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 September 26, 2013
“A guy walks into a bar…” (bar jokes)

Bar jokes have existed probably as long as bars have existed. In the 1950s, the jokes began with animals (such as a dog or a kangaroo) coming into a bar and asking for a drink. By the 1970s, the “walks into a bar” jokes were told by almost every comedian.

In a 1980s food joke version, a sandwich was walking into a bar, only to be told by the bartender: “We don’t serve food here.”

Five “walks into a bar” joke books were published from 2005-2008.


eHow
How to Write a “Walks Into A Bar” Joke
By Osirus, eHow Editor
So many classic jokes are about people walking into a bar. Ever wonder why? It’s because they’re fun to write and not too difficult. Learn how, amuse your friends, and join a proud history of bar jokes.

6 April 1952, New York (NY) Times, “The Consummately Dry Martini” by C. B. Palmer, pg. SM41:
A man walks into a bar and says he wants a very,very dry martini—25 to 1.
(...)
A man walks into a bar and says he wants a very dry martini, and he wants the man to mix it on top of the bar, so he can watch it.

25 August 1956, Long Beach (CA) Independent, “Bob Kelley Says--,” pg. 14, col. 1:
DEAR KELL:
Here I am again with another knee-slapper for you. “It seems a kangaroo walks into a bar and orders a martini, drinks it and pulls out a five dollar bill to pay for it. The bartender picks up the dough, gives him his change...and charges the kangaroo $1.50 for the martini.

“Then as the kangaroo’s leaving, the bartender tells me he’s never seen a kangaroo in his bar before.

“No,” says the kangaroo, “and at these prices you never will again!”

Well, Kell, I’ll bet you’re dying over that one.
Oscar W. Lange

In a matter of speaking—yes.

12 February 1957, Hayward (CA) Daily Review, “Talking Dogs Plague Television Producer” by William Ewald, pg. 15, col. 7:
Guy walks into bar with dog he says can talk. “Who hit most home runs in baseball?” says man. “Ruth,” barks dog. “Phony,” says bartender. “Whatdaya expect me to say—DiMaggio?” says dog.

Google Books
The Journal of American Folk-lore
By American Folklore Society, JSTOR (Organization), Project Muse
Published by Published for the American Folk-lore Society by Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1963
Item notes: v.76 1963
Pg. 49:
The Drinking Kangaroo. A kangaroo enters a bar and drinks a whiskey. The bartender remarks that this is the first time he has served a kangaroo. “It’ll be the last unless you charge less.”

24 May 1963, Western Kansas Press (Great Bend, KS), pg. 4, col. 2:
“Officer, I am a fully licensed funny man making an emergency run. There is a poor devil in there with a number of complicated ailments. Had I not gotten there in time with a joke about this kangaroo who walks into this bar and orders this martini he might well have expired.”

15 October 1969, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, “Laughs to Remember” by Jim Bishop, pg. 2B, col. 6:
Then there’s the double reverse gag. Man walks into bar holding a duck. Bartender says: “Buddy, whatchew doon with that pig?” “This ain’t no pig,” said the customer. “It’s a duck.” “I wasn’t talking to you,” the bartender said, “I was talking to the duck.”

18 March 1971, Chicago (IL) Tribune, pg. C19:
“...So This Puppy Goes Into a Bar...”

24 August 1975, New York (NY) Times, “Cavett—Nice Guys Finish Last,” pg. 109:
His opening monologue was weak, with the obligatory ABC joke, the C.I.A. joke, the sit-com joke, the guy-walks-into-a-bar joke and the New York City fiscal-crisis joke.

Google News Archive
24 February 1978, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “The Joke Is On Local Movie Buffs” by James Irwin, pg. 24, col. 2:
The salesman and the farmer’s daughter type joke. The guy walks into a bar with no pants on type joke.

Google Books
28 February 1979, New York magazine, pg. 122, col. 3:
HORSE CHESTNUT—old joke; ex.: “This horse walks into a bar and orders a martini...”

