[Ads-l] Joke: "What do you think of his execution?" "I'm in favor of it"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 3 06:49:12 UTC 2015

Off-list, Barry noted an earlier version that was circulating in 1904.
It originally appeared as the caption of a cartoon in _Brooklyn Life_
on July 2, 1904:

Professional Jealousy.
"So you went to Dr. Pedal's piano recital, eh? Tell me, what do you
think of his execution."
"To be thoroughly frank with you, I think he thoroughly deserved it."

On Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 2:36 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 1:33 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>> Barry Popik asked me off-list to explore a quip attributed to the
>> football coach John McKay. After a poorly played game McKay was asked
>> about his team's execution, and he replied with comic harshness, "I'm
>> in favor of it."
>> I decided to broaden the topic and look for general instances of the
>> joke. Below are five selected citations. In 1907 the barb was aimed at
>> an individual instead of a team. The U.K. humor magazine Punch was
>> acknowledged. This joke appeared in several periodicals.
>> [ref] 1907 March 19, San Diego Union, The Extreme Penalty (Filler
>> item), Quote Page 6, Column 5, San Diego, California.
>> (GenealogyBank)[/ref]
>> [Begin excerpt - two hyphens are used for a dash]
>> The Extreme Penalty.--She (to fellow listener at musicale)--"What do
>> you think of his execution?" He--"I'm in favor of it,"--Punch.
>> [End excerpt]
>> The same joke was presented in the form of a caption to a one panel
>> comic depicting a woman and man exchanging lines while a pianist
>> played in the background.
>> [ref] 1907 April 13, Trenton Evening Times, Section: Comics, (Caption
>> of single panel comic titled "The Extreme Penalty"), Quote Page 12,
>> Trenton, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank)[/ref]
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> She: "What do you think of his execution?"
>> He: "I'm in favor of it."
>> [End excerpt]
> The one-panel cartoon originally appeared in the Feb. 13, 1907 issue
> of Punch (p. 113):
> https://books.google.com/books?id=tggIAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA113
> (Of course, it's spelled "favour" in the original.)

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

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