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 August 23, 2012
“My dad was the town drunk. Usually that’s not so bad, but New York City?”

Henny Youngman (1906-1998), a comedian known as the “king of the one-liners,” grew up in New York City. One of his popular one-liners was:

“My dad was the town drunk. Usually that’s not so bad, but New York City?”

The joke has been credited to Youngman since at least May 1971, when it was included in his book, Henny Youngman’s Greatest One-Liners (1971). An entertainment column in July 1970 contained the joke, but did not credit Youngman and had the slight variation that a “grandather” was the town drunk. It’s only a joke; Henny Youngman’s father was never New York City’s “town drunk.”


13 July 1970, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Earl’s Pearls” by Earl Wilson, pg. 2, col. 6:
TODAY’S BEST LAUGH: A fellow mentioned that his grandfather was known as the town drunk, “but that’s not so bad—until you realize he lived in New York City.”

5 April 1971, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, sec. 1, pg. 12, col. 4:
TODAY’S BEST LAUGH: A man mentioned that his grandfather was once considered the town drunk, “and that’s not so bad, till you realize he lived in New York City.”

23 May 1971, Sunday Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Try Youngman, Just for Fun,” pg. 2E, col. 8:
Henny Youngman’s Greatest One-Liners by Henny Youngman (Trident Press, $4.95)
(...)
“My dad was the town drunk. Sometimes that’s not so bad—but New York City?”

Google News Archive
14 April 1982, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “Night Life: Youngman, Rich At Holiday House” by Lenny Litman, pg. D6, col. 1:
“My dad was the town drunk. A lot of times that’s not so bad—but New York City?”

Google Books
True Confessions
By Jon Winokur
New York, NY: Plume
1992
Pg. 5:
My dad was the town drunk. Usually that’s not so bad, but New York City?
HENNY YOUNGMAN

Google Books
The Little Red Book of New York Wisdom
Edited by Gregg Stebben and Jason Katzman
New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub.
2011
Pg. ?:
My dad was the town drunk. Most of the time that’s not so bad, but New York City?
HENNY YOUNGMAN

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, August 23, 2012 • Permalink