Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » 19th Century Knock Knock Jokes

19th Century Knock Knock Jokes

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 12, 2008

In our (that’s the editorial “our”) Salutatory, Mark IV commented on “how hilariously cool it is to think of Orson Pratt discoursing in the tabernacle for an hour on Sunday on the subject of spirit fluid, then on Monday going into the office of Keepapitchinin to write the 19th century equivalent of knock knock jokes under a pseudonym.” While we (the editorial “we” again) can’t vouch for which of the Keepapitchinin‘s writers contributed any particular item, here is a sample of what passed for knee-slapping humor in Mormondom, circa 1870:


Misses Sippi is on her way from Saint Paul to New Orleans.


They met, ’twas on the sidewalk, and he thought to cut a swell, so he raised his hat politely, bent his body like an L. She then bowed and smiled so sweetly that he thought her very nice, quite forgetting for the moment that he stood upon the ice. Thus little recking what he did, or how he stood, or where, his head approached the sidewalk, and his heels went up in air, while he sternly and with violence on the pavement took his seat,* and with a very sheepish look picked himself up, and the way he put round the corner isn’t very often beat.

*The concussion was felt distinctly for several blocks.



We gave some “hints to farmers” which were so well received that we feel constrained to offer a few on another subject; i.e., Street Etiquette.

If you meet a friend at the door of the theater, or Post Office, and wish to converse with him, locate yourself in the center of the doorway; this will enable you to see clearly all who pass and prevent being crowded against either side of the door. Don’t pay any attention to the peevish remarks of those who are crushed out of shape in passing by.

A street crossing on a muddy day is a splendid place for these little interviews.

Never let a lady pass you, under any circumstances, without staring her in the face in a familiar manner. You will thus know her if you meet her again, and she will be very apt to remember you.

If you use a cane, always carry it under your arm, with the point sticking out behind; people in a hurry may run against it, and it will learn them a lesson.

All your spare time should be employed in lounging around the entrance of one of the principal stores. When tired, you can sit on the doorstep and squirt tobacco juice into the street; or can – this being a free country – go in and lie down on the counter. If there is anything eatable about, taste it and ask the price. You can also ask the clerks the prices of other articles occasionally. This will at once afford them pleasure and occupation. Do not fail to mention that you can get the same quality of so-and-so considerably cheaper.

If a lady should succeed in getting past you into the store, and desires to purchase anything, be sure to lean over her shoulder and examine minutely the texture of the fabric, the cost per yard, etc. You can thus obtain a fund of valuable information, extend your acquaintance indefinitely, and, at the same time, make yourself generally agreeable.


Oh! for a gentle,
Loving wife –
It is the
Heart’s desire!

A tender, truthful,
Trusting soul –
To rise and
Light the fire.


Gentle Reader;

Although candor compels us to admit that our paper – for originality, versatility, perspicacity, quality of paper and beauty of execution, has already attained a position unrivalled in the annals of English literature – the end is not yet. We have, in this number more than fulfilled the promise of our prospectus by one whole column pregnant with volumes of vital interest to humanity and the world (at large.)

Picayuneary considerations have no weight with us. We intend – regardless of expense – to go right on, enlarging and improving and embellishing until our enlightened and discriminating readers, the intelligent and enterprising citizens of this vast Territory, from the northern border of Alaska to the torrid extremity of Cape Horn shall bask in the genial rays of its anthropomological sonorosity.


H.O.G. is forsaken by his affianced – can’t live without her – wants our advice. We say to H.O.G., Be a man – Subscribe for, and read incessantly, the Keepapitchinin, and it will have a tendency to distract your mind.


When Sally’s arms
Her dog imprison,
I always wish,
My neck was his’n;

How often would I
Stop and turn
To get a pat from
A hand like her’n!

And when she kisses
Towser’s nose,
Oh! don’t I wish
That I were those!


How long can a goose stand on one foot? Try it; that’s the way the goose found out.


“Izzy Lazarus is dead, they say.” – “Dead, is he?”




  1. My favorite, without question, is the sarcastic “Rules of Conduct.” Awesome.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 12, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  2. What J said. Those simply are hilarious. I also liked the one about the goose.

    Comment by Ray — May 12, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  3. I like all of them, I think they’re better than knock knock jokes. I also like how the original editor went by the name of Uno Hoo.

    Comment by Mark IV — May 12, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  4. I personally am a big proponent of “anthropomological sonorosity.” In fact, it’s a key part of my platform.

    Comment by William Morris — May 12, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

  5. I really enjoy this site and I’m behaving myself so as not to get banned, but I am tempted – oh, how I am tempted – to make comments with the name of Izzy Lazarus or Mrs. Ippi.

    Ardis, if that ever happens, you probably won’t have far to look for the malefactor.

    Comment by Mark IV — May 12, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

  6. Mark IV, be my guest — it’ll be a hoot. If UnoHoo and Biz Ness were good enough for the originals, why shouldn’t we all have some fun, too?

    Thank you gentlemen for coming by. I hope you know how much I appreciate your encouragement for a new project like this, and I’ll do my best to come up with something that makes it worth while to check in regularly.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 12, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  7. I owe this to my old friend Lorenzo Brown, but one of the best lines I’ve heard that came out of 19th century Mormonism was Heber C. Kimball’s exhortation to the single men to “Go to it and get married. Or, I should say, get married and go to it.” (When time permits, I’ll get a citation for that.)

    Comment by Mark B. — May 12, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  8. #7 – Yeah, those uptight early Mormons were SO prudish. I’ll file that one away and tell it to my kids in a few years.

    Comment by Ray — May 12, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  9. “If you use a cane, always carry it under your arm, with the point sticking out behind; people in a hurry may run against it, and it will learn them a lesson.”

    Very cool, UnoHoo. :)

    Comment by Kaimi — May 14, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  10. The writing style reminds me a lot of Peck’s “bad boy” which must date to the same period. (I have a partial copy of Peck’s Compendium of Fun – pages 33 through 538 so I don’t have any of the publication information)

    Comment by Eric Boysen — May 14, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

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