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:
“My neighbors listen to good music, whether they like it or not” (4/28)
“Why do Mexicans never cross the border in groups of three?"/"Because a sign says ‘No Trespassing.‘“ (4/28)
“What kind of magic does a vegan wizard use?"/"Soycery.” (4/28)
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Entry from February 04, 2015
“Will I be able to play the piano after the operation?” (joke)

A popular piano joke has a patient ask a doctor, “Will I be able to play the piano after the operation?” “Certainly,” the doctor replies. “That’s great! I wan’t able to play the piano before,” the patient admits.

The joke has been cited in print since at least 1909, when the patient involved was an injured baseball player.


21 May 1909, Charleston (SC) Evening Post, “Facts of Interest to Baseball Fans,” pg. 3, col. 4:
Murdock-Artist
Murdock will return to the game today. He would have been in uniform yesterday, but the doctor ordered him to stay out at least another day. Murdy is one player that hates to loaf.

After Murdock’s injury, a blow over the eye, had been dressed by the physician Tuesday afternoon, the Macon player asked:

“Doc, do you think I’ll be able to play the piano now?”

“Why, yes,” was the reply.

“That’s good,” said Murdock, “because I’d never been able to play it before.”—Macon Telegraph.

Chronicling America
27 August 1909, Monett (MO) Times, pg. 6, col. 4:
Operation For The Musical Touch.
A baseball player has two fingers of his right hand pretty badly bunged up in practice, and on his way home from the grounds dropped into a doctor’s office to have it attended to.

“Doctor,” he asked anxiously as he was leaving, “when this paw of mine heals will I be able to play the piano?”

“Certainly you will,” the doctor assured him.

“Well, then, you’re a wonder, Doc. I never could before.”—Everybody’s Magazine.

Chronicling America
8 September 1909, The River Press (Fort Benton, MT), pg. 7, col. 4:
Cheerful News.
Rube Waddell, who sometimes pitches ball, had a finger badly hurt when he was new as a baseball player, and a doctor was called to attend to it. The surgeon was cheerful and insisted that after a little rest the finger would be as good as ever.

“Sure of that?” asked Rube.

“Sure as can be,” said the doctor.

“Will I be able to play the paino?”

“Certainly.”

“I am mighty glad of that,” answered the left hander. “I have tried to play it for ten years and haven’t struck a tune yet.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Google Books
December 1920, Our Young People (St. Francis, WI), pg. 24, col. 1:
A worker had both his thumbs injured the other day, and he applied at the medical department for treatment. As he was having his injured lunch hooks dressed he turned pleadingly to the doctor who was bandaging the hands and said:

“Doctor, do you think I will be able to play the piano when I get well?”

“Certainly you will be able to play the piano,” said the doctor emphatically.

“That’s funny,” remarked the worker. “I never could play one before.”

Piano World
Re: Your best piano joke? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Candywoman
#1741262 - 08/26/11 09:46 PM
An elderly woman is going for an operation on her arm. She asks the doctor,"Will I be able to play the piano after the operation?” The doctor replies,"I don’t see why not.” The woman answers, “I’ve never been able to before.”

CBC (Canada)
Man Plays Guitar While Having Brain Surgery
MAY 27, 2013
In 2006, actor and musician Brad Carter was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that made his hands shake and eyes twitch. The condition made it difficult for him to play guitar.
(...)
Carter made an unusual request: could he play guitar during the procedure to make sure everything was working properly, and to see if the shakiness in his hands was improving?
(...)
Reminds us of the joke, “doc, will I be able to play piano? “Yes” “Well, I couldn’t before!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Wednesday, February 04, 2015 • Permalink