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 April 04, 2012
“I’m not drinking anymore (but I’m not drinking any less, either)”

"I’m not drinking anymore (any more)—but I’m not drinking any less, either” is a joke that has been attributed to New York City-born comedian Joe E. Lewis (1902-1971), singer and comedian Dean Martin (1917-1995) and comic actor W. C. Fields (1880-1946). All three were known for their drinking jokes.

A form of the joke ("Yes, it’s true he’s not drinking any more, for he was already drinking all he could hold") has been cited in print since at least 1915. The joke has been popularly cited in print since at least 1957, when it was attributed to Dean Martin. However, Martin notoriously used others’ material. Chris Wall’s country song, “I’m Not Drinkin’ Anymore” (1991), used the joke in a song title.


Wikipedia: Joe E. Lewis
Joe E. Lewis (January 12, 1902 – June 4, 1971), born Joseph Klewan in New York City, was an American comedian and singer.

5 April 1915, Portsmouth (OH) Daily Times, “Doc Koko’s Column,” pg. 3, col. 6:
Couldn’t Hold Anymore
Billfuzz—Is it true that Guzzlum is not drinking any more?
Jubb—Yes, it’s true he’s not drinking any more, for he was already drinking all he could hold.

21 November 1957, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Dallas After Dark” by Tony Zoppi, pt. 3, pg. 11, col. 2:
“I’m not drinking any more,” he (Dean Martin—ed.) noted. “However, I’m not drinking any less.”

12 October 1959, Titusville (PA) Herald,"Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 4, col. 2:
In his (Dean Martin—ed.) introductory lines like, “I’m not drinking anymore. On the other hand, I’m not drinking any less,” or “I drink moderately. In fact, I’ve got two cases of Moderately in my dressing room this minute.”

Google News Archive
27 November 1967, Portsmouth (OH) Times, “Ann Landers Answers Your Problems,” pg. 19, col. 5:
To Your Old Houston Buddy Who Not Drinking Any More: From the sound of your letter you are not drinking any less.

New York (NY) Times
EATING FOR PLEASURE
By Josh Greenfield; Josh Greenfield’s most recent book is ‘’The Return of Mr. Hollywood,’’ a novel.
Published: October 6, 1985
IS SALAMI AND EGGS BETTER THAN SEX? Memoirs of a Happy Eater. By Alan King and Mimi Sheraton. 218 pp. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. $15.95.
(...)
There is also a chapter that namedrops drunks featuring in Mr. King’s own pithy words ‘’the one and only’’ Joe E. Lewis: ‘’Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my scotch, I give them Joe E.’s answer: ‘I’m thirsty. I’m not dirty.’ When his doctors told him to stop drinking he said, ‘I know more old drunks than I do old doctors.’ But that night during his act he announced, ‘I’m not drinking any more . . . I’m not drinking any less, either.’ ‘’

Google Books
Yul: the man who would be king:
A memoir of father and son

By Rock Brynner
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1989
Pg. 138:
("Hey Dean, I hear you’re not drinking anymore.” “Well, I’m not drinking any less.")
(Dean Martin—ed.)

Google Books
Me and Bogie:
And other friends and acquaintances from a life in Hollywood and beyond

By Armand Deutsch
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
1991
Pg. 190:
As comedian Joe E. Lewis once said, “I’m not drinking any more. Of course I’m also not drinking any less.”

Google Books
All My Best Friends
By George Burns with David Fisher
Boston, MA: G.K. Hall
1991
Pg. 98:
“Well, George, my dear friend, your source is impeccable. It’s quite true I’m not drinking anymore,” he said. “However, I’m not drinking any less either.” Fields (W. C. Fields—ed.) probably wasn’t the biggest drinker in vaudeville, he just had the biggest reputation.

OCLC WorldCat record
No sweat
Author: Chris Wall
Publisher: Salem, MA : Rykodisc, 1991.
Edition/Format:  Music CD : CD audio : Country music : English
Contents:
Hangin’ out --
Fine line --
Once before I go --
Boots --
No sweat --
Faded blue --
Rodeo cowboy --
I’ll take the whiskey (you take the wheel) --
Better things to do --
I’m not drinkin’ anymore.

4 January 1992, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “The right post-holiday blues,” Life, pg. 4:
Chris Wall: One of the best honky-tonk country singers in Austin, Wall has a knack for writing songs with catchy melodies and clever lyrics, like I’m Not Drinking Any More, (but I’m Not Drinking Any Less).

Google Books
Shaken Not Stirred:
A celebration of the martini

By Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown
New York, NY: HarperCollins
1997
Pg. 67:
One story goes that Burns ran into Fields (W. C. Fields—ed.) after Fields was ordered to go on the wagon. Fields explained: “Well, George, my dear friend, your source is impeccable. It’s quite true I’m not drinking anymore....However, I’m not drinking any less, either.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, April 04, 2012 • Permalink