Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Presley and Joe Miller died today

For all you ever wanted to know about this meeting, click here.
Elvis left us on this day in 1977.

The King should therefore be in heavy rotation on your iPod or other music machine today.

But today also marks the anniversary of the death of Joe Miller. Miller, a renowned English actor in his day, died in 1738.

In 1739, after Miller's death, another Englishman brought out a book entitled Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-Mecum. The joke book sold well, capitalizing on the late actor's fame, and it was followed by other editions and books, all employing Miller's name in one way or another, to the point where "a Joe Miller" or "Millerism" entered the language as a synonym for joke. Thus, according to Wikipedia, in A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens has Ebeneezer Scrooge exclaim, on Christmas morning, when he sends the lad to buy the fat turkey, "Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending [the turkey] to Bob's will be!"

Eventually a Millerism came to mean a particular kind of time-worn joke, namely, one so old that even Milton Berle wouldn't steal it.

And, today, at least until now, you have probably never heard of Joe Miller. You are not alone. Thus Hallmark merely proclaims today National Tell a Joke Day. But keeps the flame alive, insisting that today is Joe Miller's Joke Day, and that got our crack Research Staff to thinking.

For once.

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