"Only When I Laugh!"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Apr 12 15:32:16 UTC 2013

6 July 1940
...The toughest man I've heard of was a gentleman who had the misfortune to run into an assegai in the Zulu War.
"does it 'urt much?" asked his mate?
"Only when I laugh," he answered.



Stephen Goranson

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:07 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] "Only When I Laugh!"

The once famous punchline of several thematically related jokes.  James
Jones, in _WWII_, asserts its existence during that era.

The earliest ex. I have found:

1947 Leonard Lyons (synd. column) _Salt Lake Tribune_ (Dec. 26) 10: The
bear story now making the rounds concerns the four bear hunters who went to
the Canadian Rockies. They hunted singly all day and returned to the camp
each night. One night only three of them returned. They went searching for
the missing bear hunter. After long hours they came upon a bear - bloody,
mangled and dead. Nearby they found their friend, unconscious. His left arm
was almost severed, his legs were crushed. His scalp was almost off ,and
half his scalp had been clawed away. They made a stretcher and started to
carry him to a medical center. Two men carried him, and the third man
walking beside him asked: "Does it hurt?" The victim opened his one eye and
replied: "Only when I laugh!"


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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

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