[Ads-l] Early Evidence for "Nobody Here But Us Chickens"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 19 12:07:23 EST 2017


Regarding the history and evolution of the joke: While searching I
came across a distinct joke that followed a similar schema in 1905.
There was an inquiry, and the punchline response was an adsurdist
denial rendered in vernacular.

Date: October 11, 1905
Newspaper: Eau Claire Leader
Newspaper Location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Quote Page 4, Column 2
Database: Newspapers.com

[[Begin excerpt, please double check]]
Standing Rule at the Club
[New York World.]

Jones had just run over to see if Mr. and Mrs. Blank would go to the
theatre with them.  Mrs. Blank was awfully sorry—she would so much
like to go, but, unfortunately, Blank was out, but probably he was at
the club. She would telephone. The following conversation ensued:
"Main 31333, please, Hello! Is this the -----club? Is my husband
there? Hello! Not there? Sure? Well, all right, then; but hold on, how
do you know my name." "There ain't nobody's husband here—never," was
the wise attendant's reply.
[[End excerpt]]


On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> There was a cartoon and "joke" written a couple months earlier (April 14) than the Life cartoon, but which was issued for sale a couple weeks afterward (June 27).
>
>
> A collection of humor, stories, jokes and cartoons published by Judge Magazine entitled, Caricature; Wit and Humor of a Nation, Thirteenth Edition (New York, Leslie-Judge Company, 1908) (HathiTrust), includes a different cartoon and the same joke with a different formulation.  Publisher's Weekly seems to indicate that the book was available for sale on June 27, 1908, and the Copyright records show that it filed for copyright protection on April 14, 1908, with two copies received by the copyright office on May 15, 1908.
>
>
> The book is a collection of bits, but it is unclear whether they were written for the book or were published in earlier periodicals.  A section on foreign humor cites the name of the publication they were taken from, but the rest of the book does not cite sources.
>
>
> Did Life see an advance copy and steal the joke? - or was the joke already out there from other sources?
>
>
> An Alibi.
>
> Poultryman: "Come out of there you black rascal, or I'll shoot you where you stand."
>
> Voice from within [the chicken coop]: "Honest boss, deh ain't nobody in heah but us chickens!"
>
>
> https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31158006160773;view=1up;seq=173
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ---------------------- 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: Early Evidence for "Nobody Here But Us Chickens"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> There was a cartoon in "Life" that was printed the month before.
>
> Date: June 11 1908
> Periodical: Life
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:16:40 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: Early Evidence for "Nobody Here But Us Chickens"
>
> ---------------------- 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: Early Evidence for "Nobody Here But Us Chickens"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> There was a cartoon in "Life" that was printed the month before.
>
> Date: June 11 1908
> Periodical: Life
> https://books.google.com/books?id=3Db88aAAAAYAAJ&q=3D%22nobody+in+heah%22#v=
> =3Dsnippet&
>
> [Begin punchline]
> 'TAINT NOBODY IN HEAH 'CEPTIN' US CHICKENS
> [End punchline]
>
> On Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 8:41 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrot=
> e:
>> In the Yale Book of Quotations I included the saying "There's nobody here=
>  but us chickens," with a citation from 1937.  Subsequently I have found a =
> 1912 occurrence of "There ain't nobody here but us chickens" in the New Orl=
> eans Times-Democrat.  Still earlier, Wikiquote cites a racially charged ver=
> sion, "dey ain't nobody hyah 'ceptin' us chickens," from Everybody's Magazi=
> ne, July 1908.
>>
>>
>> I would welcome information about any variants of this before July 1908.
>>
>>
>> Fred Shapiro
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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