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 March 20, 2019
“Our town is so small we don’t have a town drunk, so we all take turns”

"Our town is so small we don’t have a town drunk, so we all take turns” is a jocular drinking saying that has been printed on many images.  “‘I once played in a town so small,’ said TV’s Milton Berle during a rehearsal, ‘that they didn’t even have a town drunk. All the men had to take turns’” was printed in the Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE) on March 30, 1959. “My home town [Erick, Okla.] was so small, we didn’t have a town drunk. We had to take turns” was said by American singer-songwriter Roger Miller (1936-1992) in 1966.

American comedian and actor Milton Berle (1908-2002) often “borrowed” jokes and had jokes written for him, so it’s not known if he created the joke in 1959.


30 March 1959, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Stage, Screen and TV” by Denman Kountze, Jr., pg. 24, col. 5:
No news appears to be big news today, so here are some things at random: “I once played in a town so small,” said TV’s Milton Berle during a rehearsal, “that they didn’t even have a town drunk. All the men had to take turns.”

15 March 1966, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Hack Will Have 1966 Spurs In Shape to Bunt ‘Em Dizzy” by Frank Luksa, sec. 3, pg. 2, cols. 6-7:
“I’m also from a small town...Grand de Tour, Ill.,” he (Stan Hack—ed.) added. “It’s so small we don’t have a town drunk. Everyone takes turns.”

17 April 1966, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), “Roger Miller: Blase Bumpkin?” by Jim Morrissey, magazine sec., pg. 49, col. 1:
“My home town [Erick, Okla.] was so small, we didn’t have a town drunk. We had to take turns.”

1 May 1968, Wellsville (NY) Daily Reporter, “Athletic Amblings” by Chuck Ward, pg. 8, col. 1:
“I come from a rather small town, too,” reported (Dan—ed.) Conners. “In fact, it’s so small we don’t even have a town drunk. Everyone, though, takes a turn at it.”

9 February 1972, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Good Morning,” sec. 2, pg. 1, col. 4:
Overheard: “My home town was so small we didn’t have a town drunk—so we all took turns.”
-- Philnews

Google Books
The Treasury of Clean Jokes
By Tal D. Bonham
Nashville, TN: Broadman Press
1981
Pg. 101:
My Hometown “My hometown was so small that we didn’t have a town drunk; we just took turns.”

Google Books
Laughter in Appalachia:
A Festival of Southern Mountain Humor

By Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler
Little Rock, AR: August House, Inc.
1987
Pg. 136:
It’s (Tucker’s Knob—ed.) so small, we don’t have a town drunk. We just take turns!

Google Groups: alt.support.crohns-colitis
Semi-New to the Group.
Howard E. Jarrett
5/4/99
I live in Ketchikan, further south from Juneau.
First city in Alaska coming up the Pacific coast.
‘Ketchikan’ pronounced “catch - a - can”.

Ketchikan is so small we don’t have a town drunk…
...We all take turns.

Google Groups: alt.culture.alaska
Expedition Yukon2002 have questions about weapon
Conrad Muller
12/23/01
(...)
Do you remember the old joke?

“Our town is so small we don’t have a town drunk. We all take turns.”

Twitter
Sandi Mann
@ShahStruckSandi
Replying to @iamsrk
@iamsrk I came from a town so small, we didn’t have a town drunk, so we had to take it in turns
5:51 PM - 11 Jan 2010

Twitter
dan pierce
@dp2400
my town is so small we don’t have a town drunk so we take turn’s!!
1:38 PM - 25 Mar 2011

Twitter
Allison Dush
@Douucchheee
This town is so small we don’t have a town drunk, We all take turns....
1:18 AM - 5 Jun 2011

Twitter
toni steele
@tonisteele
@PTdawg1122 just saw a shirt that says “Oxford is so small we don’t have a town drunk we all take turns”
7:24 PM - 20 Jul 2011

Twitter
Genna
@Genna_Mazzei
“Oxford is so small, we don’t have a town drunk. So, we all take turns.” @The_TownDrunk @OleMissProblems @OleMissBachelor
11:52 PM - 26 Aug 2012

Twitter
Steve Johnson
@Grizzly_Stevens
Replying to @CharlieDaniels
@CharlieDaniels Town I grew up in was so small, we didn’t have a “Town Drunk”. Everyone took a turn.
1:19 PM - 21 Oct 2012

Twitter
Joelene
@jsaylorbby
our city is so small, we don’t have a town drunk so we all take turns 🍺
10:21 PM - 1 Mar 2014

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR)
Jokes in files given to UA by Bumpers
by Bill Bowden | April 12, 2015 at 2:56 a.m. | Updated April 12, 2015 at 2:56 a.m.
FAYETTEVILLE—Tiny towns and talking dogs were topics of jokes for former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers.

“My hometown was so small we didn’t have a town drunk. We just took turns.”

That joke, along with many others, are in the three folders labeled “Joke Files” in the Dale Bumpers Papers at the University of Arkansas Library in Fayetteville. Bumpers donated his Senate papers to the university 15 years ago. They have been available to the public for the past year.

St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch
Lake of the Ozarks, for the rest of us
By Daniel Neman St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jun 28, 2015
(...)
Farther north lies Versailles, a quaint small town established in 1835. Its charming downtown area is centered around the Morgan County Courthouse, a historic structure of red brick and white trim. On the streets surrounding it are an antiques store or two, a general store, a couple of restaurants, a bar (on the wall hangs a sign reading “our town’s so small we don’t have a town drunk, so we all take turns”) and a few salons.

Reddit—Oneliners
Posted by u/Jdaug53 March 18, 2019
Our town is so small we don’t have a town drunk so we all take turns.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 • Permalink