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 Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 14, 2023
“A man walks into a Soviet shop and asks, ‘You don’t have any meat?’” (scarcity joke)

A joke is told about food shortages in the Soviet Union. A person walks into a meat shop and says, “I suppose you don’t have any fish?” A person who works there corrects him and says, “Comrade, this is a meat shop. We don’t have any meat. Across the street is a fish shop that doesn’t have any fish.”
 
It’s not known who originated the joke, which has been cited in print since at least 1979.
 
       
Newspapers.com
6 August 1979, The Daily Telegraph (London, UK), “‘Pravda’ plea for satirists” by Richard Beeston, pg. 11, col. 5:
“I suppose you don’t have any meat today,” says a Russian to a shop assistant. “No. Comrade, you have come to the wrong counter, we don’t have any fish,” she replies. “That’s the counter over there where they don’t have any meat.”
 
Newspapers.com
30 March 1980, The Province (Vancouver, BC), “Food shortages bread unrest throughout Russia” by Ilya Gerol, pg. B2, col. 1:
One of the most popular stories about food quotes a customer in a meat shop. “I suppose you don’t have any fish?” he asks dejectedly. “Look here,” replies the clerk. “This is a meat shop. We don’t have any meat. Go across to the dish shop. They don’t have any fish.”

Google Books   
U.S. News & World Report
Volume 93
1982
Pg. 39:
The proprietor replies: “No. This is the store where we don’t have any fish. You’ll find the store where they don’t have any meat around the corner.”
     
Newspapers.com
20 September 1989, Kenosha (WI) News, “As Soviet society changes, so does its underground humor” by David A. Harris (Washington Post), pg. 5, col. 3:
Ivan walked into a shop. “Do you have any meat?” he asked the clerk. “No, here we don’t have any fish. Next door, at the butcher’s they don’t have any meat.”
 
Google Books
Soviet Laughter, Soviet Tears:
An American Couple’s Six-Month Adventure in a Ukrainian Village

By Christine Dull and ‎Ralph Dull
Englewood, OH: Stillmore Press
1992
Pg. 78:
“This is a fish store,” answered the proprietor. “You know the meat store across the street? That’s where they don’t have any meat.”
 
Twitter
Benedict Evans
@benedictevans
“A man walks into a shop and asks “You don’t have any fish, do you?” And the shopkeeper says “No, we’re a butcher - we don’t have any meat”
2:27 AM · Apr 26, 2016
 
Reddit—Jokes
Posted by u/[deleted] January 18, 2017
A man walks into a Soviet shop…
...he goes to a counter and asks: “You don’t have any meat?” “No, replies the sales lady, “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”
       
The Moscow Times
CIA Declassifies Archive of Soviet Jokes in English
Jan. 19, 2017
The CIA has declassified a document containing a large collection of Soviet era jokes in English, the Meduza news website has reported.
(...)
“A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?” The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”
 
Google Groups: uk.politics.misc
what does a russian meat queue eat…cabbage
KKKernal Corn
Mar 21, 2020, 8:28:24 AM
(...)
Which brings to mind an old joke from Soviet times:
 
A Russian walks into a shop and asks, “You wouldn’t happen to have any fish, would you?”. The shop assistant replies, “You’ve got it wrong – ours is a butcher’s shop. We don’t have any meat. You’re looking for the fish shop across the road. There they don’t have any fish!”
 
Reddit—Jokes
Posted by u/MudakMudakov March 25, 2022
A man walks into a shop in Soviet Russia.
He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?
The clerk replies, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”
 
Reddit—Jokes
Posted by u/OskarTheRed April 11, 2023
Soviet joke: A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?”
The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Friday, April 14, 2023 • Permalink


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