"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading” is a joke that has been included in many collections of sayings about drinking. The joke has been cited in print since at least 1955.
“I read about the evils of drinking, so I gave up reading” was included in Henny Youngman’s book, Bar Bets, Bar Jokes, Bar Tricks (1974). Henny Youngman (1906-1998), a comedian who was known as the “king of the one-liners,” is usually given credit for the joke, although it does not appear that he originated it.
[This entry was assisted with research from the Quote Investigator, who located a similar Groucho Marx quotation in 1950 about the evils of smoking.]
Google News Archive
26 August 1955, Lewiston (ME) Evening News, “The Oddity Almanac” by Hal Boyle, pg. 9, col. 2:
Comic Phil Harris says he’d read so much about the bad effect of drinking that he’s considering giving up reading.
9 September 1955, Arkansas State Press (Little Rock, AR), “Tan Topics” comic strip, pg. 2, col. 1:
(Two women are shown talking and a is man drinking from a glass—ed.)
“He read so much about the ill effects of drink that he gave up – reading!”
The Internet Movie Database
Memorable quotes for
Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Mrs. Fenty: You should read the Bible, Mr. Rumson.
Ben Rumson: I have read the Bible, Mrs. Fenty.
Mrs. Fenty: Didn’t that discourage you about drinking?
Ben Rumson: No, but it sure killed my appetite for readin’!
19 November 1972, Sunday Times-Advertiser (Trenton, NJ), Magaine, pg. 6, col. 3:
Pat read so much about the evils of drinking that he gave up reading.
(From Joey Adams’ Speaker’s Bible of Humor—ed.)
Bar Bets, Bar Jokes, Bar Tricks
By Henny Youngman
Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press
I read about the evils of drinking, so I gave up reading.
22 June 1975, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), sec. 3, pg. 1, col. 1:
“I notice Fogarty doesn’t wear glasses any longer!”
“It’s true! He read so much about the evils of drinking that he gave up reading!”—Erv Strub, Edgerton Reporter.
14 September 1975, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), “My Favorite Jokes” by Danny Klayman, Parade magazine, pg. 22, col. 2:
I read so much about the evils of drinking that I gave up reading.
9 June 1976, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, Joe Ganley column, pg. 17, col. 2:
Which reminds us that another old friend, Dan Dang, said:
“I’ve been reading so much about the evils of drinking that I’ve given up reading.”
15 May 1998, Philadelphia (PA) Daily News, “Rain Stops,” pg. F33:
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”—Henny Youngman.
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
U.S. comedian, 1906-1998
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”
Quoted in Rocky Mountain News, 15 July 1994
Well instead of stopping drinking because f its harmful effects, people tend to ignore knowing that harmful effects. You can get the humor immediately. I really appreciate your website.
A variation of that line is also uttered by Lee Marvin in the movie Paint Your Wagon (1969).