The Funniest Joke Told by 23 U.S. Presidents
The President of the United States is one of the most powerful people in the world—and these quips prove that presidents can sometimes be one of the funnies, too.
James Madison: A jokester to the end
President Madison, our nation’s fourth president, got laughs even on his deathbed with the line, “I always talk better lying down.” You can impress your friends by learning these 50 facts about the 50 states!.
Martin Van Buren: Exit laughing
Van Buren’s presidency was filled with financial, political, and ideological challenges. In 1840, he lost his bid for a second term to William Henry Harrison, failing to carry even his home state (New York). About his disappointing and difficult presidency, Martin Van Buren made no bones about it. “The two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it,” he’s quoted as saying. Did you know Van Buren was the first American-born president? Here are 44 other astonishing facts about our nation’s leaders.
John Tyler: Flirting with popularity
Tyler, the first president to ascend from the office of Vice President upon the death of the elected president, had a way with the witty words. “Popularity may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace,” he said in a message to the House of Representatives in 1816.
Franklin Pierce: A slogan for the win
Our 14th president was little-known until he ran on the catchy slogan, “We Polked You in ’44. We Shall Pierce You in ’52,” a reference to 11th President James K. Polk, a fellow Democrat. It’s often cited as one of the ten winningest presidential campaign slogans.
Abraham Lincoln: This one stinks
Abraham Lincoln has the honor of being named the funniest president by Senator Bob Dole in his Great Presidential Wit (…I Wish I Was In The Book). And one of his funniest lines ever has to be, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” You also won’t want to miss these 14 timeless quotes by Abraham Lincoln.
Ulysses S. Grant: A dry sense of humor
Grant, the 18th American president, once said, “I only know two tunes, one of them is ‘Yankee Doodle’ the other isn’t.” Grant, who served as general and commander of the Union armies during the American Civil War, may have been making a reference to the fact that his life was devoted primarily to our nation.
Chester A. Arthur: The press is doing its job
President Arthur shared this quip at a Republican banquet when dishing about how his ticket won the vote in Indiana, “If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth.”
Theodore Roosevelt: Still true today…
There was no lost love between Theodore Roosevelt and Congress, especially after he famously said, “When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.’” Find out what was banned from the Roosevelt White House (as well as what was banned from the White House by 10 other presidents).
William Howard Taft: Telling it like it is
President Taft was always a “favorite son” in politics, having been appointed to offices by both President McKinley and President Roosevelt. Nevertheless, he felt a great disdain for politics. “Politics, when I am in it, makes me sick,” he said, at once humorously and without the slightest hint of humor.
Woodrow Wilson: A turn of a phrase
President Wilson was a wonderful speaker and knew exactly how to lob a barb without sounding petty. A great example of this was when he spoke to the World’s Salesmanship Congress in 1916. Regarding his relationship with Republicans, he quipped, “I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something.” Did you know that Woodrow Wilson kept White House landscaping costs down by bringing in a flock of sheep? He’s not the only president to have kept some surprising pets.