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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 18, 2015
“I just flew in and boy, are my arms tired!”

"I just flew in from (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York) and boy, are my arms tired!” is a classic joke told by American comedians. That is, the arms had been flapping like a bird’s wings.

“I just flew in from Boston and my arms got tired” was said by Hildegarde (1906-2005) and printed in Earl Wilson’s syndicated newspaper column on October 29, 1945. “I just flew in from New York. Boy, are my arms tired!” was cited in print in 1948.

“I just flew in from California, and boy, are my arms tired!” was told by Manhattan-born television personality Robert Q. Lewis (1920-1991) in 1951. “I just flew in from New York and boy...! are my arms tired!” was cited in 1954 and “I just flew in from Chicago and gosh are my arms tired” was cited in 1955.

The joke is so well known that it’s usually told with some variations or to illustrate a bad joke.

“I had to fly across the country for my vaccine, and, wow, are my arms sore” is one joke variation that was told about Covid-19 vaccinations. The arms were sore from both the flying and the vaccinations.

[This entry was assisted by research from the Quote Investigator.]


Newspapers.com
29 October 1945, Courier-Post (Camden, NJ), Earl Wilson column, pg. 17, col. 8:
She (Hildegarde—ed.) said, “I hope I can play the piano. I just flew in from Boston and my arms got tired.”

Newspapers.com
20 September 1946, Miami (FL) Herald, “On with the Show” by George Bourke, pg. 10-B, col. 1:
ONE of the inevitable gags visiting comedians used here last season went like this: “I just flew in from Jacksonville—and gosh, are my arms tired.”

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
15 September 1948, The Post (Ellicottville, NY), pg. 7, col. 3:
The Hi-Reporter
Official Publication of Ellicottville Central School
All Material Furnished and Edited by the School Staff
(...)
The seemingly short summer vacation has come to an end and school is again in full swing. From now on anything can, and probably will happen___Bernie Stearns has a new shotgun in case anyone tries stealing his chickens. So, chicken thieves beware unless you want a yentilated veranda!___Virginia Kelly said: “I just flew in from New York. Boy, are my arms tired!"___ When football season opened, Gene Enright was the only one in shape.

25 January 1951, Boston (MA) Herald, “On Television” by Roger Swift, pg. 23, col. 8:
My own reaction was somewhat conditioned by the fact that the Durante show happened to be on at the same time, and while I suppose Robert Q. Lewis is a good enough man, it was a little painful to leave Durante’s version of “I’m a Vulture for Horticulture” in favor of Lewis’s joke, “I just flew in from California, and boy, are my arms tired!”

Newspapers.com
1 April 1951, Miami (FL) Sunday News, Herb Rau column, pg. 3-B, col. 1:
TODAY’S SPECIAL—There’s a new variation on the old gag about, “I just flew in from New York, and boy, are my arms tired!” The new one flew into Irving Hoffman’s column from London, where the epidemic is heavy: Angel No. 1: “How did you get here?” Angel No. 2: “Flu”.

26 March 1954, The Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, CA), pg. 32 ad:
OLD TRUSTY RUSTY SEZ:
I just flew in from New York and boy...! are my arms tired!
(...)
WEST COAST MERCHANDISE MART

Google News Archive
9 December 1955, Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen, “Noted U.S. Speaker Gene Flack Regales 500 At Annual Event,” pg. 3, col. 2:
Gene, a First World War buck private in the U.S. Army who rose to captain and hasn’t sat down since started with, “I just flew in from Chicago and gosh are my arms tired.”

1 August 1958, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “‘Joke Rating Service’ Offered by Professionals” by Phyllis Battelle, pg. 34, col. 2:
“I just flew in from Hollywood—are my arms tired.” (12)
(A 12 rating out of 100 means that the joke is not good.—ed.)

Google News Archive
27 December 1968, Miami (FL) News, “Didja Hear The One About...” by John Keasler, pg. 12-A, col. 4:
“Just flew in from Philly,” he planned to say, on arrival, “And, boy, are my arms tired!”

Google News Archive
1 January 1975, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Brooks’ new movie more than jokes” by Charles Champlin (Los Angeles Times), pg. 30, cols. 3-4:
(Mel—ed.) Brooks moved from survival comedy to professional comedy inadvertently. He was working as a drummer in the house band at a Catskills resort when the comedian got sick. Brooks knew the dreadful routines by heart—“I just flew in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired”—and took over.

OCLC WorldCat record
I just flew in from Invercargill and boy are my arms tired!
Author: Rhythm Doktor, (Musician); Hyphenears (Musical group); Kefflins (Musical group); Blank Sabbath (Musical group); Janet Thomsons (Musical group); All authors
Publisher: Invercargill, N.Z. : TV Eye, [1984]
Edition/Format: eMusic : English

OCLC WorldCat record
I just flew in from Chicago ... and boy, are my arms tired
Author: Tom Kubis
Publisher: Glendale, CA : Walrus Music, [199-]
Edition/Format: Musical score : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Sunday, January 18, 2015 • Permalink