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Anti-Joke Chicken is an image macro series featuring an image of a hen accompanied by a top line of text that sounds like the introduction of a joke, but the bottom line provides an unexpected anticlimax. The chicken is centered within a typical advice animal starburst background.
Anti-humor existed well before the Internet was invented. While anti-humor comes in many forms, one of the most common is the one used in this meme: a joke-like setup followed by a non-punchline. This forms a sort of meta-joke in which ironic humor is found in the lack of any standard form of humor. One of the most well-known anti-humor jokes is the classic:
Q:Why did the chicken cross the road?
A:To get to the other side!
Dating back at least to the mid-1800s, this joke contains no inherent humor within the punchline, and is likely a partial inspiration for this meme.
The above is the original photo on which the image macro was based. It was taken by the owner of the hen, professional ophthalmic photographer Marshall E. Tyler, at his home in North Carolina.
A Reddit thread was created on February 20th, 2011 called “It’s the anti-joke chicken!!!!” and linked to an imgur page containing four derivatives. The poster claimed that they found the images on 4chan:
I wish I had created this meme, but I must give credit where credit is due: these images were found deep in the ugly bowels of /b/.
Anti-joke threads have been popular on 4chan for several years, and the earliest 4chan archive thread dates back to June 30th, 2007. The first Anti-Joke Chicken image on Quickmeme was created on February 22nd, 2011.
Search queries for “anti joke chicken” had the first spike in March of 2011.