gag Ever

  1. Bill Bryson starts the Lost Continent off with: I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. which I have to admit put me off him for a long time as i thought it was such a soft gag… but then I’m feeling it a little more than the Volpone.

    I know it’s immediately off topic but there has to be something quicker than both in film but I can’t see it right now… the start of Manhattan is pretty good, if lengthy:

    “‘Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion.’ Uh, no, make that: ‘He-he…romanticized it all out of proportion. Now… to him… no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.’ Uh, now let me start this over…”) …. (“‘He was as… tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.’ — I love this! — ‘New York was his town. And it always would be.'”)

    the last search led me to The Seventh Seal which is also a killer:

    Who are you?
    I am Death.

  2. Yes, but Jonson gets extra points for being in iambic pentatemeter, surely.

  3. Er I just took a look at Volpone. Before you get to the ‘gag’ there’s a 7 line argument and a 37 line prologue all in rhyme… so it’s not even that quick off the mark. iambic thing or no iambic thing.

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