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 May 12, 2012
“I may be fat, but you’re ugly and I can diet”

"I may be fat, but you’re ugly and I can diet” is a humorous saying that’s been printed on gift items such as T-shirts, buttons and coffee mugs. The saying is similar to an older saying (cited in print since at least 1882) often misattributed to Winston Churchill, “I’m drunk, but tomorrow I’ll be sober and you’ll still be ugly.”

“Yes, I am fat, but I can diet—You are ugly!” has been cited in print since at least 1982, when the line was attributed to the actor/director Orson Welles (1915-1985). However, there is no documentary evidence that Welles said the joke.


Google Books
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
By Carole Shaw and Hank Nuwer
Los Angeles, CA: American R.R. Pub. Co.
1982
Pg. 258:
There’s a famous remark attributed to Orson Welles. A man supposedly said to him: “Orson, you’re fat!” The great showman responded: “Yes, I am fat, but I can diet — You are ugly!”

3 June 1986, Fresno (CA) Bee, Lifestyle:
“I may be fat, but you’re ugly, and I can diet.”

13 January 1987, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Stand-up comic learned not to take life too seriously, and she hopes it rubs off” by Herbert J. Vida, Metro, pg. 2:
The minute she becomes famous, Glynis K. McCants, 23, of Seal Beach plans to tell comedian Joan Rivers, “I may be fat, but you’re ugly...and I can diet.”

13 March 1987, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. C1, col. 1:
BUMPERSNICKER OF THE WEEK: This one comes courtesy of Dave Kanner: “I may be fat, but you’re ugly. And I can diet.”

26 May 1989, Charlotte (NC) Observer, “Hey, Hooters, we have to ask: Are you insinuating something?”, Extra, pg. 7D:
... the kitchen from atop a refrigeration chest stuck with bumper stickers ("I’m Fat But You’re Ugly And I Can Diet").

Google Books
Judgments of Responsibility:
A foundation for a theory of social conduct

By Bernard Weiner
New York, NY: Guilford Press
1995
Pg. 46:
A very tasteless bumper sticker appearing in the Los Angeles area reads: “I am fat, you are ugly, I can diet.”

Google Books
Yo’ Mama Is So:
892 insults, comebacks, putdowns and wisecracks about yo’ whole family!

By Hugh Payne
New York, NY: Black Dog
2007
Pg. 216:
I may be fat, but you’re ugly— and I can diet.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, May 12, 2012 • Permalink