Sunday’s New York Post ran a top 50 jokes of the past year list that’s sure to generate reader debate and discussion, much like these lists always set out to accomplish in the first place. And if you read the list closely, you can already see that it’s not necessarily the best or top 50 jokes overall, but merely the favorite jokes from a select group of comedians, accompanied by those comedians listing their favorite jokes from other stand-ups. An odd list to say the least. Few got me literally laughing out loud. I did enjoy the bits picked from John Oliver, Liam McEneaney, Carolyn Castiglia, Marc Maron and Dave Attell.
But the first joke on the list stopped me in my tracks, because I knew I’d heard it before, and not from Roseanne, although she’s given credit for it in the publication. Here’s the joke in question:
A doctor tells a guy: "I have bad news. You have Alzheimer’s, and you have cancer." Guy says, "Thank God I don’t have cancer."
Now I know I’ve heard Gilbert Gottfried tell this joke live onstage last year. And it’s on his CD/DVD, Dirty Jokes (though that doesn’t mean it was his, since that set is a collection of his old favorites, including stock material, right?). Roseanne wrote it down on her blog last December, without attribution other than titling the post, "Great Joke." Wild Willy Parsons also lists it on his joke page. No matter who said it first, it’s certainly not a new joke. I wonder, though, who should get credit for it? The way the Internet works, Roseanne already has gotten cited on many online sites that link to this article. The way the world works, you’d expect Gottfried to get the credit since he recorded it first. Or did he? Who said this joke first? Who wrote it? Do you know? Where did you hear it first?