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 October 27, 2012
“‘Buffet’ is a French word that means ‘get up and get it yourself‘“

“‘Buffet’ is a French word that means ‘get up and get it yourself’” is a humorous one-line saying that has been credited to comedian Greg Ray (also known as “Dr. Babylon") since at least 1996. Reader’s Digest credited it to Ron Dentinger in 1997. A Usenet post in 1997 credited it to Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972), an unlikely source who died 25 years earlier.

Similar jokes include “‘Latte’ is French for ‘you paid too much for that coffee‘“ and “‘Nouvelle cuisine’ is French for ‘not enough food.‘“


Wiktionary: buffet
Etymology 1
French, of unknown origin; compare Italian buffetto; perhaps related to the noun under Etymology 3
Noun
buffet
(plural buffets)
1. A counter or sideboard from which food and drinks are served or may be bought.
2. Food laid out in this way, to which diners serve themselves.

Google Books
That’s Funny!:
A compendium of over 1,000 great jokes from today’s hottest comedians

New York, NY: Cader Books; Kansas City, MO: Andrews and McMeel
1996
Pg. 64:
“Buffet” is a French term. It means get up and get it yourself.—GREG RAY

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 150
1997
Pg. 20:
BUFFET: A French word that means “Get up and get it yourself.”
—Ron Dentinger in Dodgeville, Wis., Chronicle

Google Groups: alt.humor
Keith E. Sullivan
5/22/97
(...)
BUFFET:  A French word that means “Get up and get it yourself.”
--Lester B. Pearson

23 October 1998, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Kup’s Column” by Irv Kupcinet, pg. 42:
“Buffet is a French word. It means get up and get it yourself.”

16 November 1998, The Carillon (Steinbach, Manitoba), pg. 7A, col. 3:
Did you know: Buffet is a French word that means get up and get it yourself!

Google Books
Dick Enberg’s Humorous Quotes for All Occasions:
Speaking Tips and Over 1,000 One-Liners

By Dick Enberg with Brian and Wendy Morgan
Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing
2000
Pg. 14:
Buffet: A French word that means “get up and get it yourself.”
Ron Dentinger

Google Books
Open Your Window of Opportunity
By Robin Goodfellow
Bloomington, IN: iUniverse
2008
Pg. 41:
I heard a clever definition of “buffet” once. Can’t recall who said it. This “buffet” would be the word that comes to mind right around dinner time. The witty definition? “It’s French for get up and get it yourself.”

Not bad advice, actually.

Wholesale Gourmet
Attitude Aprons
Buffet: A French Word That Means “get up and get it yourself!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, October 27, 2012 • Permalink