[Ads-l] Robert Benchley on jogging

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 13 03:45:08 EDT 2017

When the anecdote found its way into newspapers in 1952, it was reported as coming from Arthur B. Mayer's book, "Merely Colossal".  He claimed that when he saw Robert Benchley sunning himself indoors with a sunlamp, Benchley told him he didn't like the outdoors because - that's where things could fall on you.  Like "meteors or manna." Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 3, 1952  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9513997/star_tribune/
From: ADSGarson O'Toole<mailto:adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: ‎3/‎12/‎2017 22:52
Subject: Re: Robert Benchley on jogging

---------------------- 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: Robert Benchley on jogging

Geoffrey Nunberg wrote:
> A number of quotation sites attribute to Benchley the
> line, "Go jogging? What, and get hit by a meteor?=E2=80=9D
> Inasmuch as Benchley definitively departed this vale
> in 1945, that feels like an anachronism =E2=80=94 was =E2=80=9Cgo
> jogging=E2=80=9D used in this sense as early as that?

Based on an annotated bibliography it looks like Benchley wrote a
column in 1935 that was thematically relevant. Does anyone have access
to San Francisco Examiner in 1935? Has this newspaper been digitally

Year: 1995
Book: Robert Benchley: An Annotated Bibliography
Compiler: Gordon E. Ernst
Publisher: ABC-CLIO
Quote Page 74
Database: Google Books Preview

[Begin excerpt]
"Duck, Brothers!"  San Francisco Examiner, February 11, 1935, p. [13].
(How to avoid being hit by a meteor.)  (In B15)
[End excerpt]

Robert Benchley died in 1945. Here is a version of the joke based on
sunbathing instead of jogging in 1957. Benchley delivered the

Date: May 25, 1957
Newspaper: The Ottawa Journal
Newspaper Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Article: An Attic Salt Shaker
Quote Page 44, Column 6
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
One beautiful afternoon in Hollywood, a friend called on him and found
him sunning himself under a lamp.

"What are you doing under that?" demanded the friend. He pointed to
the sun-drenched patio on the other side of the window. "Why don't you
sit out there?"

"What, and get hit with a meteor?" retorted Benchley.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list