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 December 21, 2010
“A committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours”

"A committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours” is an old joke that plays upon the word “minutes” (a written record and a unit of time). The joke first appeared in London Tit-bits in 1934 and was reprinted in many newspapers that year.


6 April 1934, Christian Science Monitor, pg. 15:
Small Boy—Father, what’s a committee?
Father—A committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours!—London Tit-Bits.

3 May 1934, Cambridge City (IN) Tribune, pg. 11, col. 2:
Now It Can Be Told
Small Boy—Father, what’s a committee?
Father—A committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours!—London Tit-bits.

7 July 1934, Wall Street Journal, “Pepper and Salt”:
Committee: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Google News Archive
26 December 1934, Montreal (Quebec) Gazette, “A Little Nonsense,” pg. 8, col. 7:
“Mother, where has father gone?”
“He’s gone to town to attend a committee meeting.”
“What’s a committee?
“A committee is a body that keeps minutes an wastes hours.”

25 April 1937, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pt. 1, pg. 16:
A committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours—Exchange.

5 September 1940, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. 20:
Committee: A group of women that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Google Books
12 July 1954, Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, “A Collectiong of 20th Century Sayings” by Hal Boyle, pg. 4, col. 3:
“A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours”—Milton Berle.

Google Books
1,001 logical laws, accurate axioms, profound principles, trusty truisms, homey homilies, colorful corollaries, quotable quotes, and rambunctious ruminations for all walks of life
By John Peers and Gordon Bennett
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1979
Pg. 95:
McFadden’s Truism:
A committee is a group that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 21, 2010 • Permalink