The Joke that Killed Martin of Aragon

A Killing Joke 

Proceed with caution ...

Since writing about the death of Martin I of Aragon, the king who laughed himself to death after hearing a joke, many people have asked just what this incredibly funny joke was. I didn't want to tell anyone, because that knowledge comes with a great deal of responsibility, but so many people have asked, I have decided to take the risk and let this information be known.

Final Warning. Killer Joke Ahead.

So there he was. Martin I had just eaten a whole goose. This in itself was nothing unusual; he regularly consumed whole geese for his dinner (it's good to be the king), but something about this particular goose didn't agree with him and he suffered from a bout of indigestion.

So he retired to his bedchambers and called for his favorite jester, a gent who went by the name of Borra, to come and cheer him up. I'm assuming it took Borra a little time to get to the king, because when he arrived, King Martin asked him where he'd been. Borra replied:

“In the next vineyard, where I saw a young deer hanging by his tail from a tree, as if someone had so punished him for stealing figs.”
Mule Deer Eating Prickly Pear Fruit (Odocoileus hemionus)

Mule Deer Eating Prickly Pear Fruit via Flickr. (sure it's not a fig, but you get the idea). CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Martin found this joke to be so funny, that he laughed uncontrollably for three hours, eventually falling out of bed. When he hit the floor, he was dead.

That said, this wasn't the first joke that caused a human to die from laughter. Nor was it the first joke that involves animals eating figs that caused a human to die from laughter. You can get all the juicy details about these—and other jokes that kill—at the Death from Laughter Wikipedia page. But please, be careful over there.

The History of Court Jester Fools

by Dr. John Doran

If you're the sort of person who enjoys the ribald humor and tales of court jestery then you can read about this joke from Borra and many other humorous foolish stories in The History of Court Fools by Dr. John Doran.

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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The Joke that Killed Martin of Aragon
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