"Joe Miller was a popular comic actor on the London stage from 1709 until his death in 1738. A year later, the publisher T. Read enlisted a down-and-out writer named John Mottley to compile a book of jokes, and stuck Miller’s name onto it. Not only did Joe Miller originate only a handful of the Jests published posthumously under his name; he was apparently illiterate.
The book proved wildly popular, and a series of ever-expanding editions followed: By 1865, there were nearly 1300 jests in the volume. Meanwhile, the late comedian’s name entered the vernacular: A Joe Miller is a groaner, a hackneyed joke."