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 March 04, 2016
“What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?"/"One less drunk.”

A popular Irish joke is:

Q: What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?
A: There is one less drunk at the wake.


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1966.


Old Fulton NY Post Cards
20 August 1966, The Advocate (Irish-American Weekly Newspaper) (New York, NY), “Letters,” pg. 3, col. 3:
As everyone can imagine, Irish people in New York have been deeply hurt by a July 14th New York Post article written by Larry Merchant. In the article he refers to Irish seven-course dinner as ‘6-packs and boiled potatoes.’ He quotes a statement which notes that ‘the Irish is educated now,’ makes several other derogatory remarks, and closed with a vicious comment on Irish funerals by stating: ‘But as any Irishman will tell you, the difference between and Irish wake and an Irish wedding is that there is one less drunk at the wake.’

7 June 1970, Lowell (MA) Sun, SUN/Day magazine, “Handwriting” by William J. Ryall, pg. 14, col. 5:
Question: “What is the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral?” Answer: “One less drunk.”

Google Books
How a Satirical Editor Became a Yippie Conspirator in Ten Easy Years
By Paul Krassner
New York, NY: Putnam
1971
Pg. 136:
How can you tell the difference between an Irish wedding and a wake? There’s one less drunk at the wake.

22 December 1974, Boston (MA) Globe, “Did Ya’ Hear the One About the Stand-up Comedian? It’s No Joke” by Nathan Cobb, pg. B7, col. 1:
“You know the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake, ladies and gentlemen? One less drunk!”
(Comedian Joe Haller.—ed.)

5 February 1979, The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL), “Anything goes at Redbirds’ Diamond DInner” by Jim Wildrick, pg. 10, col. 4:
From (St. Louis Cardinal broadcaster Jack—ed.) Buck: “Do you know the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake? One less drunk.”

16 March 1986, New York (NY) Times, “Speaking Personally: You don’t have to march on St. Patrick’s Day to be Irish” by Tom Mackin, pg. A27:
‘’There couldn’t be a banquet like this without mention of how much the Irish drink. They say the only difference between an Irish wake and an Irish wedding is that there’s one less drunk at the wake.’’

Google Books
Comedy on Record:
The Complete Critical Discography

By Ronald L. Smith
New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Incorporated
1988
Pg. 339:
“You know the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake? One less Irish drunk.”
(Told by Jimmy Joyce.—ed.)

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Irish Humour
By Aubrey Malone
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
2012
Pg. ?:
The only difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake is one less drunk. Nick Harris

Twitter
Bill Lumbergh
‏@mmmmmmmmyeah
Q: What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake? A: One less drunk.
7:43 PM - 4 Mar 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, March 04, 2016 • Permalink