No Soap Radio
Theories of origin
It seems everyone has a theory where this joke came from.
In fact, more than one person claims to have invented it personally!
Here are excerpts from each theory to let you judge them for yourself:
- When I was at art school in the late 70s I told it to a jaded New York friend who didn't laugh (I ALWAYS laugh at this). He proceeded to tell me, with the air of one enlightening the afflicted, that the joke originated in the 1930s as part of a research project - which involved telling a unfunny joke to participants just to see if they would laugh because they'd been told it was a joke.
- I can pre-date this "Joke" back to at least 1968 when we were busting on several "not- in the knows" at a keg party. My good friend and partner in crime swears he made it up, but in a drunken state admitted that he had heard it on Soupy Sales. Soupy was taunting his unseen sidekicks, White Fang and Black Tooth
- The only rational connection I make is that in those days [late 1940s] a lot of soap operas were on radio.
- During the 1930s to 50s, soap opera "serials" were common on the radio rather than on TV and were disliked just as roundly by "prime time" radio listeners as soap operas are by the sitcom TV crowd today. "No soap radio" was an advertising slogan used by radio stations that eschewed serials, to attract the more trendy listening demographic.
- In about 1971, four cousins decided to make up a joke that made no sense at all (no punchline). Then we would tell it to our parents and then plan was that we would laugh and laugh and see if anyone of them would laugh. [...] The authors were: Nita, Leslie, Lisa, and Nancy
Lisa [No Last Name Provided]
- I swear to God, on my mother's eyes, I invented the original "No soap, Radio" joke. [...] sometime between 1965 and 1968 [...] I'm not making this up, and I swear, at age 15 or 16, I had never heard the punch line, "No soap, radio," [...] and I have no idea why or how it entered my head. [A]s God is my witness, I AM the "No soap, radio" guy, and proud of it.
- In 1966 [...] it was made up off the top of Les [Luhring's] head. There are witnesses to this fact, and I assure you, this is the real history of this joke.
- The No Soap Radio joke was [...] never intended to be anything but trying to trick others into believing the punch line had some real significance. Les is still doing this type of thing today. I write in hopes of lending some credibility to Les' claim.
- I first heard this joke around 1956 while I was going to a Navy Aviation Electronics Training School in Millington, Tennessee. Might possibly have been the point of origin since radio was part of the punch line.
- [...]my two best friends and I wrote the joke at age 12 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts close to 1963.
- I recall hearing the actual joke some time in the 50's and it had something to do with WW2.
- The girl that told us this in high school (circa 1980) said she made it up on the spot.
- I read a detective story from the '50s where the guy uses the expression "No soap" like someone might say "No dice", "No luck" etc. For example, "I checked to see if he left his fingerprints on the gun.. no soap". It got me thinking that maybe this joke made sense at one time.
In 1974 a buddy and I wrote a book of sorts [...] It consisted of [...] plays, [...] games, [...] stories and [...] jokes. One is [No Soap Radio] Alas our “book” only had the one copy, and at one point spent time in the custody of the police. We now have no idea where it might be.
- In yesterday's New York Time's crossword puzzle, there was this clue: "forget it!" The answer: "no soap."
- As a writer, I wanted to try and tackle the "No soap. Radio." paradox. Here's the result: "At Last, It makes Sense!"