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 July 20, 2018
“Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?"/"Samson. He brought the house down.”

A Bible riddle is:

Q: Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?
A: Samson. He brought the house down.


To “bring the house down” is to achieve approval from the audience (the theatrical “house").  The joke has been cited in print since at least 1933.


Wikipedia: Samson
Samson (/ˈsæmsən/; שִׁמְשׁוֹן‬, Shimshon, “man of the sun")was the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible (chapters 13 to 16) and one of the last of the leaders who “judged” Israel before the institution of the monarchy. He is sometimes considered to be an Israelite version of the popular Near Eastern folk hero also embodied by the Sumerian Enkidu and the Greek Heracles.

The biblical account states that Samson was a Nazirite, and that he was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform superhuman feats, including slaying a lion with his bare hands and massacring an entire army of Philistines using only the jawbone of a donkey.

16 September 1933, The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ), “Uncle Ray’s Corner,” pg. 13, col. 8:
Why was Samson a popular actor?
In the Bible we read about the strong man Samson pushing against pillars until he caused a building to tumble down on his head. Thus we may say that he “brought the house down.”

21 January 1956, Journal and Guide (Norfolk, VA), “Riddles,” pg. 14, col. 6:
Who was the most popular actor in the Bible?
Ans.: Samson. He brought down the house.

Google Books
A Treasury of Laughs for Boys & Girls
By Robert C. Mellon
New York, NY: Hart Publishing Company
1957
Pg. 75:
Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?
Samson. He brought down the house,

13 January 1960, The Valley Times-Star (Newville, PA), “The Fun of a Pun!,” pg. 13, col. 5:
Q. Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?
A. Samson. He brought down the house.

29 April 1957, Detroit (MI) Times, “Tun Time—The Riddle Box,” pg. 21, col. 8:
Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?
Samson. He brought down the house.

Google Books
Gingerbread
By Helga Sandburg
Drawings by Charles Geer
New York, NY: Dial Press
1964
Pg. 39:
“Who was the greatest actor in the Bible?”

“Who?”

“Samson. He brought down the house.”

Google Books
Find It in the Bible:
Lists, Lists, and Lists

By Bob Phillips
West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing Company, Inc.
2004
Pg. 239:
Question: Who was the most popular actor in the Bible?
Answer: Samson. He brought the house down.

Twitter
Jewish Tweets
@JewishTweets
@teensygreen @AmitElhanan - ah yes. Samson. The first great actor in the Bible. (Brought down the house… wink ) That is one out of four.
10:39 AM - 29 May 2008

Twitter
Thomas Wayne Simmons
@sitaowei
Bible joke from my youth: Q.: Who was the greatest actor in the Bible? A.: Samson.
He brought the house down. smile
2:12 PM - 13 Jun 2009

Twitter
lorraine Jo King
@LahLahBean
#sillysaturday
Who was the best actor in the bible?
Samson, he brought the house down!
2:16 AM - 21 Jul 2018

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Friday, July 20, 2018 • Permalink