The Algonquin Wits: Heywood Broun

“On a voyage across the Pacific, Broun and his fellow passengers one day decided to provide themselves with an evening of entertainment. Heywood was asked to box three rounds with a man whose stature closely matched his own 240-pound frame. Before accepting the offer, Heywood engaged the other fellow in a chat, presumably to discover what he was up against. In the course of their talk, the man said to Heywood, ‘I’m going to ask you a question which I have wanted to ask someone ever since I got on this ship. What is this “demitasse” they have on the bill of fare?’ Heywood later sought out the chairman of the entertainment committee and announced, “I’ve changed my mind about boxing with that chap. Any man who doesn’t know what a “demitasse” is must be a tough guy.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

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