bears with furniture

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 26 11:47:42 UTC 2011

Dave Wilton wrote:
> Rudner used it in 1985 or perhaps even earlier. I remember watching her act
> on HBO as an undergraduate.

As suggested by David Wilton's memory an HBO special featuring Rita
Rudner telling the joke was broadcast in 1985. The program was
reviewed in the New York Times and the Washington Post in August of
1985. Here is the NYT info:

Cite: 1985 August 2, New York Times, Nine Comedians Appear On
Dangerfield Special by Stephen Holden, Page C24, New York. (ProQuest)

Although the world of standup comedy is bursting with interesting
conceptual performers and character comedians, the front lines of
American humor are barely visible on ''Rodney Dangerfield's Ninth
Annual Young Comedians Special,'' which will have its premiere on Home
Box Office, the pay-cable channel, tomorrow at 9:30 P.M. ...

Of the comedians who rely predominantly on fast-moving jokes, Rita
Rudner has the sharpest wit. "Men live like bears with furniture," she
observes. "If you never want to see a man again, say, 'I love you, I
want to marry you, I want to have children' - they leave skid marks."

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> victor steinbok
> Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 4:17 AM
> Subject: bears with furniture
> In case anyone ever tries to look for the source of the expression (which I
> saw in two unrelated blog posts today), a good start would be here (Oct. 18,
> 1990):
> PUBLIC & PRIVATE; Bears With Furniture
> By Anna Quindlen
> NYT. Published: October 18, 1990
>> Some of the best comedians right now are women, and the best of the woman
>> comedians is named Rita Rudner. She does great bits on men, and in one of
>> them she says: ''Men don't live well by themselves. They don't even live
>> like people. They live like bears with furniture.''
> Rudner had used the phrase for some time prior to its appearance in the NYT.
> But I did not even try to track down earlier evidence.
> VS-)
> **
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