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 22, 2018
“My dad got shot from a cannon. The circus never found another man of his caliber”

A circus joke has it that a human cannonball tries to quit. (Another version has the human cannonball fly off into space.) The ringmaster sighs and says, “It’s hard to find another man of his caliber.”

The joke has been cited in printed since at least 1953.


24 June 1953, Twin-City News-Record (Menasha, WI), “Roving Reporter,” pg. 1, col. 2:
Have you heard that the Hennies show takes special care of Wilno its human cannonball. It’s hard to find another man of his caliber.

10 July 1961, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Herb Stein” (from Hollywood), pg. 9, col. 8:
The way Bill Reed, former test pilot, tells it, Blasto, the human cannonball, was introduced, then, to a lavish tribute to his daring, rammed into the big cannon. The fuse was lit, there was a deafening roar and amid the ohs and ahs of the crowd he was catapulted into the air. But instead of aiming for the net he soared higher and higher into space and finally went into orbit.

The ringmaster watched him disappear from sight, shook his head sadly and said, “I don’t know where I’ll ever find another man of his caliber.” (Matt Weinstock).

28 March 1962, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Try and Stop me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 19, col. 3:
IGNATZ BLASTOFF, the human cannonball, was stuffed into the big circus cannon and catapulted into space amidst the cheers and gasps of the four hundredth consecutive capacity audience at Kadison’s Kolossal Karnival. This time, however, Ignatz Blastoff did not tumble gracefully back into the waiting net, but soard upward and upward until he was lost in the wild blue yonder.

Entrepreneur Kadison scratched his head worrisome and sighed, “I may never find another man of his caliber.”

Google Books
Editor & Publisher
Volume 103
1970
Pg. ?:
P. T. BARNUM of circus fame, once said upon hearing that his human cannonball had quit. “Where are we going to get another man of his caliber?”

Google Groups: alt.war.vietnam
the highest caliber
Edward Combs
2/6/00
The man that got shot from a cannon each night at the circus quit. they are looking for a man of his caliber.

Google Books
Kids’ Nuttiest Jokes
By Mike Benny
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
2003 (Originally published in 1993)
Pg. 68:
Did you hear about the human cannonball who was lost?
It was tough to find a man of his caliber.

Google Groups: rec,guns
what “caliber” exactly refers to???
Steve Greer
12/11/03
(...)
Remember the old song about “Hugo, the Human Cannonball”?  he died in a circus accident and they were eulogizing him “...we’ll never find another man of his caliber”...  smile)

Google Groups: alt.tasteless.jokes
A man of caliber
Douglas D. Anderson
4/17/04
A man was thinking of retiring from the circus. He decided to quit, as he was getting old and was becoming more fearful of being shot out of the cannon. The circus owner replied that he could not quit, it would be impossible to find another man of his caliber.

Google Groups: alt.religion.kibology
Marvin The Misogynist
Tim Bruening
8/23/04
(...)
> > >>The Ringmaster of the travelling circus was aghast when the Human
> > >>Cannonball suddenly quit. “How will I ever find another man of his
> > >>caliber?”

Twitter
Rhys James Batt
@rhysbatt
Human cannonball retires, the circus master says that it’ll be hard to find another man of his caliber
5:56 PM - 10 Jun 2010

Twitter
Andrew Burn
@aburner33
When the Human Cannon ball retired from the circus, the ring master said of his replacement, “We’re battling to find a man of his caliber.”
12:41 PM - 26 Feb 2013

Reddit—Jokes
He was the best human cannonball the circus ever had.
submitted September 5, 2014 by jimdpie
You seldom meet a man of his caliber.

Reddit—Dad Jokes
My dad used to get shot from a cannon at the circus. When he retired they had to close the show. (self.dadjokes)
submitted September 22, 2018 by totuan
They couldn’t find another man of his caliber.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, September 22, 2018 • Permalink