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 October 26, 2014
“Cheap beer is like having sex in a canoe” (joke)

A classic joke is told about a cheap beer—it’s like having sex (or making love) in a canoe because it’s “fucking close to water.” The joke has been told since at least 1952 and was included in Gershon Legman’s book, Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1975).

The comedy group Monty Python popularized the joke (but didn’t coin it) in the film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982):

“We find your American beer like making love in a canoe. It’s fucking close to water.”

“Non-alcoholic beer is like a porn movie on the radio” is another popular beer joke.


11 July 1952, Anderson (IN) Herald, “Folklore” by William Wade, pg. 4, col. 2:
A brewer evolved a new beer which he wished to give a name. To save the expense of a contest to select a designation for it, which he estimated would be around $60,000, he conceived the idea, being a thrifty man, of bringing his friends to the plant, letting them drink some of it and then offering suggestions.

Finally he brought a man to the brewery widely known for his consumption of the drink and gave him a glass.

The individual quaffed it slowly, rolling the beer critically under his tongue each time he swallowed it.

The brewer gave him another glass, which he did the same way.

“I suggest Canoe Beer as a name for this,” he finally said.

“That’s interesting but how did you come to think of it?” the brewer asked.

“Well, its a long story and I’d rather not tell it,” was the modest reply.

“Well, if I should select that name I would want to know how it was arrived at and some background for promotional purposes,” the brewer said.

‘It’s a long story,” the man said, “but to make it brief, I used to like to go canoeing. In fact I loved canoeing. To me there was nothing more beautiful than drifting along a wooded bank at night with the stars shining and the breeze blowing. In fact I used to lie down in the canoe and look up at the sky. That’s pretty close to water and that’s what this beer is.”

Google Books
Rationale of the Dirty Joke:
An Analysis of Sexual Humor

By Gershon Legman
New York, NY: Grove Press, Inc.
1975
Pg. 157:
A man wins a beer- naming contest with the name “Love in a Canoe” (or “Romance on the Beach"). Asked to explain his choice over a national hookup he says, “It’s fucking close to water.” (d.c. 1952.)

The Internet Movie Database

Quotes

First Bruce: We find your American beer like making love in a canoe. It’s fucking close to water.

Google Books
Fault Lines
By Tim Powers
New York, NY: GuildAmerica Books
1998
Pg. 537:
“Why did you say Coors is like screwing in a canoe?”

“Because it’s fuckin’ near water. Ho ho.”

Google Books
Goat Rope:
A Pilot’s Tale

By Daniel Blore
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, Inc.
2001
Pg. 64:
“Omigod! Not that! Not you! Point beer. That’s like screwing in a canoe.”

“How do you figure?”

“It’s fuckin’ near water. You better stick with your Heinekens or I can get you something better.”

Google Books
Citizen Coors:
A Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics, and Beer

By Dan Baum
New York, NY: Perennial
2001
Pg. 19:
“Colorado Kool-Aid,” people called it, or, less decorously, “like making love in a canoe (fucking near water).

Google Books
Grampa’s Naughty Bedtime Stories
By George F. Loucks
Xlibris Corporation (Xlibris.com)
2002
Pg. 66:
Canadians call American beer, Love in a Canoe because it’s Fuckin’ Near Water.

Google Books
The Big Book O’ Beer:
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Greatest Beverage on Earth

By Duane Swierczynski
Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books
2004
Back cover:
The British, in particular, have had a good old time mocking American beer, starting with the Monty Python joke about why American beer is like having sex in a canoe. (Answer: Because it’s fucking near water.)

Google Books
Shapers of the Great Debate on Conservation:
A Biographical Dictionary

By Rachel White Scheuering
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press
2004
Pg. 104:
Known for the lightness of its flavor, Coors beer picked up nicknames like “Colorado Kool-Aid” and “canoe” beer ("it’s damn near water"), but it made a good match for American tastes at the time, which generally found the bitterness of stronger beers unpleasant.

Urban Dictionary
Fucking close to water
A joke from a Monty Python live show regarding watery American beer.
Monty Python:
“ Frankly over here we find that your American beer is a little like making love in a canoe.
It’s fucking close to water. ”

by Bilbo23 May 31, 2009

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, October 26, 2014 • Permalink