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:
“A man is washing the car with his son. The son asks, ‘Dad, can’t you just use a sponge?‘“ (6/23)
“Don’t waste a moment of your life trying to be normal” (6/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/23)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from September 18, 2015
“Next time, get a speaking part” (theatre joke)

It’s an old joke that actors seek speaking parts, and that, in marriage, the speaking part often goes to the wife. A typical joke was cited in 1902:

Why did that chorus girl quit?”
“Said she wanted a speaking part.”
“Wonder if she’ll get one.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s going to be married.”


A popular version, cited in print since 1939, involves an actor and his father:

Young Actor: I’ve got a job at last, dad. It’s a new play, and I’m a man who has been married 20 years.
Father: Splendid. That’s a start, anyway, my boy. Maybe one of these days they’ll give you a speaking part.


The joke is often told in the 2000s about Jewish mothers and fathers, but it was not originally a Jewish joke. 


4 January 1902, Riverside (CA) Morning Enterprise, pg. 3, col. 3:
“Why did that chorus girl quit?” “Said she wanted a speaking part.” “Wonder if she’ll get one.” “I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s going to be married.”—Maine Central.

11 August 1932, Pinedale (WY) Roundup, pg. 2, col. 6:
From Now On
Chorus Girl—I hear Pauline is getting married next week.
Comedian—Yes, a speaking part at last.—Stray Stories.

Google News Archive
22 March 1939, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, pg. 10, col. 6:
Live and Hope
From Honolulu Advertiser.
Young Actor: I’ve got a job at last, dad. It’s a new play, and I’m a man who has been married 20 years.
Father: Splendid. That’s a start, anyway, my boy. Maybe one of these days they’ll give you a speaking part.

Google Books
Bennett Cerf’s Bumper Crop of Anecdotes and Stories, Mostly Humorous, about the Famous and Near Famous, Volume 1
By Bennett Cerf
Garden City, NY: Garden City Books
1956
Pg. 204:
The husband whose son, a freshman in college, reported, “I’ve landed my first part in a varsity show. I play a man who’s been married for twenty years.” “Good work, son,” enthused Father. “Keep this up and first thing you know they’ll be giving you a speaking part.”

Google Books
Braude’s Handbook of Humor for All Occasions
By Jacob Morton Braude
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1958
Pg. 141:
“Dad, guess what? I’ve got my first part in a play,” enthused the budding young actor. “I play the part of a man who’s been married for 25 years.” “That’s a good start, son,” replied his dad. “Just keep at it and one of these days you’ll get a speaking part.”

Google Groups: rec.humor.jewish
MAY-OFFEND: [The Joke List:] Uh, not the joke list…
Tony Zendle
1/24/00
(...)
Sammy comes home crying
“Why are you crying dear” says Mum
“I’ve been given the part of the Jewish Husband in the School Play”
“So whats wrong with that?”
“I wanted a speaking part!”

Google Groups: miami.general
“Too Funny!”
Papa Red
4/28/02
(...)
A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he’s been given a part in the school play. “Wonderful.  What part is it?” The boy says,"I play the part of the Jewish husband.” The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”

The Wall Street Journal
10:48 am ET Sep 18, 2015 BOOKS
Read an Excerpt From ‘Abraham: The World’s First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer’ (by Alan Dershowitz—ed.)
By ALEXANDRA WOLFE
(...)
Although the demand was displeasing to Abraham, he followed it because God told him to do whatever Sarah asked (thus invoking the stereotype of the “henpecked” Jewish husband; there is an old joke about the Jewish kid who tells his mother that he was cast in the role of the Jewish husband in a school play, to which the disappointed mother replies, “I was hoping you would get a speaking part”).

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Friday, September 18, 2015 • Permalink