PhonoJokes and PhonoHumor



The Red Cloud Republican, January 11, 1890


The Red Cloud Republican, June 7, 1895


(Source: Nebraska State Journal, June 28, 1895)


Coroner. -- What killed the man?

Druggist. -- I don't know. He was listening to the phonograph and fell over dead.

Coroner. -- What tune have you in the machine?

Druggist.' -- Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay.

(Source: The Phonoscope, Aprill 1898)


"Dora's a bright girl."


"Yes. I started to propose to her the other night and she brought out a phonograph and made me repeat the proposal into the machine, and that isn't the worst of it, either."


"No. After I got through she politely thanked me and said she was making a collection."

(Source: The Phonoscope, October 1898)

An exhibitor gave an entertainment in a church recently at the conclusion of which he packed up his paraphennalia. As he was about to depart he picked up his carrying-case, the latch of which was unfastened and out fell every one of the seventy-two records contained therein. Being in church he could not give vent to his feelings and didn't feel inclined to pray, so he remarked: "Well, that settles it; the last time I went to church I was married. This time I have broken every one of my records. Well, I will never go to church again; it's a Jonah for me."

(Source: The Phonoscope, August 1899)


I've had a couple of Phonographs stolen," yelled a music dealer as he rushed into the station house.

"Never mind," replied a detective. "I'll get the thief. It's a single man."

"How do you know?"

"Because no married man would steal a talking machine."

(Source: The Phonogram, 1900)


Nebraska State Journal, June 8, 1900


"Heavens, Maria! Was that Phonograph open during the cat fight?"

"No. I turned it on last night when you were sleeping. Perhaps you will believe now that you snore."

Life as reprinted by The Phonogram, February 1901


Mrs. Wisely -- John, I was just reading about a man who traded his wife for a phonograph. Now isn't that horrible?

Mr. Wisely -- Not at all, Mary; a phonograph will not talk without winding. He knew his business.

(Source: New York Evening Sun as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, April 1903)



"Goodness, Maria, was that Phonograph open during a dog fight?"

"No, I turned it on last night when you were sleeping. Perhaps you will believe now that you snore?"

(Source: Talking Machine News as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1903)



"I see," said Mrs. Rolande Parke, "that a machine has been invented to shave a man and take the place of the barber."

"Well, I be durned!" exclaimed her spouse; "it's funny the number of uses they can put the Phonograph to, ain't it?"

(Source: Baltimore News as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1903)


Lithograph from Judge 1896 showing the automated barbershop of the future and the Phonograph as the "Proxy" for barber talk.



Duffer -- You ought to buy a talking machine. There's nothing like one to keep a fellow home nights.

Suffer -- Buy one? I married one. That's what keeps me out.

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, November 1903)


The engagement is off. He was calling, and she pleasantly said: “I sang into a phonograph to-day.”

“Indeed,” he replied, innocently. “I suppose you broke the record.”

Humor of the Day, Longmont Ledger, January 29, 1904



An amateur flutist once stopped in at a fair where a talking machine company had an elaborate exhibit, and showed such an interest in the talking machines that the attendant thought a sale was imminent, and worked very hard to effect it.

"I see you have your flute with you," he said, finally. "Suppose you play a brief selection, and I will make a record of it, and you will then be able to hear the machine reproduce it exactly."

The suggestion pleased the amateur musician, and the idea was carried out.

"Is that an exact reproduction of my music?" he asked, when the tune was finished.

"It is," replied the attendant.

"Do you wish to buy the talking machine?"

"No," said the other, sadly, as he slowly moved away. "But I'll sell the flute."

(Source: Popular Magazine as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, May 1905)


The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1906


The Juniata Herald, October 30, 1907


"My dear," murmured the sick man to his wife, "I am nearing the golden streets. I hear strains of sweetest music, unearthly in its beauty, I ---"

"John," said the wife, "what you hear is a Phonograph in the next flat."

"So it is. Darn those people anyhow. No consideration for their neighbors. Go and tell 'em to stop that infernal racket at once."

(Source: Exchange as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, October 1907)



His Wife -- Why is it you never start up the phonograph any more, John?

Her Husband -- There is no harmony in two talking-machines running simultaneously, my dear.

(Source: Music Trades as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, October 1907)



The Phonograph is not a new invention, for the Garden of Eden had 'em. The first talking machine was made from the spare rib of Adam.

(Source: Jingle from a 1906 post card with Eve and Adam as a Phonograph as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1907)




The Juniata Herald, February 25, 1908


The Preacher: "We tried a phonograph choir."

The Sexton: "What success?"

The Preacher: "Fine. Nobody knew the difference till a deacon went to the loft to take up the collection."

(Source: Talking Machine World, March 15, 1908, p.43)

Illustration by L. M. Glackens from Library of Congress Recorded Sound Collection RS-17 2357


The Talking Machine World, April 15, 1908


The Juanita Herald, March 19, 1909


Postcard, Banforth & Co. Holmfirth, c. 1910


The Little Doctor

"What's the matter with this Phonograph?" asks the man, puzzledly listening.

