[Ads-l] "Only When I Laugh!"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 11 16:17:50 EST 2018

Beautiful work, Peter.

Below are two instances in which a person experiences pain when he or
she laughs, but the articles do not display comical understatement. I
include them here simply to illustrate pedestrian scenarios that
facilitated the genesis and circulation of the later anecdotes.

In the following passage an individual visits a patient who is
recovering from appendicitis.

Date: November 15, 1908
Newspaper: The Baltimore Sun
Newspaper Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Article: A Visit to a Hospital
Quote Page 18, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt
"Tell me how do you feel?" I queried by way of beginning agreeably.
"Fine, splendid, if only my incision didn't hurt when I laugh."
[End excerpt]

Date: April 29, 1927
Newspaper: The San Francisco Examiner
Newspaper Location: San Francisco, California
Article: Better Health
Author: League for Conservation of Public Health
Quote Page 18, Column 6
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Miss E. T.—"I am 21 years old and am bothered with a pain in my right
side, near the hip, which hurts when I laugh or take a deep breath.
[End excerpt]

On Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 10:53 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> A similar, albeit more realistic, anecdote appears in a Canadian newspaper in 1935, attributed to a man named Philip Gosse, a medical officer who served in WWI.  The anecdote is taken from his memoir,  Memoirs of a Camp Follower, London, Longman's Green & Co.,  1934.  He quotes a young English soldier, fighting in an Irish unit, with delivering what later became a punch line. The newspaper reference is available on newspapers.com, the memoir is available on archive.org.
> The Gazette (Montreal), June 22, 1935, page 3.
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/25282079/the_gazette/
> [Begin Excerpt] Philip Gosse saw most of his war service in the Medical Corps and some of his experiences leave a hospital patient lost in admiration of the pluck exhibited by the wounded.  I should have liked to know little John Bishop, who belonged to the Irish Rifles; although he was English and came from Guilford.  Gosse found him, a pale-faced boy, covered with mud, soaked with rain and blood, obviously in desperate plight, and asked him while gently examining his wound, "Does it hurt you very much?"  The answer came: "No, sir, only when I laugh." That is worth remembering. [End excerpt]
> Memoirs of a Camp Follower, pages 72-73.
> https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.528065/page/n91
> [Begin excerpt] The stretcher-bearers had a very tiring carry, not only because of the shrapnel barage but because of the deep mud and shell holes.  When I went to see the wounded man I found a pale-faced, spectacled boy, covered with muc, soaked with rain and blood, and obviously in a desperate plight.  He belonged to the London Irish Rifles; whi, I never fathomed, for he was not Irish, but English, and lived at Guildford.
> While I was gently examining his wound I asked him, more for the sake of something to say than anything else, if it hurt him very much.  His answer, which I shall never forget, was "no Sir, only when I laugh."
> [End Excerpt]
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2018 3:06 PM
> Subject: Re: "Only When I Laugh!"
> ---------------------- 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: "Only When I Laugh!"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Here are some earlier instances in the U.K. (London) and the U.S.A. (Boston=
> ).
> The instance below appeared in the "Daily Mirror" of London in
> September 1939. The tall tale about the Zulu War was presented by a
> columnist. The story was attributed to a "tough-sergeant-major who
> professes to have seen service in three wars". The military man was
> talking to a "new recruit". An assegai is a spear.
> Date: September 23, 1939
> Newspaper: Daily Mirror
> Newspaper Location: London, England
> Column: Cassandra
> Column Section: No Apologies
> Quote Page 8, Column 2
> Database: Newspapers.com
> Database: British Newspaper Archive
> [Begin excerpt]
> The air was black with them assegaies that they were chuckin=E2=80=99 at us=
> .
> Suddenly, my chum, Bert, gets one of them clean through his gizzard.
> Nailed him proper. I fights on.
> Suddenly, I hears old Bert letting out a couple of yelps if he wasn't
> feeling too good, so I says:
> "What's the matter, Bert=E2=80=94does it hurt much?"
> Yes, son, that was a tough war, that was!
> [End excerpt]
> The U.K. story moved to the U.S. by August 1942. In the passage below
> an "old colonel" was speaking about the Zulu War.
> Date: August 14, 1942
> Newspaper: The Boston Globe
> Newspaper Location: Boston, Massachusetts
> Article: Tickled (Filler Item)
> Quote Page 12, Column 5
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> "Gad, sir," said the old colonel at the club, "the Zulu War was much
> worse than this one. Why, I remember the time when a Zulu threw his
> spear at me and it pinned me to the ground. I was lying there for
> three days."
> "It must have hurt."
> "Not much," said the colonel.
> "Only when I laughed:"=E2=80=94Tit-Bits.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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