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:
“An onion will make you cry, but they never have invented a vegetable that will make you laugh” (11/23)
“Some debts are fun when you’re acquiring them, but none are fun when you’re retiring them” (11/23)
“Facebook is like jail” (joke) (11/22)
“If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them” (11/22)
Road Pirates (police nickname) (11/22)
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Entry from November 23, 2014
“An onion will make you cry, but they never have invented a vegetable that will make you laugh”

Entry in progress—B.P.

11 January 1931, Syracuse (NY) Herald, “Our Friends the Comedians” by William Lyon Phelps, third sec., pg. 2, col. 3:
The other day I was talking with my friend, the theater producer, John Golden; and he suggested to me the idea that the stage comedians never receive their due reward in popular regard. “An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.”

14 January 1932, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 6, col. 5:
COMIC VEGETABLE
NOT YET INVENTED,
GOLDEN REMARKS
Grantland Rice has produced a lot of good radio interviews, but none has been snappier and more interesting than that given last night in the Coca Cola hour, when John Golden, theatrical producer, answered the questions. The gem of the evening came when Golden was asked which was easier to write—tragedy or comedy. He voted for tragedy and remarked:

“An onion will make you cry, but they never have invented a vegetable that will make you laugh.”

18 January 1932, San Diego (CA) Union, “Mewsings of Sergeant Mike” by Hal Johnson, pg. 5, col. 3:
John Golden said last week in a radio interview that “an onion will make you cry, but they never have invented a vegetable that will make you laugh.”

How about spinach? Plenty of pundits have punned it.

1 November 1938, Iowa City (IA) Press-Citizen, “So They Say,” pg. 4, col. 5:
AN onion can make people cry but there has never been a vegetable invented to make people laugh.
-- The late May Irwin, actress.

5 June 1943, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “Lyons Den” by Leonard Lyons, pg. 3, col. 8:
John Golden, the producer, was in Gertrude Lawrence’s dressing room when she was asked by an interviewer: “In your stage roles, Miss Lawrence, do you prefer doing comedy or tragedy?"..."Let me answer that,” Golden interrupted. “An onion will make any person cry. But as yet they haven’t invented a vegetable to make a person laugh.”

12 October 1955, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “Letters to Martha Mason,” pg. 11, col. 1:
An onion can make people cry, but there is yet to be invented a vegetable that can make them laugh.—ANONYMOUS.

6 August 1969, Albuquerque (NM) Tribune “Glad You Asked That!” by Hy Gardner, pg. B-5, col. 3:
Q: Which is more difficult for an actor to do—make people laugh or cry?—Mrs. R. L., Providence.

A: Veteran comedian Jack Pearl (the Baron Munchausen of radio fame), speaks for his craft, I think, when he says, “Even peeling an onion can make people cry—but there’s no vegetable to make them laugh!”

2 January 1974, Post Tribune (Jefferson City, MO), “Glad you asked that: Laugh...or vegetate” by Marilyn and Hy Gardner, pg. 10, col. 1:
Q: A question which has always intrigued me: Which is it easier for a comedian or actor to do—make people laugh or cry?—P. Wellington, Pittsburgh.

A: We think that Jack Pearl, the famous “Baron Munchausen” of the rosy era of radio, summed it up when he said: “You can peel an onion to make your eyes cry. But what vegetable can make you laugh?”

Google Books
You Must Remember This
By Walter Wagner
New York, NY: Putnam
1975
Pg. 175:
I like what Will Rogers said about comedy: “An onion can make people cry, but there’s never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.”

Twitter
Foodimentary
‏@Foodimentary
“An onion can make people cry, now God needs to create a vegetable that makes people laugh."~Will Rogers
3:12 PM - 22 Jun 2011

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, November 23, 2014 • Permalink


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