Joke: I'm looking here because the light is better (1932)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 3 20:36:51 UTC 2013

Some earlier citations for this anecdote-allegory have been located
and the QI entry has been updated. The earliest cite (known to me) is
now in 1924.

On May 24, 1924 a Massachusetts newspaper printed an instance with a
Boston setting. A police officer saw a man on his hands and knees
“groping about” around midnight and asked him about his unusual

[ref] 1924 May 24, Boston Herald, Whiting’s Column: Tammany Has
Learned That This Is No Time for Political Bosses, Quote Page 2,
Column 1, Boston, Massachusetts. (GenealogyBank) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
    “I lost a $2 bill down on Atlantic avenue,” said the man.
    “What’s that?” asked the puzzled officer. “You lost a $2 bill on
Atlantic avenue? Then why are you hunting around here in Copley
    “Because,” said the man as he turned away and continued his hunt
on his hands and knees, “the light’s better up here.”
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 8:56 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Joke: I'm looking here because the light is better (1932)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Paul Johnson wrote:
>> There is a 1942 french film by Georges Clouzot called "_The Murderer
>> Lives at Number 21_"
>> <>
>> with the same joke, only this time the drunk has climbed the pole for
>> even more light
> Paul Johnson: Thank you for pointing to this film. I obtained a copy
> of the French 1942 version "L'Assassin Habite... Au 21" with English
> subtitles. I viewed the scene and updated the post on the QI website
> to include this example. The acknowledgement was also updated to
> include your name.
> [Begin excerpt]
> In 1942 the film "L'Assassin Habite... Au 21" directed by
> Henri-Georges Clouzot was released in France. It included a scene with
> a version of the joke. A policeman approached a character named Jean
> Baptiste who was sitting adjacent to a streetlight fixture on a strut
> that projected from the wall and supported the lamp above the street.
> The policeman asked Jean Baptiste what he was doing up there.
> He initialed replied that he was waiting for a bus and then stated he
> was looking for something. The policeman enquired "What?" "My
> matchbox. The light is better up here" was the reply. In French the
> search object was: "ma boīte d'allumettes".
> [ref] 1942, Film in French: "L'Assassin Habite... Au 21", Directed by
> Henri-Georges Clouzot, Adapted by Henri-Georges Clouzot and
> Stanislas-André Steeman from a novel by Steeman, (Scene occurs at  13
> minute mark of 1 hour 20 minute version), Films Sonores Tobis.
> (English version of film released in 1947 as "The Murderer Lives at
> Number 21") (Data form IMDB) [/ref]
> [End excerpt]
> Your help is appreciated,
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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