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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“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake” (3/26)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (3/26)
“If you are not coffee, chocolate, or bacon, I’m going to need you to go away” (3/26)
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Entry from March 19, 2016
“Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?"/"Because he was sitting on the deck.”

There’s a joke about a deck of cards and a ship’s deck:

Q: Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
A: Because he was sitting on the deck.


“We have lots of singing and reading, but can’t play cards—too many sitting on the deck” was said about a World War I ship in 1918. A Noah’s ark version dates to at least 1928:

Biff: “Why didn’t they play cards in the ark. old top?”
Sniff: “Because Noah was sitting on the deck, old dear.”


A “pirate” version is from at least 2004 and a “sailor” version is from at least 2006.


2 November 1918, Bakersfield (CA) Morning Echo, “Shrapnel,” pg. 7, col. 5:
“We have lots of singing and reading, but can’t play cards—too many sitting on the deck. The boys asked me to sit down; I guess they think I’m rocking the boat.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
3 January 1928, Perry (NY) Record, “The Gimlet” (ad for W. T. Olin & Son), pg. 3, col. 7:
Biff: “Why didn’t they play cards in the ark. old top?”
Sniff: “Because Noah was sitting on the deck, old dear.”

Google News Archive
11 January 1931, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Have a Laugh,” Boys and Girls sec., pg. 5?, col. 5:
“Why didn’t Noah play cards on the Ark?”
“Because his wife was sitting on the deck.”
MYSTERIOUS LADY.
Milwaukee, Wis.

19 May 1931, The Standard (Sikeston, MO), “Some Hot Shots from the Milan Standard,” pg. 9, col. 3:
An eastern wag declares that the reason you can’t play poker on a battleship is because the captain is always sitting on the deck.

11 March 1932, San Diego (CA) Union, “Flapper Filosofy” (cartoon) by Faith Barrows, pt. 2, pg. 4, col. 2:
On a boat they play cards while sitting on the deck.

23 August 1953, The Sunday Star (Washington, DC), “The Cerfboard” by Bennett Cerf, This Week magazine, pg. 4, col. 2:
Q. Why didn’t they play cards on the Ark?
A. Noah was sitting on the deck.

Google Groups: alt.bible.errancy
Bible Trivia
THE BIG PIG
12/6/98
(...)
Why couldn’t they play cards on the ark? (Noah was sitting on the deck)

Google Groups: alt.humor.puns
Kids Puns of the Weak 06-22-04
Stan Kegel
6/22/04
(...)
Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
He was sitting on the deck. (Rosie O’Donnell)

Google Books
Nobody’s Fault:
Surprises from the Earth and the Heart

By Jonathan Pearce
Stockton, CA: Balona Books
2006
Pg. 81:
“You know why the sailors can’t play cards on their boat?”

“Why’s that?”

“The captain is sitting on the deck.”

Twitter
Barb Gilman
‏@BarbInNebraska
Popular Pirate riddle in 3rd grade: Why couldn’t the Pirate play cards? Because he was sitting on the deck!
5:28 PM - 19 Sep 2007

Google Books
April 2008, Boys’ Life, “Think & Grin,” pg. 55, col. 2:
Mike: Why didn’t Noah play cards on the ark?
Bob: No clue.
Mike: He was sitting on the deck.
Kevin Gregory, Hardy, Ark.

Twitter
P I X I E
‏@miniaturemousse
- Why didn’t the sailors play cards?
- Because the captain was sitting on the deck.
10:45 AM - 23 Feb 2009

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of One-Liners
By Geoff Tibballs
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
2012
Why didn’t the sailors play cards?
Because the captain was sitting on the deck.

Google Books
The Bumper Book of Very Silly Jokes
By Macmillan Children’s Books
London: Macmillan Publishers Limited
2013
Pg. 200:
Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
Because he was sitting on the deck

January 2016, Boys’ Life, “Think & Grin,” pg. 52:
Treyson: Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
Marcus:Why?
Treyson: He was sitting on the deck.
Treyson Draper, Riverton, Wyoming

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Saturday, March 19, 2016 • Permalink