Advice from 1665, from the blog Ask the Past, which was linked today at Metafilter.
Let's try one more. This is "How to Tell Jokes, 1558":
"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."Someone... with an enormous butt is dancing and hopping about... which is actually all we do these days, in case you want to Ask Last Night at the VMAs (go to 1:45).