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:
“Can you buy an entire chess set in a pawn shop?” (5/23)
“I passed my physical exam! But I only got a C in Hepatitis” (5/23)
“I like to play chess with old men in the park…although it’s hard to find 32 of them” (5/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/23)
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 August 20, 2016
“What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?” (riddle)

A popular viola riddle is:

Q: What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?
A: The coffin has the corpse on the inside.


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1993.


Google Groups: rec.arts.marching.misc
Lots of Music Jokes
R.Vince...@um.cc.umich.edu
6/21/93
(...)
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?
The coffin has the dead guy on the inside.  [JCB]

Google Groups: rec.music.classical
Classical Music Jokes
Robert Bratulic
2/14/94
(...)
What’s the difference between a coffin and a viola?
The dead man is inside the coffin.

31 March 1994, New York (NY) Times, “Offstage With: Cynthia Phelps; Playing the Tune and Calling It, Too” by James R. Oestreich, pg. C1, col. 3:
Or perhaps it comes from the fact that her instrument gets no respect. At a time when excellent young violists seem to be everywhere, viola jokes (What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin? The coffin has the corpse on the inside.) have made their way from orchestral circles to a broader musical public.

Google Groups: rec.music.classical.performing
Viola Jokes
Pete
4/6/95
(...)
What’s the difference between a Viola and a coffin?
The coffin has the corpse inside.

Google Groups: rec.humor
canonical list of viola jokes
John Casten
5/31/95
(...)
What’s the difference between a Viola and a coffin?
With a coffin the dead person is inside.

Google Books
A Prairie Home Companion
Pretty Good Joke Book (3rd Edition)

By Brian Becker
Minneapolis, MN: HighBridge
2003
Pg. 186:
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?
The coffin has the dead person on the inside.

Google Books
The Ultimate Book of Jokes:
The Essential Collection of More Than 1,500 Jokes

By Scott McNeely
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
2011
Pg. 151:
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin?
The coffin has a dead person on the inside.

Google Books
Killing Yourself to Survive:
Stories

By David Corbett
Open Road Media (MysteriousPress.com)
2012
Pg. ?:
What is the difference between a coffin and a viola? With a coffin, the corpse is on the inside.

Twitter
John Brookfield
‏@MeltHell
What’s the difference between a viola and a coffin? The coffin has the dead person on the inside. http://fxmb.info/M4lNCJ #jokes
10:06 PM - 20 Aug 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Saturday, August 20, 2016 • Permalink