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Quotations about Humor


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But humor is too delicate and evanescent a thing to be extracted from a book like plums from a pudding. ~Beatrix, "What to Read," The Household, supplement to Michigan Farmer and State Journal of Agriculture, 1884 September 30th


Imagination is given to a man to console him for what he is not, as humor is given to him to console him for what he is. A man who has both is very near heaven already. ~Maud Wilder Goodwin, "Four Roads to Paradise," 1853


"Poetry," said Shelley, "lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar." This, if you substitute 'absurdity' for 'beauty,' is also a good definition of humour... Humour is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in every-day affairs. ~Christopher Morley, Inward Ho!, 1923


Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn. ~Irvin S. Cobb


Humor has a way of bringing people together. It unites people. In fact, I'm rather serious when I suggest that someone should plant a few whoopee cushions in the United Nations. ~Ron Dentinger, unverified


Every survival kit should include a sense of humor. ~Author unknown


Comedy is there to basically show us we fart, we laugh — to make us realize we still are part animal. As intellectual as we think we are, we still trip. We still have human foibles, sexuality, all the different things that still make you aware of your humanity... It's just to keep us awake... all that stuff so you don't take yourself seriously and destroy the species. ~Robin Williams, on the role of the artist in society, interview with Lawrence Grobel, 1991


The average humorist never knows when he is at his wit's end. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, George Horace Lorimer, editor, as reprinted in Poor Richard Jr's Almanack, 1906


Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place. ~Mark Twain


Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. ~Clive James, in The Observer, London, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1980


Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility. ~James Thurber


[T]he satirist shoots to kill while the humorist brings his prey back alive. Swift destroyed the human race; Mark Twain and Thurber enabled it to go on. We human beings are all absurd variations of one another in any case, and this is what comedy of all kinds puts down on paper. ~Peter De Vries, 1964


Humor is, I think, the subtlest and chanciest of literary forms. It is surely not accidental that there are a thousand novelists, essayists, poets or journalists for each humorist. It is a long, long time between James Thurbers. ~Leo Rosten


Humor is just another defense against the universe. ~Mel Brooks


After God created the world, he made man and woman. Then, to keep the whole thing from collapsing, he invented humor. ~Guillermo Mordillo, in Stuttgarter Zeitung, Germany, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1982


Humor is reason gone mad. ~Groucho Marx, as quoted by Laurence J. Peter


The writers whom we love are those whose humor does not glare or glitter, but which has an iridescent quality. It is the perpetual play of light and color which enchants us. ~Samuel McChord Crothers, "The Mission of Humor"


Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. ~Peter Ustinov


Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end. ~Sid Caesar, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1984


Warning: Humor may be hazardous to your illness. ~Hot Wire, 1985


A "smartcracker" they called me... There's a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. ~Dorothy Parker, in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1958, interviewed by Marion Capron, edited by Malcolm Cowley


In this foolish world there is nothing more numerous
Than different people's senses of humorous...
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Very Funny, Very Funny"


Of the five senses, common-sense and a sense of humor are the rarest. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1906, George Horace Lorimer, editor


When in doubt, tell a funny 'til you see what the other fellow is going to do. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)


Wit. — Wit is the epitaph of an emotion. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, "Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions" (#202, 1879), Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, translated from German by Paul V. Cohn, 1913


Many a true word is spoken in jest. ~English proverb


Humor is the good natured side of a truth. ~Mark Twain


If money makes the world go round, it's humor that keeps it from spinning out of control. ~Craig Kimberley


Humor is mankind's greatest blessing. ~Mark Twain


Let your humour always be good-humour, in the double sense of the phrase: if it comes from a bad humour, it is almost sure to be bad humour. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


I'm not a joke machine. You can't just feed crap in and get funny out. ~S.A. Sachs


Question:  What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Walter Cronkite:  I'm strongly urged by advisers not to say "moral laxity," so let's say "sense of humor."
~Proust questionnaire, in Vanity Fair, 1997


The funniest things are the forbidden. ~Mark Twain, 1879


Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that Humour excites in those who lack it. ~George Saintsbury


...the sense of the Absurd, which is despair refusing to take itself seriously. ~Arland Ussher


...for a writer humor is a rubber sword — it allows you to make a point without drawing blood. ~Mary Hirsch


The kind of humor I like is the thing which makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes. ~William Davis


To me, a comic says funny things. A humorist thinks funny things. But a humorist must not only think funny, he must listen funny... The best story tellers... are listeners and thinkers. ~Jack Paar, 1950s


I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it. ~Frank A. Clark


Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety, — all this rust of life ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth... A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs, in which one is caused disagreeably to jolt by every pebble over which it runs. A man with mirth is like a chariot with springs, in which one can ride over the roughest road, and scarcely feel anything but a pleasant rocking motion. ~Henry Ward Beecher



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