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 June 20, 2017
“How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” (joke)

A “lightbulb joke” involving mystery writers is:

Q: How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two. One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1979.


23 December 1979, Canyon (TX) Sunday News, “How many newspaper editors...” by Carroll Wilson, pg. 2, col. 3:
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Two: One to screw it in almost all the way, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

3 September 1987, The Whig-Standard (Kingston, ON), “The Fourth Protocol and No Way Out: Extra turn of the screw drives thrills home” by David Barber, pg. 1:
“How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” goes one variant of the popular joke series. “Two,” says the answer. “One to screw in the lightbulb and one to give it an interesting little twist at the end.”

Google Groups: 3do.bad-attitude
How many mystery writers?
Kathyzhere
10/31/99
Q: How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Google Books
World’s Best Professional Jokes
By Clifford Sawhney
New Delhi, India: Pustak Mahal
2004
Pg. ?:
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it in almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Twitter
Ian Courchesne‏
@bskinny72
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just one - he’s good at the twist at the end.
11:28 AM - 25 Jul 2009

Twitter
Smart Bitches‏
@SmartBitches
#tweetjoke How many mystery writers does it take to screw in lightblub? Two: one to screw it most of way, & one to give twist at the end.
11:17 AM - 26 Aug 2009

Google Books
A Prairie Home Companion
Pretty Good Joke Book (6th Edition)

Introduced by Garrison Keillor
Prince Frederick, MD: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
2015
Pg. ?:
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in and the other to give it a surprise twist at the end.

Reddit—Jokes
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
submitted December 31, 2016 by Mizz_Wright
Two: one to get it 95% done, and the second to give it the twist at the end.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 • Permalink