Mary Pettibone Poole? W. E. Nesom? George F. Worts? H. L. Mencken? Joe Laurie Jr.? Franklin P. Adams? Anonymous?

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Dear Quote Investigator: over there is a well known proverb the asserts the last human to laugh is the human being who laughs the best or the longest. Ns am interested in a cleverly modification statement emphasizing the connection in between humor and also longevity:

He who laughs—lasts.

You are watching: He who laughs last laughs best

Would friend please discover this saying?

Quote Investigator: For plenty of years this comical remark has actually been ascribed to mary Pettibone sheet who published a compilation the quotations and quips in 1938 through the vividly absurdist location “A Glass Eye in ~ a Keyhole”. Poole put this hoax in a section “Beggars Can’t it is in Losers”: 1

He that laughs, lasts!

None the the declaration in Poole’s occupational were given attributions, and also some were most likely original; however, countless were not. QI have the right to now report some earlier instances of the joke above.

In November 1917 the humor magazine “Judge” printed a poem by W. E. Nesom title “Perverted Proverbs” the playfully modification adages. The 5th stanza to be the following. Boldface has actually been added to excerpts: 2

If laughter it is in an help to health,Then reasonable of the strongestImpels united state to the cheerful thoughtThat he that laughs big longest.

The over citation was located by peak researcher Stephen Goranson, and also W. E. Nesom may have been the originator that this proverbial twist. Currently, this is the earliest evidence known to QI.

Below are added selected citations in chronological order.

In 1926 “Munsey’s Magazine” released a novelette titled “The Not difficult He” by George F. Worts that consisted of the following passage: 3

“You just said you love my feeling of humor, Jord. So perform I. I just adore my sense of humor. You’ve heard the old proverb, haven’t you—he that laughs—lasts?”

So, in 1926 the quip was already being explained as one “old proverb”. This version omitted words “longest” and also was a bit much more concise than the 1917 instance.

In February 1934 the mass-circulation periodic “Reader’s Digest” released the speak in a section dubbed “Patter” that featured items sent in by readers. No attribution was listed: 4

He who laughs—lasts.

In 1934 “The Times-Picayune” newspaper of brand-new Orleans, Louisiana published an instance in the section of the periodical because that ‘Young People”. The expression was enclosed in quotation clues indicating that it was already in circulation: 5

“He who laughs—lasts”…..someone need to start a “Bright Sayings of Geometry Teachers” column.

In 1938 mar Pettibone Poole included the remark in she compilation the witticisms called “A Glass Eye in ~ a Keyhole” as listed previously.

In 1942 the prominent commentator H. L. Mencken put the adage in his enormous tome “A new Dictionary of quote on Historical ethics from ancient and modern-day Sources”. Mencken provided credit to Poole: 6

He that laughs, lasts.MARY PETTIBONE POOLE: A Glass Eye at the Keyhole, 1938

In 1949 the popular columnist Earl Wilson published a publication called “Let ‘Em Eat Cheesecake”, and he ascribed the remark to “a small ex-vaudeville fellow, currently on the radio”: 7

What Joe Laurie, Jr., stated was:“He who laughs, lasts.”

In 1952 the influential columnist Franklin Pierce Adams printed the speak in his collection “FPA book of Quotations” and credited Poole: 8

He who laughs, lasts.—MARY PETTIBONE sheet (contemporary)A Glass Eye at the Keyhole

In conclusion, the earliest instance known come QI showed up in a poem by W. E. Nesom in 1917, and it was feasible that that crafted this quip. The 2nd earliest circumstances was created by George F. Worts in 1926. This version was an ext concise. Mar Pettibone Poole aided to popularize the joke, but she did no construct it.

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Image Notes: Cropped section of the paint “The Young Rembrandt together Democritus the Laughing Philosopher” by Rembrandt via WikiArt.

(Many thanks to Dennis Lien for accessing and examining “A Glass Eye in ~ a Keyhole”. An excellent thanks to Stephen Goranson because that locating and also sharing the 1919 citation.)


Posted on march 15, 2015February 16, 2020Author quoteresearchCategories H.L. Mencken, mar Pettibone PooleTags Franklin P. Adams, George F. Worts, H.L. Mencken, Joe Laurie Jr., mary Pettibone Poole

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