How to Tell Jokes, 1558

engraving of Giovanni della Casa grimacing Giovanni della Casa finds your jokes wearisome.
(Portrait by Wenceslas Hollar)

Where your pleasantries are not rewarded with the laughter of listeners, cease and desist from telling jokes in the future. The defect is in you, not in your listeners… For these are movements of the mind, and if they are pleasant and lively, they are an indication and a testimonial of the nimble mind and the good habits of the speaker– this is particularly liked by other men and endears us to them. But if they are without grace and charm, they have the contrary effect, so it appears a jackass is joking, or that someone very fat with an enormous butt is dancing and hopping about in a tight-fitting vest.

Giovanni della Casa, Il Galateo overo de’ costumi (trans. M. F. Rusnak)

Giovanni della Casa: skilled diplomat, astute social critic, fearsome heckler at Renaissance comedy clubs.