Which is your favorite joke in this article about humor during the Civil War? Mine is the title “An ‘Off-Hand’ Joke” for an amputation-humor pamphlet. It seems humor was widespread during the war, with Abraham Lincoln routinely being criticized for making jokes “too soon.” And the popular method for spreading jokes sounds kind of familiar:
Newspapers passed along much of the humor, often overseen by dedicated “funny editors,” who filled their pages with war-themed jokes. They “scissored” puns and anecdotes from other publications and passed them off as their own. The best bits went viral, popping up from North Carolina to South Dakota.
Replace “newspapers” with “the Internet,” “funny editors” with “anyone with a Facebook page,” and “scissored” with “reblogged” and you have pretty much exactly how things work today. The more things change, etc.