Some Judge Jive from the Silly Sixties, plus Some Sociological Cultural Commentary

Margaret Lee mlee303 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 26 09:32:31 UTC 2009

The 'Here Come da Judge' skits were on Laugh-in, not Hee-Haw.  Playing the Dozens involves talking about one's mother (or other family member).  The Judge-Man dialogue is a form of signifying, using circumlocution to send a message. Due to Jim Crow laws, Blacks could not eat/be served in the trains' dining cars at that time, though some, no doubt, could afford to do so.

Margaret G. Lee, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of English & Linguistics
Department of English
Hampton University 
Hampton, VA 23668
mlee303 at

--- On Sun, 1/25/09, Carter Rila <elcutachero at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

From: Carter Rila <elcutachero at YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Some Judge Jive from the Silly Sixties, plus Some Sociological Cultural Commentary
Date: Sunday, January 25, 2009, 8:28 PM

This one was told to me by my Afro-American Mentor back in 1963 or 1964. I
don't have a clue as to its origin though I recall it being one of the Here
Come De Judge skits on Hee Haw. 
Man appears before the judge on vagrancy charges. No visible means of support. 
      Judge: What do you do?
      Man: This and that.
      Judge: Where do you live? 
      Man: Here and there.
      Judge: When do you work?
      Man: Now and then.
      Judge bangs the gavel: Guilty as charged. Bailiff take him away.
      As the man is led away, he turns to the judge: When do i get out?
      Judge: Sooner or later.!
My understanding is this comes from the old Negro tradition of "Doing the
Dozens" popular in the cities fifty years ago. 
I welcome the input of those more knowledgable than I on these traditions.
Though years ago I read for a course in Sociology the book (pre Black Power)
Tally's Corner. A Study of  Negro Street Corner Men. which was written
about the U Street Area of DC by a white sociologist. 
DC was the melding place of both southern rural black and northern urban black
traditions. The melding reminds me of the famous JFK jest that DC was an example
of southern efficency and northern charm. :)
The book though specific to time and place is of wider interest as DC was the
northern terminus of the so-called "Chicken Bone" express passenger
trains which brought mostly black folks from the Carolinas. Since they did not
eat in the dining cars, they brought fried chicken box lunches with them. I am
not sure if Jim Crow still reigned then but the Seaboard Air Line rr was the
main corridor north in those days. In any case they would have been too poor to
eat in the dining car.
Carter Rila, el Cutachero

The American Dialect Society -

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