A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 01, 2015
“A string walks into a bar…” (bar joke)

“A guy walks into a bar...” is a typical form of what has been called the “bar joke.” A popular bar joke involves a string who walks into a bar, but the bartender says that he doesn’t serve strings. Another string comes in, ties himself up, ruffles himself, and then asks for a drink. “Aren’t you a string?” the bartender asks. “No, I’m a frayed knot!” is the reply.

The joke has been cited in print since at least 1985, when it was cited in several newspapers.


17 November 1985, Cumberland (MD) Sunday Times, “Driven to Distraction” by Jim Goldsworthy, pg. A11, col. 5:
“There came a day,” said Ralph, “when two strings were walking down the street and the first string suggested they repair to the bar across the street for a beer.

“The second string told him strings were not served in that place, but the first said they should try anyway.

‘The string asked the bartender—a tape—for a beer, and was told ‘We don’t serve strings in here.’

Then the first string ordered a beer and the bartender asked him ‘Aren’t you a string, too?”

“‘No,” was the reply. ‘I’m a frayed knot.’”

24 November 1985, Aiken (SC) Standard, “As Ashley Cooper Sees the Issues” by Ashley Cooper, pg. 5D, col. 3:
ROD HUDSPETH says that two pieces of string walked into a bar and tried to order a drink. “Aren’t you guys strings?” asked the bartender. They admitted it. “We don’t serve strings!” growled the barkeep.

As they walked out, they met a third string about to enter. “That guy doesn’t serve strings,” one of them told the third string. “Just watch me!” said the third string.

He took both ends of himself, tied a knot and ruffed up the edges. Then he walked into the bar.

“Aren’t you a string?” asked the barkeep. “Frayed knot!” replied our hero. (Groan!)

7 January 1987, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Pun is mightier than the sword” by Angus Lind, pg. E-3, col. 1:
A string walked into a bar one night and ordered a drink. “Get lost!” the bartender cried. “We don’t serve strings here.”

Offended, the string left. Then a second string came in and asked for a drink. “Get lost!” the bartender cried. “We don’t serve strings here.”

As the string was leaving, a third showed up. The second paused to warn him, but the third was very thirsty, so he tied himself into a knot and ruffled his hair before he approached the bar.

When the bartender glared at him and asked, “Are you a string?”, he calmly replied, “No, a frayed knot.”
(From “The 10 Best-Stressed Puns of 1986 by the International Save the Pun Foundation.—ed.)

Los Angeles (CA) Times
CRITIC AT LARGE
Those Tasty Treats: Hot Tossed Puns
February 26, 1987 | CHARLES CHAMPLIN | Times Arts Editor
I regret to say that the International Save the Pun Foundation in Toronto has struck again. John S. Crosbie, who calls himself the foundation’s Chairman of the Bored (a weary and awful pun to begin with), has released his annual compilation of the ending year’s 10 best puns.

It is a curious contest, in which the 10 best and the 10 worst would be regarded as indistinguishable by those who regard the pun as an insidious offense against humor, language and social decorum generally.

What is to be made, for example, of Crosbie’s prime pun, already circulating widely, about the piece of string who enters a bar but realizes that the bar does not serve strings. The string ingeniously bends itself double and ruffles its hair. “You’re a string,” the barkeep says suspiciously. “No, a frayed knot,” the string is able to reply.

Google Books
A Guy Walks Into A Bar...:
501 Bar Jokes, Stories, Anecdotes, Quips, Quotes, Riddles and Wisecracks

By Michael Lewis
New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
2005
Pg. 194:
A string walks into a bar with a few friends and orders a beer. The bartender says, I m sorry, I can get drinks for your friends, but we don t serve strings here. The string walks away a little upset and sits down with his friends.

A few minutes later, he goes back to the bar and orders a beer. The bartender, looking a little exasperated, says, Look, I’m sorry, but I told you that we don’t serve strings here. So the string goes back to his friends.

Then he gets an idea. He ties himself in loops and messes up his ends. He elbows back up to the bar and orders a beer.

The bartender squints at him suspiciously and says, Hey, aren’t you a string?

Nope, I’m a frayed knot, he replies.

Google News Archive
24 November 2005, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch (Lincoln, MT), pg. 7, cols. 3-4:
String Story
This piece of string walks into a bar. The bartender yells, “Hey! We don’t serve string here.” The string tries to order anyway, but the bartender pulls a pair of scissors. So the piece of string runs out the door. Throughout the day, the string is tossed from bars. His ends are coming loose. So, before entering the last bar, the string contorts himself. Nonetheless, the bartender looks at him carefully. “Hey! Are you a piece of string?” Replies the string, “No, I’m a frayed knot.”

Twitter
Mike Spencer-Jones
‏@MikeSJ69
String walks into a bar. Barman “Sorry we don’t serve string in here. Are you a piece of string?”
String “Nope, I’m afraid not”
#oldjokes
Steeple Claydon, England
3:41 PM - 1 Feb 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Sunday, February 01, 2015 • Permalink