Ukulele Jokes from the 1920s

Here are some jokes from the 1920s involving the ukulele. The first is about a ‘flapper’, which was a term used to describe a young woman of a certain disposition. The photo below might prepare you for what is to follow.



A flapper walked into a music store and asked to see some ukuleles. The clerk [sales representative] showed her a  few and she couldn’t decide between a Martin and a Gibson. She seemed to favour the Gibson a trifle, the clerk thought, so thinking to help her he said: ‘Better take the Gibson, Miss, You can’t go wrong with a Gibson ukulele.’ Quick as a flash, the young lady replied: ‘Gimme the Martin, then.’

Then there was the story of Mr Mortimer K. Plushbottom, the inventor of the ukulele sound hole. His idea was to sell these sound holes to music shops to give away to potential customers. Once a person has a ukulele sound hole, they’ll want a ukulele, or so Plushbottom believed.

Anyway, Plushbottom resolved in 1928 to run for President of the USA, on the strength of his services to ukulele players of America (remember the sound holes). He thought 50 000 000 ukulele players can’t be wrong.

Of his promised reforms, the following item stood out:

The first plank in my platform will favour the immediate execution of all saxophone players and a constitutional amendment making ukulele playing compulsory.

I wonder what became of Mortimer and his ideas…

Quotations adapted from From “Tom Foolery” in the Music Trade Review 86, 10 (1928), p. 22, reproduced courtesy of The International Arcade Museum and the Musical Box Society International.

UPDATE (30 Jan 2010) from the New Zealand Truth: the people’s paper (3 January 1925):

The ukulele is running a neck-and-neck race with the saxophone. Unless the saxophone fais through lung troubles, the “Critic” backs it to kill all opposition — and supporters.

Sounds really nasty…

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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