Toilets: Then and Now, Part 13: A Harmless W.C. Joke by Jack Paar Which Caused So Much Controversy

(once considered in poor taste; the joke was not nearly as vulgar as those that are currently expressed on many U.S. TV shows)

Jack Paar's W.C. Joke on TV in 1960

On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar famously walked off his show for a month after NBC censors edited out a segment, filmed the night before, about a joke involving a W.C.

He abruptly quit [The Tonight Show] four minutes into programming after discovering that a joke of his that included the letters "W.C.", meaning water closet (a polite term for a flush toilet) had been censored. As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this."

Paar returned to the show on March 7, 1960, strolled onstage, struck a pose, and looked right into the camera. "As I was saying," he said "before I was interrupted."

Of course, the (audience erupted in applause). He continued, "When I walked off, I said there must be a better way of making a living. Well I've looked and there isn't. Be it ever so humble, there is no place like Radio City. Leaving the show was a childish and perhaps emotional thing. I have been guilty of such action in the past and will perhaps be again. I'm totally unable to hide what I feel.

It is not an asset in show business, but I shall do the best I can to amuse and entertain you and let other people speak freely, as I have in the past. Any who are maligned will find this show a place to come and tell their story. There will be a rock in every snowball and I plan to continue exactly what I started out to do. I hope you will find it interesting."

Born May 1, 1918 in Canton, Ohio, Jack Harold Paar died in Greenwich, Connecticut after a long illness on January 27, 2004. He was 85. Paar hosted The Tonight Show from 1957-1962. He took over the show from Steve Allen and then passed the comedic torch to newcomer Johnny Carson.

At the time, Paar was called the "King of Late Night TV". When Johnny Carson became host, he humbly settled for being called "The Prince of Late Night TV".

Jack retired from TV in 1965. When asked why he didn't do more television, he replied "I've said everything I want to say and met everyone I want to. Why hang around?" Paar's trademark catchphrase was "I kid you not!"

Jack Harold Parr (1918-2004), American talk show host.

The W.C., or WC, Joke that Caused all the Trouble

An English lady, while visiting Switzerland, was looking for a room for a more extended stay, and she asked the schoolmaster if he could recommend any to her. He took her to see several rooms, and when everything was settled, the lady returned to her home to make the final preparations to move.

When she arrived home, the thought suddenly occurred to her that she had not seen a "W.C." around the place. So she immediately wrote a note to the schoolmaster asking him if there were a "W.C." near the room.

The schoolmaster was a very poor student of English, so he asked the parish priest if he could help in the matter. Together they tried to discover the meaning of the letters "W.C.," and the only solution they could come up with for the letters was for a Wayside Chapel. The schoolmaster then wrote the following note to the English lady:

Dear Madam:

I take great pleasure in informing you that the W.C. is situated nine miles from the room that you will occupy, in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding about 229 people and it is only open on Sunday and Thursday.

As there are a great number of people who are expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early; although, as a rule, there is plenty of standing room. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it. While others who can afford to go by car arrive just in time.

I would especially recommend that your ladyship go on Thursday when there is a musical accompaniment. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband.

I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat ordinarily occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces. The newest attraction is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district. It rings every time a person enters.

A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all the people, since they feel it is a long felt need. My wife is rather delicate, so she can't attend regularly. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by everyone.

For the children, there is a special time and place so they will not disturb the elders.

Hoping to have been of service to you, I remain,


The Schoolmaster.

A shorter and modified version of the W.C. Joke

An English lady visited Switzerland and was having difficulty finding a room, so she asked the local schoolmaster to help her. After a satisfactory room was found, she returned to her home in England and started packing.

Suddenly, it occurred to her that she hadn't noticed a W.C., so she wrote the schoolmaster about it. The Schoolmaster not knowing the meaning of W.C., asked the parish priest and together they decided that it must mean "Wayside Chapel". He wrote her the following letter:

Dear Madame,

It is my pleasure to inform you that there is a W.C. just nine miles from your new home, in the center of a grove of pine trees. It seats 229 people, and is open on Thursdays and Sundays. This is an unfortunate situation if you are in the habit of going regularly. You will, no doubt, be glad to hear that some people bring their lunches and make a day of it.

I would especially recommend Thursdays, for then there is an Organ accompaniment. The accoustics in the W.C. are excellent; even the most delicate sound can be heard.

My son was married in the W.C. and there was such a rush for seats that ten people had to sit in the same seat. The looks on their faces were very interesting.

My wife is sickly, but dedicated. She doesn't go regularly, and hasn't gone for nearly a year.

I will be glad to reserve a seat in the W.C. for you, where you will be seen and heard by everyone.

Hoping I have been of some assistance.

Sincerely yours,

The Schoolmaster

—Compiled from the following sources:
"TV Acres Censorship & Scandals;
Jack Paar's Water Closet Joke on the Tonight Show";
Frogstrom "Jack Paar Walks Away".

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