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The British Library Is Out to Prove That the Victorians Were Actually Funny

Victorians are known for a lot of things—stuffy sensibilities, high-minded tastes, austerity—but a lively sense of humor is not among them. As Atlas Obscura notes, the eponymous Queen Victoria herself reportedly once shut down a racy dinner party joke with a stone cold reply of, “We are not amused."

Edge Hill University lecturer Bob Nicholson and the British Library are looking to change the perception of Victorian humor by enlisting the help of volunteer “joke detectives.” Nicholson will showcase the findings at Harvard University next week.

You can see some of them yourself right now via the Twitter account Victorian Humour and contribute with the hashtag #VictorianJokes. The hunt is mainly occurring via digitized books and newspapers from the library, according to The Telegraph.

"When it comes to humour, our ancestors don’t have a sparkling reputation," Nicholson told the paper. "But far from being humourless, it turns out that the Victorians were prolific joke writers. Some of them, dare I say it, were even quite funny."

Here are a few examples of what the joke detectives have uncovered so far.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
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Pop Culture
Watch Jeopardy! Contestants Bomb Every Single Question in the Football Category
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Jeopardy! contestants may know their word puzzles and 19th-century English literature, but sports aficionados they are not. At least that was the case with the lineup of contestants competing in the game that aired February 1. According to The Daily Dot, the players bombed all five questions in last night’s football category, provoking sassy remarks from Alex Trebek.

After blowing through the rest of the board and leaving the entire “Talkin’ Football” category untouched, contestants reluctantly dove in. The clues, which dealt with popular teams and basic plays, left everyone stumped. After the first clue was met with deafening silence, Trebek could already see how the end of the round would play out. “I can tell you guys are big football fans,” he quipped. His other stinging one-liners included: “Do you think we should go to commercial?” and “If you guys ring in and get this one, I will die.”

Luckily the episode also included some non-sports categories, so the show was able to go on.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
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Design
This Snow Sculpture of a Car Was So Convincing Cops Tried to Write It a Ticket
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.
Photo composite, Mental Floss. Car, ticket, Simon Laprise. Background, iStock.

Winter is a frustrating time to be on the road, but one artist in Montreal has found a way to make the best of it. As CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports, his snow sculpture of a DeLorean DMC-12 was so convincing that even the police were fooled.

Simon Laprise of L.S.D Laprise Simon Designs assembled the prank car using snow outside his home in Montreal. He positioned it so it appeared to be parked along the side of the road, and with the weather Montreal has been having lately, a car buried under snow wasn’t an unusual sight.

A police officer spotted the car and was prepared to write it a ticket before noticing it wasn’t what it seemed. He called in backup to confirm that the car wasn’t a car at all.

Instead of getting mad, the officers shared a good laugh over it. “You made our night hahahahaha :)" they wrote on a fake ticket left on the snow sculpture.

The masterpiece was plowed over the next morning, but you can appreciate Laprise’s handiwork in the photos below.

Snow sculpture.

Snow sculpture of car.

Snow sculpture of car.

Note written in French.

[h/t WGCL-TV]

All images courtesy of Simon Laprise.

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