Of American-English origin, the humorous phrase composed of:
– thrown out of (much) better
– + a noun, in the plural, denoting generic places or occupations
– followed by than
– + (usually) a noun or pronoun, in the singular, denoting a specific place or occupation
is a derogatory description of the specific place or occupation referred to by the singular noun or pronoun. This specific place or occupation is sometimes implicit, i.e., than + singular noun or pronoun is sometimes omitted.
This phrase is typically used by somebody who is getting expelled from the specific place or occupation referred to.
These are the earliest occurrences that I have found, in chronological order:
The following is from Just Ordinary Drunk, the story of a drunk named Stubbs, published in The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) of Sunday 24th October 1909:
To the theater you all went. Subsequently, you will remember, Stubbs, you were all ejected by a grumpy special policeman who objected to Bill’s raucous criticisms of the leading lady.
You steered them to a little place, Stubbs, that you knew of—where an orchestra plays a soothing refrain to the soft gurgle of creme de menthe.
The man who ran the place wanted to get rid of you all, Stubbs, and you defied him and quoted law at him and fell against him. As you passed swiftly to the street you remarked that you had been thrown out of much better places than he had ever seen.
The phrase occurs in five stories featuring the character Izzy Kaplan that W. O. McGeehan published in the New York Tribune (New York City, N.Y.) from January to June 1920:
1-: From Izzy Attends a Function: Hosts Fail to Hint That He Is Not Wanted, published on Tuesday 13th January 1920:
“I been out enjoying myself at the photografters’ dinner, which it was at Keanstein’s Chopping House. […]
Thrown Out of Better Places
“[…] Somebody said, ‘Put him out!’ Which it made me mad, and I got right up and I told them that I had been thrown out of some of the swellest places in New York, and they had no right to chuck me out.”
2-: From Izzy Benches His Dogs: Prepares to Leave for Palm Beach Shortly, published on Saturday 14th February 1920:
“My two dogs, Chulius and Chulia, is up at the Dog Show,” said Izzy Kaplan as he rolled into the sporting department. “At first those loafers wouldn’t let them into the show at all because they didn’t have no pedigrease, which is passports for dogs to get into shows. Then I asked him what kind of a free country it was where even the dogs had to have it a passport. Also, I told them that my dogs had been thrown out from better dog shows, and so was I.”
3-: From Izzy Discusses the Giants: Is Non-Committal for Personal Reasons, published on Saturday 17th April 1920:
“The think which it made my heart bleed was when they turned down Larry Limerich […].
“[…] The tears was coming right down Larry’s face when he had to sit by himself in a box seat. ‘Izzy,’ he told me. ‘I’ve been living in the pest box so long that I wouldn’t know how to talk to decent people no more and now they would throw me out like I was a dog.’
“I told him that everybody had been thrown out of better places than the pest box and nobody could be thrown out of a worser place.”
4-: From Izzy Sore at Nicky: Declares That He Was Original Master Mind, published on Tuesday 18th May 1920:
“I am going up now to see if I couldn’t fix it so that Colonel Jackie Ruppertstein and Tillingstein Huston wouldn’t be ewicted from the Polish Grounds […].
“Well, all I got to say, if they would throw out the two colonels, is that Jackie and Tillie has been thrown out of better places than the Polish Grounds, and so has Izzy Kaplan.”
5-: From Izzy Favors The Shamrock: Will Back Sir Thomas Lipton in Race, published on Tuesday 29th June 1920:
“I am rooting that Sir Thomashefsky Lipstein should win it the yacht boat race. It is on account the way I was treated by the other fellers which they threw me off their boats. I could told them I been thrown out of better boats.”
The phrase then occurs in the title and at the end of an article by A. Mugg, Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, published in the Illinois State Register (Springfield, Illinois) of Friday 2nd July 1920:
Goofy Beers Avers He’s Been Thrown Out of Better Places
San Francisco, July 2.—This Goofy Beers, the nut, is certainly having a very tough time at the democratic convention […].
“Here I am,” Goofy says to me last night, “as strong a bozo for A. Mitchell Palmer as anybody you will ever see,” a bozo being Goofy’s way of saying a booster, “but,” he says, “they hurl me out of my own Pennsylvania delegation, because I am always applauding the nomination of some guy thinking it is A. Mitch.”
“Well,” I says to Goofy Beers, “you certainly have a great time getting yourself thrown out of this convention.”
“Yes,” Goofy says, “but I am thrown out of much better places than this convention in my time, at that.”
Benjamin F. Glazer (Benjamin Floyer – 1887-1956) used the phrase in Liliom: A Legend in Seven Scenes and a Prologue (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921), the translation from Hungarian of Liliom * (1909), by the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár (1878-1952):
– Julie [In alarm.]: I don’t pity you, Mister Liliom.
– Liliom: You’re a liar, you are pitying me. I can see it in your face. You’re thinking, now that Madame Muskat has thrown him out, Liliom will have to go begging. Huh! Look at me. I’m big enough to get along without a Madame Muskat. I have been thrown out of better jobs than hers.
(* Liliom, Hungarian for lily, is slang for a tough.)
The following is from Papa, Lock Your Cellar Door, for Season for Flappers, Jelly Beans and Hip Flaks Is Coming Around, published in the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) of Tuesday 13th December 1921:
If the young beans are a little lucky they can get into a row and attract the night manager of the restaurant, and maybe they will be thrown out of the restaurant and have something to brag about the next day. And as they are leaving by request they all use that line, “I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.”