Once upon a time, before humor was invented, life was very routine. Oh sure, the villagers broke the rules and were put in stocks or were stoned once in awhile. But life was, well, boring.
There was no laughter. Only the sounds of grunts and groans as the peasants went about their day plowing the fields, reaping the crops, grinding grain into flour, cutting and splitting wood for the ovens to bake bread, and snoring loudly during the night as they replenished their tired bodies.
Over time the peasants grew surly and hard to manage. Their king became worried about a revolt. What would it do to his style of living if he couldn't raise taxes every year? Would the queen think him less of a man if he couldn't control the serfs? What would the royal concubines think if his mind wandered to such pressing matters during the midday royal nap?
One especially gloomy day, a strange-looking fellow approached the village from a far away land. He wore a hat with bells. He opened his mouth wide and made a strange grim mace that he called a "smile." He called himself Slyib.* He told the peasants that he must have an audience with the King. Word got around and eventually Slyib was summoned to the royal court.
The King asked the nature of the stranger's business. Slyib responded with a story. It was absurd. It was strange. It went against everything that the King had ever known or heard of. Slyib told another.
As Slyib began yet another of his unusual anecdotes, the King felt a strange sensation begin in his belly. He tried to suppress it, as it was both disturbing yet somehow satisfying at the same time. He allowed it to continue and build. Suddenly the King could stand it no more. He opened his lips wide, with the ends turning upward, and out roared an explosive sound. The belly laugh was born!
As Slyib finished yet another tale, tears poured from the King's eyes. He continued to experience this weird feeling and make these strange sounds. Laughter, mirth, and fun were found in the kingdom that day.
The King commanded Slyib to remain in the castle as a member of the royal court. He also sent Slyib to visit other kingdoms as a gift to the King's relatives, so that they, too, might experience this amazing feeling.
As the stories were told, and retold, the laughter traveled throughout the kingdom and to far away lands. The laughter spread to the populace, too, which lightened the loads and helped the serfs through their work day. Attitudes changed over time, new stories took the place of old, new jesters were added, and the mirth continues to this very day.
Slyib, you opened our eyes, our mouths, and our hearts. Thank you.
Now tell us another!
* We learned much later that Slyib stood for "Start laughing, you insensitive baboon!"