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 July 20, 2012
“Get me a table near a waiter” (restaurant joke)

The comedian Henny Youngman (1906-1998) was a longtime member of New York Friars Club. When he walked in to the eating area, he’d always use his familiar line:

“Get me a table near a waiter!”

It’s not known when Youngman first used the joke; after Youngman’s death in 1998, it was said that Youngman had used the line at the Friars Club “every day for 50 years.” The actor Gary Cooper—not known for his comedy—was recorded in a 1949 Hollywood gossip column for telling a headwaiter “A table near a waiter, please.” A 1951 comic strip used “We want a table near a waiter!” as a gag line.


Wikipedia: Henny Youngman
Henry “Henny” Youngman (originally German surname Junggman) (March 16, 1906 – February 24, 1998) was a British-American comedian and violinist famous for “one-liners”, short, simple jokes usually delivered rapid-fire. His best known one-liner was “Take my wife—please.”

Google News Archive
9 June 1949, Cape Girardeau (MO) Southeast Missourian, “Hollywood Talk of Movies, Stars” by Erskine Johnson (NEA), pg. 11, col. 4:
Gary Cooper, in a hurry at Ciro’s, telling a headwaiter: “A table near a waiter, please.”

14 September 1951, Times-News (Twins Falls, ID), “Carnival” comic strip by Dick Turner, pg. 9, col. 2:
“We want a table near a waiter!”
(Said by a young couple upon entering a restaurant—ed.)

17 October 1963, Seattle (WA) Times, “Seventeen” comic strip by Bernard Lansky, pg. 47, col. 5:
“We’d like a table near a waiter!”
(Said by a young couple upon entering a restaurant—ed.)

Google News Archive
16 December 1975, St. Joseph (MO) Gazette, “Traveling clown” by Earl Wilson, pg. 4A, col. 3:
Chuckling his way into a restaurant he (Henny Youngman—ed.) says, “Can I get a table near a waiter?”

2 July 1978, Palm Beach (FL) Post, “My Favorite Jokes” by Henny Youngman, Parade magazine, pg. 19, col. 2:
When you go to a restaurant, always ask for a table near a waiter.

29 March 1991, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Youngman at heart After 60 years of jokes, Henny is happy to shoot from the quip” by Howard Reich, Tempo, pg. 3:
“I walk into a restaurant and say, ‘Waiter, get me a table near a waiter,’ and everybody dies laughing.”

New York (NY) Daily News
‘God, Take Henny, Please’ Youngman Service A Tears-and-laugh Rite
BY LARRY SUTTON
Saturday, February 28, 1998
(...)
“Every day for 50 years, Henny would walk into the Friars Club and say: “Get me a table near a waiter,” recalled King.

“And every day for 50 years, I tried not to laugh. But I laughed.”

NY1.com
05/01/2006 06:20 PM
One On 1: Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman
By: NY1 News
(...)
“Henny [Youngman] was interesting,” Roman continues. “He would come in every day for lunch and sit at the front table by the entrance to the dining room, and his opening line was, ‘I want a table near a waiter.’”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • (0) Comments • Friday, July 20, 2012 • Permalink