"Why, papa," explains the helpful little son, "I heard you say last night that some of the Records sounded hoarse, so I put a little of that cough syrup in the horn this morning." -- Chicago Post

(Source: reprinted by The New Phonogram, February 1910)



Another Version of the Phonograph's First Words

The great inventor himself worked over the phonograph, reciting "Mary had a Little Lamb" into it distinctly for nearly an hour without audible result.

At last he lost patience, and slammed the thing down with a jilt, exclaiming: "Talk, damn you! Why in blazes don't you talk?"

Then suddenly, the phonograph broke its long silence, and squeaked out to Mr. Edison's horror: "Damn you! Why in blazes don't you talk?"

(Source: Talking Machine World, c. 1910)



"Some men are like phonographs; everyday they reel off exactly the same records." (Source: Montreal Star, January 12, 1911)



Impresario -- Mr. Westchester fell in love with that beautiful soprano.

Tenor -- I thought he hated women?

Impresario -- He does; it was her voice that charmed him.

Tenor -- And did he marry her?

Impresario -- No; he had some records made of her songs and then bought a phonograph.

(Source: The Talking Machine World, August 18, 1911)


An old merchant of Indiana was asked by his son and partner, "Dad, what shall I get you for Christmas?"

"A talking machine, John" said the old man. "I have always wanted one."

The father received a letter from his son on Christmas morning. It read: "Dear Father:-- You said you wanted a talking machine. Well, I've got you one. I am married, and bringing home my wife."

(Source: The Talking Machine World, Januray 15, 1912)




"Hearing those high-priced opera singers on the phonograph is almost as good as hearing them on the stage."

"Better. You can shut them off whenever you like on the phonograph."

(Source: New York World as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, February 1916)




Sam -- My wife made me recite my New Year's resolutions into the phonograph.

Abe -- What was the idea?

Sam -- She said she wanted to put them on record.

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1916)

Father -- My son, the time has come for you to give up play and go to work.

Son -- You're wrong, father. I know of a way to combine work and play. I'll get a job demonstrating phonographs.

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1916)



Man (in car, to man sitting in corner) -- I firmly believe that it is a man's duty to share any good luck he may have with his wife. For instance, when he makes a little extra profit he ought to buy her a phonograph or a piano.

Man in corner -- A good idea! Er--are you a social philosopher, sir?

The Other-- No; I'm a retail dealer in talking-machines and pianos.

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, March 1916)


First Kid -- We got a phonygraph at our house.

Second Kid -- So've we. We got ours on the insolvent plan.

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, May 1916)



"There's no pleasing some people," said the janitor.

"What's the trouble?"

"A family upstairs telephones me that they were trying to play "The Anvil Chorus' on the phonograph, and wouldn't I please regulate the knocking of the radiator so as to keep in time with the music."

(Source: The Edison Phonograph Monthly, May 1916)




Judge -- "So you say words passed between the husband and wife in this case. Did you hear what they were?"

Witness -- "No, but I saw them. He threw a phonograph record at her!"

(Source: Town Talk as quoted in The Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1916)




"The girl in the phonograph place we patronize nightly is just full of affection."

"But she must, consider that it is her business to put on airs."

(Source: Baltimore American as quoted in Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1916)



Edison Phonograph Monthly, July 1916



Edison Phonograph Monthly, August 1916



Edison Phonograph Monthly, December 1916

Knock Out at the End of Three Rounds - New Diamond Amberola Gets Decision

Dealers Who Attend Phonograph, Incs., convention in Atlanta, Witness Lively Sporting Event - Two Old Antagonists Meet in Three Round Fight to Finish. "Talking Machine" Squeals as Usual.

"Talking Machine," a has-been who cannot come back, was defeated by "New Edison Diamond Amberola," the present dominating figure in the phonograph world. It was a conclusive victory and emphasizes forever the unquestioned superiority of the New Edison Diamond Amberola over talking-machines."




"Where's the Band?" Jokes

A countryman dropped into the bar at the village hotel and called for a drink.

Just as he was about to stow it beneath his vest the Phonograph began to play one of the popular cake walks. A look akin to terror came over his face. He set his glass down on the bar and making a bolt for the door exclaimed:

"Gee Willikins! there comes the Warren band down the street and I forgot to tie my horses."

(Source: Democrat, Warren, Pa. 1900)


A farmer came in while The Farm Yard Medley was being played on an Edison for the benefit of a customer. After listening a few moments the farmer says, "Say! the telephone is a great thing ain't it; I tell you that feller at the other end is a great singer, well, well, it beats me all out."

(Source: The Phonogram, February 1901) - Listen to Cylinder 4276: Copy 2 Courtesy UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive



A Mistaken Conception

Mrs. O'Flaherty. (Contemplating the nickel-in-the-slot phonograph.) -- Arrah, murth Patrick, phwat the divil's that?

Mr. O'Flaherty. Sure, Bridget, that's the phoneygraph.

