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 November 07, 2015
“Why don’t Jews drink? It interferes with their suffering”

The Jewish people must love suffering, it’s often said, because they have so much of it. A popular joke is:

Q: Why don’t Jews drink?
A: It interferes with their suffering.


The joke was credited to New York City-born Jewish actor and comedian Milton Berle (1908-2002) in 1996 and to New York-based Jewish comedian Henny Youngman (1906-1998) upon his death in 1998. The exact authorship of the joke is unknown, but it’s been most associated with Youngman.


Wikipedia: Henny Youngman
Henry “Henny” Youngman (original Yiddish surname Yungman; 16 March 1906 – 24 February 1998) was a British-born American comedian and violinist famous for his mastery of the “one-liner”. His best known one-liner was “Take my wife...please”.

In a time when many comedians told elaborate anecdotes, Youngman’s routine consisted of telling simple one-liner jokes, occasionally with interludes of violin playing. These depicted simple, cartoon-like situations, eliminating lengthy build-ups and going straight to the punch line. He was known as “The King of the One Liners”, a title conferred to him by columnist Walter Winchell. A stage performance by Youngman lasted only fifteen to twenty minutes but contained dozens of jokes in rapid-fire succession.

Google Groups: rec.humor
I never heard of a trial separation that didn’t work.
patrick croteau
8/20/96
(...)
504. Jews don’t drink much because it interferes with their suffering.
- Milton Berle

Google News Archive
1 March 1998, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Henny’s last liners” (By the N.Y. Times News Service), pg. 8E, col. 1:
Why don’t Jews drink? It interferes with their suffering.

Google Groups: alt.humor.jewish
suffering
goodson
7/12/99
Q: Why dont jews drink?
A: It interferes with their suffering!

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Humor
By Geoff Tibballs
New York, NY: Carroll & Graf
2000
Pg. 174:
Why don’t Jews drink? - lt interferes with their suffering.

Google Books
Big Little Book of Jewish Wit & Wisdom
By Sally Ann Berk
New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
2000
Pg. ?:
Why don’t Jews drink? It interferes with their suffering. —Henny Youngman

Google Books
The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said
By Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Touchstone
2012
Pg. ?:
787
Jews don’t drink much because it interferes with their suffering.
Milton Berle (1908–2002)

Google Books
Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes
By David Minkoff
London: Portico Books
2013
Pg. ?:
Q: Why don’t Jews drink?
A: It interferes with their suffering.

Twitter
Jewish Comedians
‏@JewishComedians
Henny Youngman: Why don’t Jews drink? It interferes with their suffering. | #Quotes
11:53 PM - 7 Nov 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, November 07, 2015 • Permalink