A Monkey Riding A Dog Has Always Been FunnyPosted: July 8, 2013
There are a few sure things in the world –
- The Sun’s path from east to, over there somewhere.
- An old woman being in the fast lane when you’re late for work.
- A monkey riding a dog will always be funny.
The first three are easily explained. The Sun’s trip, gravity and the old woman are all forces of nature. Physics, string theory and several other things that I don’t have time to sit here and explain to you people all dictate that those things will occur forever.
A monkey riding a dog, that is more complex. Science has not been able to explain why it is funny. But historians and others have documented that the combination has always drawn laughs. Today, I’ve brought four examples to show you that monkeys and dogs have milked this gag since way before YouTube.
Ancient Cave Wall Scenes
The famous paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France contain the first evidence of simians and canines teaming up to entertain humans. Deep in the Lascaux cave is a crude depiction of a monkey wearing a loin cloth, straddling a dog who is running for all he’s worth. In the foreground of that painting are two human figures, on their backs. These are our ancestors, enjoying a belly laugh courtesy of a monkey riding a dog.
The loin cloth in this cave painting is especially significant. It shows that the monkey being clothed has somehow been a factor that magnifies the humor of dog riding since before written history.
Yeah, You Can Spell It Huang, But We Know You’re Saying Wang
I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. The army is amazing isn’t it?
But there are two recent discoveries about the emperor’s army that are becoming more widely known. The first is that there are several hundred terracotta warrior figures that have plant matter on them. Archeologists believe these are the predecessors of today’s Chia Pets.
More to the point, in the area just outside of Qin Shi Huang’s burial chamber, are two clay animal figures. The monkey figure was discovered lying beside a dog. There is a theory that a careless grave robber knocked the monkey off its terracotta dog.
Shakespeare Gets In On The Action
The Globe Theater, where Shakespeare’s plays were first put on, burned down in 1613. That was the year that The Globe produced two Shakespeare plays that were strongly influenced by dogs.
The first, The Show Of Mr. Dogg And Mr. Poneigh, did not have an actual dog in the cast. The second, Villainous Monkey, was a slapstick work centered on the battle between a bumbling sheriff and a spider monkey who robbed travelers and escaped the sheriff by riding off on the back of a sheep dog.
Villainous Monkey, like Dogg and Poneigh, was only performed once. Unfortunately, in the second act of Monkey, on the play’s first night, the dog slid while running on stage and knocked over a footlight.
A fire ensued. Many in the audience perished in that 1613 fire because they were paralyzed with laughter and did not realize that the dog’s slip was not part of the play until it was too late.
Ben Franklin, More Than Just A Discount Store
Ben Franklin. What a guy. Inventor, brewer, scientist, brewer and a huge figure in United States history.
Franklin was known to have a sense of humor, perhaps fueled by beer. He displayed his humor during the Continental Congress of 1774. When he felt tensions were getting too high amongst the delegates, Ben hired a monkey and a dog to run through the halls to lighten the mood. It seemed to work for everyone except Patrick Henry.
Henry was a little high-strung and took offense that Franklin brought the monkey/dog team in without putting it to all the delegates for a vote. To appease Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington arranged Franklin’s appointment to the post of Ambassador to France to keep his hijinks away from the temperamental Henry.
Ben Franklin won over Paris with his wit and charm. He reintroduced singe montant un chien to a French culture who had lost the joy of a monkey riding a dog back in the paleolithic era and had not yet discovered the caves at Lascaux.
It Can’t Be Explained
No one knows why a dog saddled up with a monkey is funny, it just is. But we can see that throughout history the combination has drawn laughs. Monkeys and dogs have teamed up and done very well for themselves performing the same act their ancestors did eons ago.
I waste too much time trying to figure out why things are the way they are. I’m learning to just enjoy what’s put before me. I’ll start by not over thinking monkeys and dogs, beginning now…