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 03, 2015
“What do you think of the musician’s execution?"/"I’m in favor of it.”

A popular joke appeared in 1894 and was reprinted in many newspapers:

“What did you think of my daughter’s execution, Professor?” asked the fond mamma, as her fair daughter pounded on the piano keys. “Think, madam!” was the reply. “Why, that I should like to be present at it.”—Half-Holiday.

The joke usually involves a person at the piano, but other instruments (such as a violin) have also been used. One person asks another what he or she think about performer’s “execution,” and the startling reply is, “I’m in favor of it!” The U.S. School of Music put the joke in print advertisements in the 1950s.

“What do you think of the execution of the team?” (a sports version of the joke) became popular in 1979, when it was atttributed to Tampa Bay Buccaneers football coach John McKay (1923-2001).

[This entry was prepared with research assistance from Garson O’Toole of the Quote Investigator and from Peter Jenson Brown of the Early Sports and Pop Culture History Blog.]


Chronicling America
4 October 1894, Dalles (OR) Daily Chronicle, pg. 4, col. 1:
“What did you think of my daughter’s execution, Professor?” asked the fond mamma, as her fair daughter pounded on the piano keys. “Think, madam!” was the reply. “Why, that I should like to be present at it.”—Half-Holiday.

7 July 1895, New York (NY) Herald, fourth sec., pg. 8, col. 6:
An Executioner.
At the recital.
She—What did you think of her execution?
He—Wonderful! An example of absolute butchery!—Pittsburg Bulletin.

4 January 1897, Jackson (MI) Daily Citizen, pg. 3, col. 2:
His Great Desire.
“What did you think of my daughter’s execution, Professor?” asked the fond mamma, as her fair daughter pounded on the piano keys.

“Think, madam!” was the reply; “why, that I should like to be present at it.”—N. Y. Tribune.

Brooklyn Newsstand
2 July 1904, Brooklyn (NY) Life, pg. 5, col. 2:
Professional Jealousy.
“So you went to Dr. Pedal’s piano recital, eh? Tell me, what do you think of his execution.”
“To be thoroughly frank with you, I think he thoroughly deserved it.”

Google Books
13 February 1907, Punch, or the London Charivari, pg. 113, col. 1:
THE EXTREME PENALTY.
(Two people are talking about a piano player’s performance.—ed.)
She. “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HIS EXECUTION?”
He. “I’M IN FAVOR OF IT.”

Chronicling America
26 July 1914, The Sunday Star (Washington, DC), “As a Musical Critic Mutt Is Severe But Honest” (Mutt and Jeff comic strip) by “Bud” Fisher, pt. 2, pg. 6, col. 2:
Jeff: “OH, JUST PLAYING THE VIOLIN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF MY EXECUTION?”
Mutt: “I’M IN FAVOR OF IT.”

3 August 1916, The Patriot (Harrisburg, PA), “Little Benny’s Notebook,” pg. 6, col. 7:
WILLYUM, I red a good joak today, ma sed to pop after suppir yestidday.

Well then I avize you to keep it a secret, the joaks you dont tell are very funny, sed pop.

O, is that so, sed ma, well jest for that Im going to tell it and make you laff, its about a gerl playing the piano, and one man ses to anuther one, Wat do you think of her enunciation? and the uther man ses, Im in favor of it. . . .

I gess I dident git it ixactly rite, it seems to me perhaps enunciation izent the ixact werd, sed ma. . . .

And ma thawt a wile longer, and then she sed, Execution, thats it, execution, wat do you think of her execution? Im in favor of it, izent that a good joak.

It serteny is, and it was jest as good wen Noah brawt it over in the ark, sed pop.

Do you meen to say youve herd it before? sed ma.

O, not more than 2000 times, sed pop . . .

31 January 1936, Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), “Hollywood Chatter” by Hubbard Keavy, pg. 6, col. 3:
Groucho Marx said he knew a Berlin song that was even worse. He’d forgotten the title, but he knew the words. Chico Marx remembered the music and played while Groucho sang this wartime lament. One line went, “The war makes butchers out of brothers.” After he sang, Groucho asked the audience what they thought of his execution. And, almost in chorus, a dozen voices shouted: “We’re in favor of it.”

Google Books
The 100 Greatest Advertisements:
Who Wrote Them and what They Did

By Julian Lewis Watkins
New York, NY: Dover Publications
1959
Pg. 70:
Then I rose and gave the revolving piano stool a quarter of a turn, just as I had seen an imitator of Paderewski do in a vaudeville sketch.

“What do you think of his execution”? called a voice from the rear.

“We’re in favor of it!” came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.

28 June 1961, State Times Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Short Stories Reported from Capital Scene” by Vernon Louviere (State-Times Washington Bureau), pg. 8C:
He (New York Congressman Emanuel Celler—ed.) tells friends, “When I was a little fellow, I used to play the violin. My father invited Fritz Kreisler in to listen to me play one day and when I finished playing the third movement of the Mendelsohn Violin Concerto my father turned to Kreisler and said, ‘How do you like his execution?’, to which Kreisler replied, ‘I am in favor of it.’”

Google Books
Just Doing It: A History of Advertising:
100 People Who Made Advertising and Our Lives Different

By Pia Elliott
Homeless Boook (homelessbook.it)
2014
Pg. ?:
Then I rose and gave the revolving piano stool a quarter of a turn, just as I had seen an imitator of Paderewski do in a vaudeville sketch.

“What do you think of his execution”? called a voice from the rear. “We’re in favor of it” came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Thursday, September 03, 2015 • Permalink