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 January 27, 2013
“An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did”

"An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did” is a jocular definition of an accountant. “Accountant: A man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did” was cited in print in 1965 and credited to Evan Esar’s “Comic Dictionary.” Comedian Joey Adams (1911-1999) used the joke by at least 1981.


HathiTrust Digital Library
Comic Dictionary (revised and enlarged edition)
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Horizon Press
1951
Pg. 17:
accountant. A man whose business it is to prove that figures can lie.

2 April 1965, The Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica), “Comic Dictionary” by Evan Esar, pg. 14, col. 8:
Accountant
A man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did.

Google Books
Strictly for Laughs
By Joey Adams
New York, NY: A & W Publishers
1981
Pg. 180:
An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did.

15 March 1987, The Sunday Republican (Springfield, MA), “Glad You Asked That!” by Marilyn and Hy Gardner, pg. G-2, col. 4:
IN THESE TAXING TIMES, we offer Joey Adams’ definition of an accountant: “The guy you hire to prove you didn’t make the money you did!”

Google Books
Phillips’ Book of Great Thoughts and Funny Sayings:
A Stupendous Collection of Quotes, Quips, Epigrams, Witticisms, and Humorous Comments

By Bob Phillips
Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House
1993
Pg. 4:
ACCOUNTANT
An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did.

Google Books
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
1995, ©1968
Pg. 5:
An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did.

Google Books
Business Wit & Wisdom
By Richard S. Zera
Washington, DC: Beard Books
2005
Pg. 18:
An accountant is a man hired to explain that you didn’t make the money you did.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Sunday, January 27, 2013 • Permalink