Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

I love that joke.

It’s very simple and elegant in form (if somewhat morbid in subject). Unlike an ordinary joke it has no setup i.e. it does not create an expectation and then break it. Classic one liners are usually just aphorisms that don’t evoke a story. They just restate something that people already believe true in an interesting way. In this joke, a single continuous sentence causes an entire scene to unfold in the listeners mind.

Can anyone think of a similar joke? I’m starting a collection.

34 thoughts on “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

  1. Other than “…or you’re happy to see me?”, nothing comes to mind…I better go get some sleep. Yaaaawn.

  2. Or in a somewhat different vein: “We have secretly replaced the dilithium with Folger’s Crystals …”

  3. Vince Lombardi, the long ago coach of the most hated Green Bay Packers used to say “If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”. Yes, it is a quote, but a joke at the same time. I use that one all the time here at work with my employees.

  4. “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.” – The Immortal Yogi.
    “The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.” – The Immortal Yogi.

  5. (mildly o/t): I’ve taken to relating jokes and leaving out the punch line. Leave it to the listener to figure out. The ones who get it laugh all the louder. The ones who don’t? Eh, not my problem.

  6. Husband to wife who’s caught him in bed with another woman: “Well, honey, are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”

  7. (Supposedly, the source of the title of Eugene O’Neill’s play THE ICEMAN COMETH) Husband calling upstairs to wife, “Has the Iceman come yet?” Wife replying to husband, “No, but he’s working hard to.”

  8. One more, by George Gobel, during a classic TONIGHT SHOW appearance: “Did you ever get the feeling the world is a tuxedo, and you are a pair of brown shoes?”

  9. A famous British politician (Disraeli?) as he watched a despised rival walk into Parliament—

    “There, but for the grace of God, goes god.”

  10. I’ve always been partial to the rhetorical question, ie:
    “Why is “abbreviation” such a long word?”

  11. He had a military wedding; well, at least there were guns there.


    In (fill in the name of the place you most wish to insult) a formal wedding is one where the shotgun is painted white.

  12. Shannon, look no further than Steven Wright.

    “Is there another word for synonym?”

    “Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?”

    Lastly, “I spilled spot remover on my dog. He’s gone now.”

  13. I was thrown out of college for cheating on my metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. — Woody Allen

  14. After being called a sarcastic ass –
    “I would never insult your intelligence with a sarcastic quip.” (obviously, said in a sarcastic tone)

  15. As a follow up to the Woody Allen one-liner: I was going to go to my metaphysics class, but then I remembered we had proved life was but a dream; so, I decided I might as well sleep in.

  16. The ones I like best are really jokes about jokes:

    “I have a knock-knock joke. You start.”
    A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says “Why the long face?”
    A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender says “What is this, some kind of joke?”

  17. Two men walked into a bar. The third man ducked.

    You can say that to people, and start a stopwatch to measure how long it takes for them to get it.

    But the question about Mrs. Lincoln still tops all of these.

  18. Jim Rose,

    That’s a good one. It’s a perfect one sentence story.

    Now if we could find one that doesn’t involved assassinating presidents.

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