[Ads-l] the Good News Bad News joke routine

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 28 06:48:16 UTC 2019

>From the Cincinnati Enquirer, October 11, 1942, section 3, page 7, Syd Skolsky's Hollywood, crediting a cartoon in the Mexican magazine, Rumbo.
"What's new?"
"I have some good news and some bad news."
"What's the good news?"
"Hitler has been murdered."
"And what's the bad news?"
"The news that Hitler was murdered is not true."


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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2019 11:02:58 PM
Subject: Re: the Good News Bad News joke routine

---------------------- 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: the Good News Bad News joke routine

The English StackExchange article that Benjamin helpfully pointed to
has a section titled:
'I have some good news and some bad news' as a joke setup

The earliest citation in the section is dated 1966. Here is an
instance that fits the joke template in 1960. I omitted a few
sentences from the excerpt below. Please follow the link to read the
full text of the joke, if you are interested.

Date: August 14, 1960
Newspaper: Independent Star-News
Newspaper Location: Pasadena, California
Section: Parade Magazine - Newspaper Supplement
Article: My favorite jokes
Author: Jack Douglas
Quote Page 19, Column 1 and 2
Database: Newspapers.com


[Begin excerpt]
OUT IN LAS VEGAS a syndicate of financiers got together, decided to
build a new hotel, the biggest, best, most lavish hotel in town.
. . .
In two weeks the real estate expert asked for a conference.
"Gentlemen," he began, "I have some good news and some bad news for
you. Which do you want first?"
The investors asked for the good news.
"I succeeded," said the expert, "in setting up the entire deal, land
and structure, not for $18 million, but for $16 million."
The investors smiled at each other.
"But now," he continued, "here's the bad news. They want $500 down in cash.=
[End excerpt]


On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 12:35 AM Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com> wr=
> I looked briefly for citations. After finding several, I found a page tha=
t discusses the issue:
> https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/258235/origin-first-known-use=
-of-the-phrase-ive-got-some-good-news-and-some-bad-news <https://english.st=
> Here are some earlier citations that possibly set the stage for the good =
news/bad news joke.
> 1. Shakespeare
> Antony and Cloepatra
> https://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/shakespeare/antony-and-cleopatra/page_1=
04/ <https://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/shakespeare/antony-and-cleopatra/pag=
> ****
> Though it be honest, it is never good
> To bring bad news. Give to a gracious message
> An host of tongues, but let ill tidings tell
> Themselves when they be felt.
> ####
> ####
> 2. http://tinyurl.com/yy246bkd <http://tinyurl.com/yy246bkd>
> The king's mail, Volume 3
> Henry Holl
> 1863 (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011697436 <https://catalog.ha=
> ****
> She had a medley of ill news, good news, bad news, capital news, all jumb=
led and huddled together in an impossible heap.
> =E2=80=A6
> But Polly's good and bad news were not done yet; =E2=80=A6.
> ####
> ####
> 2. Here is a collection of proverbs from European languages.
> http://tinyurl.com/yxm4mtyb
> Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages: Classified Subjectively and Arr=
anged Alphabetically, Volume 2
> Robert Christy
> 1893
> ****
> Bad news is the first to come.   _Ital._
> =E2=80=A6
> No news is good news.   _Fr., Ital._
> ####
> ####
> For the first, I found a handful of Googits for "La notizia buona vola le=
ntamente quella cattiva rapidamente.=E2=80=9D
> For the second
> French: Pas de nouvelles, bonnes nouvelles
> Italian: Nessuna notizia, buona notizia
> Whether these influenced English, at least the idea was circulating in Eu=
> Benjamin Barrett
> Formerly of Seattle, WA
> > On 27 Jun 2019, at 18:18, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
> >
> > wondering about when it became a formula, as part of a look at a Rhymes=
 With Orange strip in which two cartoon memes (Desert Island and Grim Reape=
r) are combined:
> >
> > 6/27/19: The Desert Island Reaper:
> >
> > https://arnoldzwicky.org/2019/06/27/the-desert-island-reaper/
> >
> > (the good news is that a boat is coming to the desert island; the bad n=
ews is that it's being steered by the Grim Reaper)
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

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