Mrs. O'Flaherty. Pho-nay-graph is it? And phwat do it do standing there wid a rubber hose and a glass case loike an ay-quay-rium?

Mr. O'Flaherty. Faith and its the woonder av the age. It's the talkin machine.

Mrs. O'Flaherty. G'lang wid yer now. Talkin is it? A phwat does it say?

Mr. O'Flaherty. Sure is ye drop a nickel-in-the-slot there's nothing they'll not do for you!

Mrs. O'Flaherty. And has it a voice to it?

Mr. O'Flaherty. Whist, Bridget! Don't expose yer ignorance. Oi'll drop foive cents in the slot, ye put the spakeing tube to yer ears and--be hevvins--y'ill hear yer correct weight.

(Source: The Phonogram, December 1892)

A countryman put the ear tubes to his ear, the machine started and he listened to one verse of "Mollie and I and the Baby," by Geo. J. Gaskin. He put down the tubes and said, "I'll wait until some else come in." When asked why, he replied he didn't wan't the singer to bust his big throat just for him. Not believing the operators' explanation of how the machine worked he contemptuously replied, "Mister, you're a darned Yankee, and I am from the back blocks. If I am from the country, you can't fool me. You've got that bloke down in the cellar."

(Source: The Phonogram, April 1902, p.90)


The following is an article using the same theme of mistaking the source of music for live when the source is in reality a phonograph. In this case a Columbia 20th Century Phonograph is playing from a third story building and "heard distinctly for many blocks around," and a number of people thought it to be the "premature arrival of the circus..."


The Talking Machine World, July 1906



Post 1930 Jokes


"Say! You haven't stopped talking since we got here! You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle!"

(Source: Groucho Marx, Duck Soup, 1933)



School Jokes - Crazy Definitions

Two penguins are standing around the South Pole.

One says to the other, "Do you have a bar of soap?"

The other replies, "No, but I have a phonograph record."



Q: Why did the cowboy saddle up the phonograph record?

A: He wanted to be a disc jockey.


GRANDPA was an old- fashioned, Victorian music teacher who lived parsimoniously but couldn't resist a bargain. Once when I visited him, he met me in a state of mildly suppressed excitement.

"Come and see what I got at a sale," he said. He produced two long-playing jazz records - and Grandpa was no jazz buff. I didn't think he even knew what jazz was. Well, he hauled out the old windup phonograph and prepared to play the first record. I was horrified.

"You can't play that record on that phonograph," I spluttered. "It's a long-playing microgroove record. The needle will ruin it."

"Nonsense," he snapped. "It's a record. That's a record player."

His face was a study as he listened to the agonizing, squeaky cacophony that flowed from the tired old machine as it ground around.

With an air of finality, he took the record off, closed the machine and said, "Well, if that's jazz, I don't like it."

(Source: Readers Digest)


1877 - Having just invented the phonograph, Thomas Edison makes the first recording ever "Mary Had A Little Lamb". Just three weeks later, the Puff Daddy re-mix appears.



Floyd: "Hey, can you believe it? The frog wants us to dance on a phonograph record?"

Janice: "Rully. I'd rather dance on the floor."

(Source: The Muppet Show 2 Album: "At the Dance")

"Today is Thomas Edison's birthday. You know who I feel sorry for? Thomas Edison's brother. Imagine growing up in shop class making an electric lamp, the phonograph, he invents the movie camera. You're there with your stupid ceramic ashtray. "

(Source: Jay Leno, The Tonight Show, February 11, 2003 )





Taylor Swift - Red (Taylor's Version) (Target Exclusive, Vinyl) (4 LP) 2021

Following the release of Taylor Swift's new 4 LP limited edition album Red (only available at Target) in November 2021 there were some negative reviews written.. Several buyers complained that the records were defective since it sounded like a man singing on all of the tracks. One person noted that she tried to play the record on a second turntable and had the same issue!

The problem, however, wasn't a defective but rather the simple fact that these records were designed to be played at 45 rpm, not 33 1/3 rpm.

Although one would think these users might have realized something was wrong with the speed they probably didn't grow up when part of the fun of playing a record was changing the speed from 45 to 78 and turning a song into an "Alvin and the Chipmunks" rendition.

In their defense, however, if an album is sold as an LP (i.e., "long playing") there is the popular culture definition of an LP and historical expectation that an LP plays at a speed of 33 1/3 rpm.

The "About this Item" on Target's webpage for Swift's 4 LP Target Exclusive does note in the "Highlights" section • Play at 45 rpm for optimal sound quality.

Their "Specifications" section, however, only notes: Software Format: Vinyl

Friends of the Phonograph, therefore, give Target a half Pinocchio (actually .45) for calling Swift's album an LP and for not clearly noting it played at 45 rpm.

To clarify the "misunderstanding" a user posted the following on Target's "share your pics" section to note that "some records play at 45 rpm (rotations per minute) this is one."


This information was also added to Target's website (in their share your pics).