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 August 19, 2014
“What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis” (joke)

“Raining cats and dogs” is an old expression for a heavy rain. It does not mean a literal rain of animals, but there is a weather joke:

“What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis.”

This popular vaudeville joke has been cited in print since at least 1911. It’s not known who said it first.

“It was raining cats and dogs and I stepped in a poodle” is a related joke.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
to rain cats and dogs: to rain very heavily. Also attrib., raining heavily. Similarly to blow (also pour) cats and dogs .
[a1652 R. Brome City Wit iv. i. sig. D7v, in Five New Playes (1653) , It shall raine..Dogs and Polecats.]
1661 T. Flatman Don Juan Lamberto (new ed.) ii. iv. sig. L, Here we have Houses over our heads, so that if it should rain Dogs and Cats we could have no harm.
1738 Swift Compl. Coll. Genteel Conversat. 178, I know Sir John will go, tho’ he was sure it would rain Cats and Dogs.
1766 P. Thicknesse Observ. Customs Fr. Nation 106 It blows cats and dogs, as the sailors say.

Google Books
15 September 1911, The Mixer & Server, pg. 31, col. 2:
IN THE SHADOW OF PIKE’S PEAK.
Jack Dolan of Local 14 was gazing toward the mountains when Red Harris accosted him and inquired, what are you looking at, Jack? Nothing, replied Jack, just wondering what is worse than raining cats and dogs. Well, what is, inquired Red. Hailing taxi cabs, quoth Jack, as he turned toward Curtis street to keep an engagement.

Google Books
19 July 1912, The Retail Grocers’ Advocate, pg. 31, col. 2:
HAILING TAXIS.
Mike was thoughtfully looking at the sky, when Pat came along, slapped him on the shoulder, and said, “Shure an’ what are you looking at?”

“Nothing,” said Mike. “I was thinking what was worse than raining cats and dogs?

“You’ve got me there,” said Pat.

“Hailing taxicabs,” was the answer.

Google News Archive
21 March 1941, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), “Shop with Sue,” pg. 3, col. 7:
What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis.

Google News Archive
20 March 1953, The Evening Citizen (Ottawa, ON), “Pludge’s Ordeal” by Jack Scott, pg. 46, col. 4:
“He said there was only one thing worse than raining cats and dogs. That was hailing taxis.”

Google News Archive
25 January 1973, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Saying Adieu to French” by Alex Thien, pt. 1, pg. 13, col. 1:
BILL DUERST SAYS TRY this on the little nippers. What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Why, hailing taxis, you silly.

Google Books
The Treasure-trove of American Jewish Humor
By Henry D. Spalding
Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David Publishers
1976
Pg. 104:
The visitor to New York rushed from the airport into a waiting taxi, trying to keep dry in the heavy downpour.

“Can you think of anything worse,” grumbled the visitor, “than raining cats and dogs in New York?”

“Sure,” said the cab driver cheerfully. “Hailing taxis!”

Google Books
The Oxford Guide to Word Games
By Tony Augarde
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
1986, ©1984
Pg. 13:
What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis.

Miami (FL) Herald
Posted on Monday, 08.18.14
BUSINESS MONDAY CEO ROUNDTABLE
Taxi alternatives could improve service
(...)
There is an old joke: “What’s worse than raining cats and dogs? Hailing taxis”.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Tuesday, August 19, 2014 • Permalink