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.

Recent entries:
“Give me all your money or you’re geography!” (bank robbery joke) (6/24)
“A tragedy is a ship full of bankers sinking. A catastrophe is when they can all swim” (6/24)
“You said you had between ten and fifteen million dollars in the bank” (joke) (6/24)
“Cell phones keep getting thinner and smarter…people the opposite” (6/24)
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression, first make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes” (6/24)
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Entry from April 19, 2016
“How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” (lawyer joke)

The “lightbulb joke” has a version that involves lawyers:

Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: It depends on how many you can afford.


This joke has been cited in print since at least 1979, when it was one of the entries in a “Light Up Your Life Joke Contest” in the Village Voice (New York, NY). There are many other punchlines.


Wikipedia: Lightbulb joke
A lightbulb joke is a joke that asks how many people of a certain group are needed to change, replace, or screw in a light bulb. Generally, the punch line answer highlights a stereotype of the target group. There are numerous versions of the lightbulb joke satirizing a wide range of cultures, beliefs and occupations.

Early versions of the joke, popular in the late 1960s and the 1970s, were used to insult the intelligence of Poles ("Polish jokes").

7 November 1979, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), Mary Strassmeyer column, pg. 5-A, col. 4:
SMith (Howard Smith of the Village Voice—ed.) is also conducting a Scenes “Light Up Your Life Joke Contest,” and he and his friends have come up with these entries so far:
(...)
. How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb? It depends on how many you can afford.

29 October 1981, Washington (DC) Post, “Bob Levey’s Washington,” pg. DC10, col. 3:
Legal laughter from Tim Robinson, the editor-in-chief of the National Law Journal:

Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: How many can you afford?

19 November 1983, Washington (DC) Post, pg. A15, col. 1:
Light Bulbs, Lawyers...
I am quite surprised that Daniel White, the author of “The Official Lawyers handbook,” doesn’t know how many lawyers it takes to change a light bulb [Style, Nov. 9].

The answer is, of course, three: two to argue the question of whether the bulb is permanently burned-out or is only temporarily disabled by being turned-off, and the third to judge the issue, based on whether the public is currently favoring darkness or light.
-- B. Freer Freeman

Google Books
How the Platform Professionals Keep ‘em Laughin’
By James Blakely
Houston, TX: Rich Publishing Company
1987
Pg. 191:
Q. How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. How many can you afford?

1 March 1987, Minneapolis (MN) Star and Tribune, “Sweat Equity: The time you invest in home improvements pays big dividends” by Anthony Carideo, pg. 6SM:
Question: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Two. One to mix the martinis, the other to call the electrician.

Google Books
The Big Book of New American Humor:
The Best of the Past 25 Years

By William Novak and Moshe Waldoks
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
1990
Pg. 243:
How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
How many can you afford?

Google News Archive
12 June 1992, Prescott (AZ) Courier, “Two lawyers are sitting at the bar...” by Larry McShane (AP), pg. 8A, col. 1:
Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: How many can you afford?

James Fuqua’s Law Jokes (May 24, 2001)
Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A1: How many can you afford?

A2: None, lawyers only screw us.

A3: It only takes one lawyer to change your light bulb to his light bulb.

A4: Three. One to do it and two to sue him for malpractice.
(...)
A8: You won’t find a lawyer who can change a light bulb. Now, if you’re looking for a lawyer to screw a light bulb…

Google Books
World’s Best Professional Jokes
By Clifford Sawhney
New Delhi: Pustak Mahal
2004
Pg. ?:
How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
“How many can you afford?”
Two. One to change it and one to keep interrupting by standing up and shouting “Objection!”
Three. One to do it and two to sue him for malpractice.

Google Books
Man Walks into a Bar:
Over 6,000 of the Most Hilarious Jokes, Funniest Gut-Busting One-Liners

By Stephen Arnott, Mike Haskins
Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press
2007
Pg. 257:
How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
How many can you afford?

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of One-Liners
By Geoff Tibballs
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
2012
Pg. ?:
How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
How many can you afford?

Google Books
The Art of the Perfect Defense:
Your Essential Guide to Criminal Defense in Los Angeles

By Ronald D. Hedding, Esq.
eBookIt.com
2015
Pg. 5:
Question: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: One to change it and two to keep interrupting by shouting “objection!”

Google Books
Introduction to Paralegalism:
Perspectives, Problems and Skills

By William P. Statsky
Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
2016
Pg. 758:
Question: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer. Three senior partners to contemplate the history of light; two junior partners to check for conflicts of interest; ten associates to do the research on the antitrust implications of using a particular brand, on the cost-benefits of using electric lighting versus candle light, on the health aspects of incandescent versus fluorescent bulb lighting, on the electric components hat make light bulbs work, etc. And, of course, a paralegal to insert the bulb into the socket!

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, April 19, 2016 • Permalink