It happened once upon a time that the governor of a certain province heard of the fabled wisdom of Mullah Nasruddin, and he thought it would be amusing to put the reputation of this famous person to the test. “I will invite him to dinner and give him a puzzle that will tangle his turban. If he turns out to be truly wise, very good,” the governor said to himself, “but if his wisdom is just hot air, then his discomfort will be my evening’s entertainment.”
On the appointed day, Nasruddin arrived at the palace, and was shown into the hall, where the governor sat surrounded by a fifteen or twenty well dressed gentlemen, all sitting at their ease. “Mullah,” the governor said, “one of these gentlemen is a dinner guest, like yourself. The others are merely servants. You are said to be wise – can you tell which is the guest?”
Nasruddin glanced briefly at the men sitting around the room. As one might expect, they were similarly dressed, and there were no obvious signs to tell them apart.
“Yes, excellency,” said the Mullah, “certainly I can tell. But to lighten the atmosphere, perhaps you would first indulge us by telling a humorous story.”
The governor, who was vain as a peacock and in fact had a great liking for his own wit, was glad to oblige. When he had finished his tale, Nasruddin pointed to one of the men, and said, “This is the guest. The rest are your servants.”
The guest, impressed, stood up and bowed to the Mullah. The astonished governor said, “But how did you know?”
Nasruddin said, “Excellency, the story was perhaps not your funniest, but all the servants laughed heartily. Your guest merely smiled politely.”