Who first thought it was funny?
August 30, 2009 1:38 PM   Subscribe

What's the origin of the joke about the long, long table?

In many movies and cartoons, there's a joke where a king and queen, or another couple of monetary importance, sit across from one another for a meal at a very, very, long table, so long that they can't talk to each other. Where did this joke come from? Do we know the first mention of it? The most recent examples I can think of are Bugs Bunny and the movie "Coming to America", and there are many others.
posted by Melismata to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The earliest example I can think of is the breakfast sequence in Citizen Kane.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2009

I would guess all of these are parodies of the "breakfast table montage" in Citizen Kane:

...the famous breakfast sequence in which we see the deterioration of a marriage over the breakfast table. Still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage we see the loving couple shoulder to shoulder in an intimate two-shot, the camera placed directly in front of them at eye level.

As the breakfast montage progresses, the couple is seen in a series of one shots: _ rather than as a twosome occupying the same frame. In the final scene of this montage, Welles places husband and wife at the two extremes of the frame, the camera near floor level, the ceiling bearing down on them; the white expanse of the tablecloth stretches between them and serves as a barrier to us, the viewers. He reads his paper, she reads his competitor's. We need go no closer since it is only too obvious that this is the end of their road together.
posted by neroli at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2009

Yeah, what she said.
posted by neroli at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2009

Chippendale was the furniture designer most associated with long dining room tables.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:09 PM on August 30, 2009

TVTropes (as always) has an article on it. It's classified as "Seen it a Million Times," though, so you're probably going to have a tough time finding the original instance.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:06 PM on August 30, 2009

Although, reading through their list of usages, I see one example is a Gibson Girl print dating back to the late 1800s. Based on that, I'm guessing the joke is as almost as old as long dining room tables themselves. (And they are pretty old).
posted by Rhaomi at 10:13 PM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Need advice for Garageband interface   |   Trash day came early. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.