->''"Now one time it comes on Christmas, and in fact it is the evening before Christmas, and I am in Good Time Charley Bernstein's little speakeasy in West Forty-seventh Street, wishing Charley a Merry Christmas and having a few hot Tom and Jerrys with him."''

Damon Runyon (18801946) is an American journalist and author, best known for his short stories about the colorful gamblers, gangsters and hustlers of UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity in the early part of the twentieth century. His stories are always narrated in the first person by an anonymous narrator with a distinctive slang-laced style that avoids the use of contractions, or [[PresentTenseNarrative past and future tense]].

Many of his stories are available at [[http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks11/1100651h.html Project Gutenberg Australia]].

Notable adaptations of Runyon stories include:

* ''Theatre/GuysAndDolls''
* ''Film/LadyForADay''
* ''Film/LittleMissMarker'', an early hit for Creator/ShirleyTemple.
* ''Film/PocketfulOfMiracles''
* ''Bloodhounds of Broadway'', an ill-advised adaptation of four different stories smashed together. Most notable for Music/{{Madonna}} playing a nightclub singer in the middle of her ill-fated attempt to become a respectable actress.

!!Damon Runyon's stories provide examples of:

* AndThatLittleGirlWasMe: In "Dream Street Rose", Rose tells the FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator a lengthy story about "a friend", which is all but stated outright to be her own life story.
* BigEater: Nicely-Nicely Jones in "A Piece of Pie".
-->He is a horse player by trade, and eating is really just a hobby, but he is undoubtedly a wonderful eater even when he is not hungry.
* TheButlerDidIt: Parodied in "What, No Butler?"
* CardSharp: The Lacework Kid ("Lacework" refers to his skill with cards).
* DelusionsOfEloquence: The theme of mooks talking over their heads is a mainstay.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Runyon's characters are criminals, but there are lines they will not cross. For example, in "Gentlemen, the King!" the protagonists are hired to assassinate the king of an unnamed {{Ruritania}}, but balk when they discover he's only a kid.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Big Jule in "The Hottest Guy in the World" goes back to New York -- where the police are all after him for a long string of violent crimes -- to visit his "maw."
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: The anonymous narrator (or narrators -- when he is so anonymous, who can tell?).
* FriendToAllChildren:
** Runyon's characters are a hard-bitten bunch, but they rally around fast when a child is in need in "Little Miss Marker".
** In "Gentlemen, the King!", the characters refuse a lucrative murder contract when they find out that the target is a child.
* HeelFaceTurn: In "Johnny One-Eye," a mortally wounded gangster makes friends with a mortally wounded kitten, and decides to do some good at the end of his life.
* HypocriticalHumor: Near the beginning of "Dream Street Rose", the narrator remarks that in his opinion anyone who bets on horse races has something wrong with their head. Near the end of the story, he buys a newspaper so he can check the racing results and see if his latest bet has paid off.
* LaserGuidedKarma: In "Dancing Dan's Christmas", Dancing Dan decides on a whim to borrow a drunken MallSanta's outfit and deliver Christmas cheer to some poverty-stricken persons of his acquaintance. This whim saves his life.
* LeaveBehindAPistol: In "Dream Street Rose", the protagonist is described doing this for the man who ruined her, though at least one of the listeners in the frame story doubts that the confrontation went down quite that way.
* LoadBearingHero: The title character in "Earthquake".
* NoDoubtTheYearsHaveChangedMe: In "Dream Street Rose," the protagonist is ruined by her good-for-nothing husband as a young girl. She waits a couple of decades, when he's remarried and is on top of the world, and confronts him as her wrecked old gin-soaked self:
-->'Well, Frank,' she says, 'do you know me?'
-->'Yes,' he says, after a while, 'I know you. At first I think maybe you are a ghost, as I once hear something about your being dead. But,' he says, 'I see now the report is a canard. You are too fat to be a ghost.'
* NoHonorAmongThieves: Lou Adolia, in "Cemetery Bait," is supposed to arrange to return the stolen jewelry, collect a payment from the insurance company, then split the loot with the other conspirators. He gets as far as collecting the payment.
* PresentTenseNarrative: Not only are the "Broadway" stories all in present tense, but every line (whether of narrative or of dialogue, and whether of past or present events) is in the present tense.
--> "Yes," she says. "It is about him. He is a pig," she says. "I shoot him, and I am glad of it. He is not satisfied with what he does to me two years ago, but he tries his deviltry on my baby sister."
* PrincessForADay: Apple Annie in "Madame La Gimp".
* ProfessionalGambler: Many of these, including Sky Masterson, Big Nig the crap shooter, and Regret the horse player.
* ProfessionalKiller: Asleep in "Situation Wanted". Don Pep in "Too Much Pep". Ropes [=McGonnigle=] in "Sense of Humor".
* {{Ruritania}}: "The Big Umbrella" and "Gentlemen, the King!" both feature kings of countries like this.
* TakeMeOutAtTheBallGame: The climax of "Undertaker Song." A character at the big Harvard-Yale game is mistaken for a Harvard supporter in a red scarf, but in fact his throat's been cut.
* ThoseWackyNazis: In "The Lacework Kid," the Kid outwits a POW camp commandant who is addicted to Gin Rummy, and the scheming of the commandant's disloyal subordinates leads to all the prisoners going free.
* VerbalTic: No one uses contractions. ''Ever''.