Ambassador and long-time New Yorker Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917) popularized "Call me a cab" in 1901. I think the joke is probably from the late 1800s, possibly from a New York humor magazine such as Puck or Judge or Life..
The Coffee Place's Joke Stack
The Coffee Place's Joke Stack. "Call me a taxi," said the fat man. "Okay," said
the doorman. "You're a taxi, but you look more like a truck to me." ... ...
http://www.thecoffeeplace.com/Jokes/aaaaabjk.html - 2k - Cached - Similar pages
17 November 1901, New York Times, pg. 3:
Mr. Howland added another to the collection of Choate anecdotes the dinner brought forth.
"At a certain drawing room in London," said he, "a guest approached Mr. Choate, who was in the conventional dress of the English waiter, and said, 'Call me a cab.' 'All right,' said Mr. Choate, 'if you wish it. You're a cab.'" [Laughter.]
3 February 1902, Atlanta Constitution, pg. 5:
Brooklyn Eagle: Now that Ambassador Choate has returned from "near the Court of St. James," the following story, among many others about him, is in circulation: A semi-state reception was given at the residence of a certain lord and Mr. Choate, in his "court dress" of plain broadcloth, was inconspicuous in comparison with the gold laced and insignia decorated representative of other countries.
When the nigh was waning one of the departing guests, whose indulgence probably made him forget that English lackeys on such occasions were the livery of their office, approached Mr. CHoate and requested him to call him a cab. The response was a blank stare. Upon his repeating the request: "Won;t you call me a cab, please?" Mr. Choate responded: "Certainly. You're a cab." Imagine the indignation of the insulted Englishman, who, upon making complaint to the host, was asked, as a favor. to point out the offender.
After a search through the crowded saloons the Englishman was quite at the elbow of Mr. Choate when he exclaimed: "That's the man!" The whispered reply, "Why, that's the United States ambassador," was heard by Mr. Choate. Then a presentation and explanation of the unfortunate mistake. Mr. Choate, in his characteristic way, said: "My lord, the gentleman need not fell at all disturbed; I remember the circumstance very well. If the gentleman had been just a little more polite I should have called him a 'hansom cab.'"
American politician who served as a U.S. representative (1831—1834) and senator (1841—1845) from Massachusetts. His son Joseph Hodges Choate (1832—1917) was ambassador to Great Britain (1899—1905
Name: Joseph Hodges Choate
Birth Date: January 24, 1832
Death Date: May 14, 1917
Place of Birth: Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Death: New York, New York, United States
Occupations: lawyer, diplomat
Joseph H. Choate (1832-1917), a diplomat and lawyer, was considered the quintessential New Englander, though much of his life was spent in New York City at the apogee of America's Gilded Age. As a partner in a successful law practice there, Choate was involved in some of the country's most publicized legal cases during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. President William McKinley named him U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in 1899, where he proved himself a skilled diplomat.
Interesting history. I never knew these phrases date all the way back to the turn of the century!