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The Smithsonian Is Looking For Help Transcribing Phyllis Diller's Joke Catalog

Phyllis Diller was one of the most prolific comedians of all time, and she wrote enough jokes during her fifty plus years in showbiz to fill an entire card catalog- 52,569 "gags" to be exact.

Phyllis' method for cataloging her jokes involved literally typing them out on index cards and filing them all away in her "gag file", made up of 48 drawers categorized by subject.

Phyllis donated her gag file to the Smithsonian Institution in 2003 for safe keeping, where it is currently being scanned and transcribed into a digital database by volunteers online:

The volunteers work online from scanned images of the 52,569 cards that have been uploaded to the Smithsonian site.  Each of those scans was created by Hanna BredenbeckCorp, a Project Assistant who works with Ferriter at the Smithsonian Transcription Center.  She didn't know much about Diller before handling the joke collection that made her famous.

Usually a transcription project of this scale takes three to four months to complete. The Diller files have attracted 630 new volunteers to the project, meaning the gags should be transcribed in about five to six weeks.

I asked Hanna BredenbeckCorp to tell me a joke that stands out from one of the 52,569 cards she scanned.

"When God was handing out chins, I thought He said gins. So I said 'Make mine a double.'"

-Via CBC Radio


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