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 September 20, 2015
“People are dying to get in” (cemetery joke)

An old cemetery joke goes:

Q. Why do they build a fence around a graveyard?
A. Because people are just dying to get in.


“As the saying goes, people must be just dying to get in (the cemetery—ed.)” was cited in print in 1903. A fence was added to the first line of the joke by at least 1937.


5 November 1903, Rochester (IN) Weekly Republican, pg. 2, col. 2:
The Marion Leader has an enthusiastic writer who mentions the old Thrallkill cemetery at Sims as a “popular” burying ground. Very likely, and, as the saying goes, people must be just dying to get in it.

25 November 1936, Carroll (IA) Daily Herald, pg. 1, col. 1:
benny sez
we was going by the cemetery yesterday & bosco sez people are just dying to get in that place & i sez yes & people are just dying to buy your farm if you would tell them about it thru the d h w a

28 October 1937, Sheboygan (WI) Press, “And That’s That!” BY W.J.P., sec. 2, pg. 18, col. 3:
This one is making the rounds again:
Q.—Why do they build a fence around a graveyard?
A.—Because people are just dying to get in.

Google Books
June 1940, Boys’ Life, “Think and Grin” edited by Frank Rigney, pg. 51, col. 4:
A Grave Answer
Jim: Why that high fence around that cemetery? Nobody there tries to get out.
Jam: No, but there are some dying to get in.

Google Books
A Time to Laugh;
A Risible Reader by Catholic Writers

By Paul J. Phelan
New York, NY: Longmans, Green
1949
Pg. 5:
Why did they build an iron fence around the cemetery? Because the people were dying to get in.

12 November 1967, Sunday World-Herald, “Mayor Anderson Out=Digs Wise Guys on Grave Issue,” pg. 23-B, col. 2:
When one Councilman started to comment about annexing the cemetery, the Mayor cut him off with:

“Just a minute now, I’ve heard all the wisecracks. One, nobody is going to move out; two, they are dying to get in; three, it won’t affect our population.”

Google Books
Ghostly Giggles
By Ann McGovern
New York, NY: Scholastic Book Services
1972
Pg. 21:
Why do they put a fence around the graveyard?
Because so many people are dying to get in.

Twitter
tallianna
‏@talliannaa
why are there fences around a graveyard? because people are dying to get in
4:02 PM - 19 Sep 2015

WXXI News (Rochester, NY)
September 20, 2015
Tourism Adds Life To Cemeteries
By BRAD SMITH
CORTLAND (AP) Forget the old joke about people dying to get in. Cemeteries are getting more interested in attracting the living.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Sunday, September 20, 2015 • Permalink