Google Books
21 November 1983, New York magazine, pg. 161, col. 2:
KANGAROO WALKS INTO A BAR BAR—accident at the Paris zoo.
Peter Golden, N.Y.C.

6 November 1989, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, pg. F3, col. 5:
Very dumb food jokes
Here are two food jokes that are too dumb not to be repeated.
. Ham sandwich walks into a bar and orders a drink. Bartender refuses: “Sorry, we don’t serve food here.”
. Grasshopper walks into a bar. Bartender says: “Hey! We got a drink here named after you.” Grasshopper says: “Really? You got a drink named Fred?” Told you they were dumb.

Google Groups: rec.humor
Newsgroups: rec.humor
From: (BIGMAC)
Date: 22 Feb 91 15:34:25 GMT
Local: Fri, Feb 22 1991 9:34 am
Subject: PURITY TESTS

A man hamburger walks into a bar and says ‘Ill have a pint of larger please’

to which the barman replies

‘im sorry sir we dont serve food’

Google Books
6 December 1993, New York magazine, pg. 198, col. 1:
Results of Competition 778, in which you were asked to retell this joke in the style of a well-known person: “Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich walks into a bar. Bartender looks up and says, “I’m sorry, we don’t serve food.”

Google Groups: alt.callahans
Newsgroups: alt.callahans
From: (Jim Walke)
Date: 1996/10/21
Subject: Re: A man walks into a bar…

So this termite walks into a bar, and asks “Is the bar tender here?”

So this guy walks into a bar with a duck on his head.  The bartender says, “Hey, where did you get that?” The duck answers, “Outside, there’s thousands of ‘em!”

So this empty beer bottle walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “Hey, weren’t you drunk in here last night?”

So this hamburger walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “Get out of here, we don’t serve food here!”

So this cow walks into a bar, and says, “Hay, Bartender!”

OCLC WorldCat record
A guy walks into a bar-- : 501 bar jokes, stories, anecdotes, quips, quotes, riddles, and wisecracks
by Michael Lewis
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: New York : Black Dog & Leventhal : Distributed by Workman Pub. Co., ©2005.

OCLC WorldCat record
Man walks into a bar : over 6,000 of the most hilarious jokes, funniest insults, and gut-busting one-liners
by Stephen Arnott; Mike Haskins
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Ulysses Press, ©2007.

OCLC WorldCat record
Man walks into a bar 2 : the ultimate collection of jokes and one-liners
by Jonathan Swan
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: London : Ebury, 2007.

OCLC WorldCat record
A dog walks into a bar : dog jokes so funny you’ll beg for more
by Joanne O’Sullivan
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: New York : Lark Books, ©2007.

Postscripts: The Anatomy of Humor
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The Anatomy of Humor 6: “A guy walks into a bar . . .”
HUMOR
No one knows when the first joke beginning with the six words “A guy walks into a bar . . .” was told, or how it went. Nevertheless, an entire genre of jokes has been created revolving around that opening scenario. Here’s a sampling of some of the variants that have sprung up, many now involving animals or inanimate objects:

A guy walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says, “A beer please, and one for the road.”

An amnesiac walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Do I come here often?”

OCLC WorldCat record
Blonde walks into a bar : the 4,000 most hilarious, gut-busting gags, one-liners and jokes
by Jonathan Swan
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Ulysses Press, ©2008.

A Hamburger Today
A Hamburger Walks into a Bar: 14 Variations
Posted by Adam Kuban, February 25, 2009 at 5:10 PM
“A hamburger walks into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Hey, you’re quite a celebrity in here. We’ve even got a sandwich named after you!’ The hamburger looks confused and asks, ‘Really? You’ve got a sandwich named Steve?’” 13 more, at Coldmud.
(...)
COMMENTS
A hamburger walks into a bar. The bartender says (as all bartenders say)........
“So what’ll it be, Mac?”
barrypopik at 11:04PM on 02/25/09

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, September 26, 2013 • Permalink