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#1
Old 05-17-2005, 02:27 PM
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F*** 'em if they can't take a joke.

I'm hoping someone can tell me the origin of this quote, because I can't remember where I first heard it.

And, no, it's not Broken Arrow with John Travolta. I belive it was before that, but, as I said, I can't remember.
#2
Old 05-17-2005, 02:38 PM
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My dad's been saying it since John Travolta was famous the first time. It's just a saying.

--Cliffy
#3
Old 05-17-2005, 03:00 PM
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Well, it's the motto of the Church of the SubGenius, dating back at least to page 3 of SubGenius Pamphlet #1, which I believe was first published in 1979. (Wikipedia claims 1980, official Church doctrine is that "Bob" founded the Church in 1953, but official Church doctrine, in accordance with official Church doctrine, is full of shit.)

It was also the name of the Dictators' live album in 1981.

Both of those data points indicate a late-70's origin, but I wouldn't be surprised if the phrase originated with the Yippies or some other 60's countercultural source.
#4
Old 05-17-2005, 03:02 PM
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Bette Midler says it in her 1976 Live at Last album, and I'm sure it wasn't original to her.
#5
Old 05-17-2005, 03:09 PM
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FWIW, this is a later cite, but for an earlier (and possibly more popular) film reference than Broken Arrow -- I know it was used in 1983's The Big Chill, spoken by either Harold (Kevin Kline) or Sam (Tom Berenger).
#6
Old 05-17-2005, 05:33 PM
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We were saying "Joke 'em if they can't take a fuck." back in the early 1980s; it was an old saying by then.
#7
Old 05-17-2005, 06:03 PM
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I was hearing it regularly in 1969. Lord knows how old it was at that point. It's not like it's a new sentiment that was suddenly introduced to humankind.
#8
Old 05-17-2005, 06:25 PM
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I've heard it attributed to Lenny Bruce. When was he around, the 60s?
#9
Old 05-17-2005, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myler Keogh
I've heard it attributed to Lenny Bruce. When was he around, the 60s?
I think people tend to attribute just about anything to Lenny Bruce.
#10
Old 05-17-2005, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalGabe
I think people tend to attribute just about anything to Lenny Bruce.

He invented the internet. Once. In 1960.
#11
Old 05-17-2005, 06:41 PM
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Is this actually a saying? In the area I grew up, this sounds like anything any other guy might come up with if he was in a bad mood.
#12
Old 05-17-2005, 07:59 PM
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We said it back in the 1950s and most likely learned it from someone who heard it in the 1940s.
#13
Old 05-17-2005, 09:39 PM
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The first time I heard it was in the mid-60s, and I think it had something to do with Vietnam casualties. But LouisB is probably right.
#14
Old 05-17-2005, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalGabe
I think people tend to attribute just about anything to Lenny Bruce.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoClueBoy
He invented the internet. Once. In 1960.
But it was only up for twenty minutes.
#15
Old 05-17-2005, 10:04 PM
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Another instance (obviously not the first): JD said it in Heathers, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, officer."
#16
Old 05-17-2005, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcards
But it was only up for twenty minutes.
I shall forever curse your name for beating me to that one.
#17
Old 05-18-2005, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myler Keogh
I've heard it attributed to Lenny Bruce. When was he around, the 60s?
He started to become famous in the late 1950's and was a cause celebre in the early '60's. His obscenity trial for saying [blah-blah-blah] was in 1962.

It does sound like something Bruce would say.

--Cliffy
#18
Old 05-18-2005, 10:58 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, guys. I'm surprised it apparently has been around for so long. I still can't quite put my finger on where I remember hearing it from, but thanks (it may have been Heathers, thanks CatFight)
#19
Old 05-18-2005, 11:50 PM
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[Sheer speculation, barely remembered] I thought the original source (no cite) was from some battlefield or other (Vietnam? Korea?), an extremely bitter response to a report of friendly fire. [/Sheer speculation]
#20
Old 05-19-2005, 12:13 AM
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I agree as to a probable military origin. I never heard it said in line with a 'Blue on Blue' incident, only when talking about Those People (the enemy).

Absolutely no evidence however.
#21
Old 05-19-2005, 03:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vibrotronica
It was also the name of the Dictators' live album in 1981.
Yay! I hope you knew that before googling.
#22
Old 12-19-2012, 06:27 PM
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I remember Robin Williams delivering it

Circa 1985. But I can't validate its patrimony online.
#23
Old 12-19-2012, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalGabe View Post
I think people tend to attribute just about anything to Lenny Bruce.
Well, Lenny Bruce said that, too!
#24
Old 12-19-2012, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Is this actually a saying? In the area I grew up, this sounds like anything any other guy might come up with if he was in a bad mood.
Agreed, I don't understand how this could be considered a "saying" anymore than "turn left at the corner", it's just basic statement for a specific circumstance.
#25
Old 12-19-2012, 07:29 PM
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In the early 80's in the Army we said "Fuck 'em in the ass if they can't take a joke."
#26
Old 12-19-2012, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoClueBoy View Post
He invented the internet. Once. In 1960.
I thought that was the date, when he, the actual guilty Jew, confessed to having killed Jesus.
#27
Old 12-19-2012, 10:15 PM
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The saying can be definitively traced back as far as 2005.
#28
Old 12-19-2012, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Civil Guy View Post
[Sheer speculation, barely remembered] I thought the original source (no cite) was from some battlefield or other (Vietnam? Korea?), an extremely bitter response to a report of friendly fire. [/Sheer speculation]
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaftPeople View Post
Agreed, I don't understand how this could be considered a "saying" anymore than "turn left at the corner", it's just basic statement for a specific circumstance.
I too am unfamiliar with it. Can you give some of the set-ups that were used by the various entertainers mentioned?
#29
Old 12-19-2012, 11:17 PM
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We heard it the first day of boot camp in 1967, and it had been around long before that.
#30
Old 12-20-2012, 04:59 AM
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I can't find a cite, but I seem to remember it being a quote from Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones, She lived from 1837 to 1930, so that would be much earlier than any of these other sources.
#31
Old 12-20-2012, 06:03 AM
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I made it up yesterday. Why are you stealing from me?
#32
Old 12-20-2012, 07:18 AM
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There was 'zine whose name I forget* back in the 90s which said 'fuck 'em even if they can take a joke!'


* It had platypus in the title, iirc.
#33
Old 12-20-2012, 09:04 AM
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OK, I'm going to use it even though by now I have a (hazy) sense of when it is appropriate.

Signed,

Mr. Hopeful Witty Comeback
#34
Old 12-20-2012, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
OK, I'm going to use it even though by now I have a (hazy) sense of when it is appropriate.

Signed,

Mr. Hopeful Witty Comeback
It has many, many uses, but usually when you're taking some action that may seem a bit dicey, but the risk to you is actually small. You're out for a few beers and your wife is fine with it. You tell your mates "well, I told her I'd be back at ten, but I'm having another beer; fuck her if she can't take a joke." It's a false bravado, as there is no real consequence to your action.
#35
Old 12-20-2012, 03:29 PM
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I've generally heard it used to make light of something serious. You accidentally kill a bunch of people. "Oh, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke".
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