Person A: Back in the day we had X.
Person B: You had X? All we had was Y (something inferior to X) and we were glad to have it.
Person C: You had Y? All we had was Z (something inferior to Y) and we were glad to have it.
I’ve seen it several times here on the SDMB. Is this some kind of inside joke?
I don’t know if it’s the original, but Monty Python had a sketch along these lines with 3 old geezers trying to one-up each other with the poverty and hardship of their youth, ending with a completely and utterly ridiculous bit about working 36 hours a day at the mill, paying for the privilege and being killed by one’s father every night by being hacked to pieces, but “tell that to young people these days and they don’t believe you.”
This may be an inside reference to a sketch that’s usually called “The Four Yorkshiremen”, although other variations are out there.
The Four Yorkshiremen was most famously done by Monty Python during their concert at the Hollywood Bowl, but I think it was written either by Marty Feldman or by members of the Goon Squad. I am sure I saw it with Marty Feldman on TV, long before Monty Python ever came out.
In the sketch, four men from Yorkshire are sitting around in a swanky setting, reminiscing about their youth. Their tales of privation and hardship grow increasingly absurd and outrageous, and they constantly try to outdo each other: “House? You were lucky. We had to live in a hole in the road!” “We had to work in mine 24 hours a day, pay 10pence for the privilege, and when we came home, our parents would slice us up with bread knife…”
At the end, one of the Yorkshiremen says “and you try telling that to the youth of today, and they won’t believe you!”
Occasionally one of them will say “and we were glad to have it!” This has been exaggerated over time into a standard line of “oldsters” remembering how hard things were back in the “old days” and yet how they never complained.
Bill Cosby does this sort of stuff, too.
In my day, we only had 300 bps modems. And we were thankful!
So much for answering the question before the frivolousness starts…
I think it’s from a Monty Python sketch, but I’ve never seen that particular one. Thing is, the Monty Python version ended, eventually… Once it sets hold in a thread, though, the posters never seem willing to let it go.
The joke is old, very old. I have seen old footage from the 40’s of either George Burns or another ex-vaudvillian perform a series of exchanges like this.
In the early 70’s I first saw it on the Flip Wilson show. This may or mey not pre-date Monty Python’s skit.
I’ve only ever seen the Four Yorkshiremen sketch as something which was already playing on layer-upon-layer of cliches and self-referential jokes. And it wouldn’t be the only in-joke among comics, The Aristocrats (possibly NSFW link) being perhaps the best example.
It’s a pretty obvious thing about which to joke and I am sure it goes back to pre-history. When I was around ten years old, my friend’s father used to tell us about going to the movies and getting a giant bag of popcorn all for a dollar or something. We’d make fun of him with the price getting cheaper and the bag of popcorn getting bigger. Of course we weren’t nearly as clever or funny as the famous Python version of this.