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 February 01, 2013
“I’m not an alcoholic, alcoholics go to meetings; I’m a drunk, we go to parties”

"I’m not an alcoholic, alcoholics go to meetings; I’m a drunk, we go to parties” is a popular saying on posters. The joke refers indirectly to Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization that holds meetings.

“I’m not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings. I’m a drunk” has been cited in print since at least 1994. The joke is sometimes credited to American comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987); Gleason often joked about alcohol, but there’s no evidence that he ever said “alcoholics go to meetings.”


15 March 1994, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “St. Pat’s already a parade of drunks” by Mike Royko, pg. 3:
As Patrick freely admits, at times he is something of a drunk. Actually, that isn’t accurate. As the old wisecrack goes: “I’m not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings. I’m a drunk.”

Google Books
Slackjaw
By Jim Knipfel
New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam
1999
Pg. 131:
“Would you call yourself an alcoholic?”
Whenever I hear that question, I pull out the old Jackie Gleason line: “No, ma’am, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.”

Democratic Underground
trackfan
Wed Nov-15-06 11:25 AM
16. That’s very close to a quote from Jackie Gleason,
who said something like, “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunkard. The difference is alcoholics go to meetings.”

Windy City Times (Chicago, IL)
Pretzel Logic
by David J. Magdziarz
2005-03-09
(...)
The Non-AA T-Shirt
Slogan printed on a T-shirt for sale in French Quarter gift shops: ‘I’m not an alcoholic. Alcoholics go to meetings. I’m a drunk.’

Google Books
The Ultimate Book of New York Lists:
Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest City on Earth

By Bert Randolph Sugar and C. N. Richardson
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2009
Pg. 137:
MOST POPULAR T-SHIRTS SOLD AT SOUVENIR SHOPS ALONG TIMES SQUARE
I’m Not an Alcoholic/I’m a Drunk/ Alcoholics Go to Meetings

CBS News
November 17, 2011 2:01 PM
Police: Man wearing “I’m a drunk” shirt charged with DWI
By Katie Wiggin
(CBS) MOUNT SINAI, N.Y.—A man wearing a shirt reading, “I’m a drunk,” was arrested and charged with a DWI early Wednesday morning.
(...)
His shirt read in full, “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, February 01, 2013 • Permalink