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Humor

  • Humor is a show of both strength and of vulnerability: you are willing to make the first move but you are trusting in the response of your listener.

  • A sense of humor in marriage acts as a lightning rod on a building: grounds the sparks from the air.

  • Humor was for her a kind of social salt; and salt not only adds savor, it preserves.

  • Humorists are not humorous twenty-four hours a day. In fact, when you get to know them well, they are often not humorous at all. They tend to be hypersensitive, taut, neurotic creatures driven by God knows what obscure compulsion to earn their living the hard way.

  • He'd never laugh at my jokes. ... I was a woman, meaning my relationship with humor should have been as an object, not a perpetrator.

  • A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

  • There are those who, in their pride and their innocence, dedicate their careers to writing humorous pieces. Poor dears, the world is stacked against them from the start, for everybody in it has the right to look at their work and say, 'I don't think that's funny.'

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • introduction to S.J. Perelman, The Most of S.J. Perelman ()
  • I had thought, on starting this composition, that I should define what humor means to me. However, every time I tried to, I had to go and lie down with a cold wet cloth on my head.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • introduction to S.J. Perelman, The Most of S.J. Perelman ()
  • Humor to me, Heaven help me, takes in many things. There must be courage; there must be no awe. There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism. There must be a disciplined eye and a wild mind. There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.

    • Dorothy Parker,
    • introduction to S.J. Perelman, The Most of S.J. Perelman ()
  • Becoming a comedienne was my way of adjusting to puberty.

    • Phyllis Diller,
    • in Denise Collier and Kathleen Beckett, Spare Ribs: Women in the Humor Biz ()
  • Of all the band of personal traitors the sense of humor is the most dangerous.

  • It occurred to him that perhaps she was trying to be funny; he knew that there is nothing more cryptic than the humor of the unhumorous.

  • Humor helps us get through life with a modicum of grace. It offers one of the few benign ways of coping with the absurdity of it all.

  • Ghetto humor is the social twin of fantasy; together they sustain the powerless, who accomplish miracles through illusion.

  • People will admit to arson and mayhem sooner than no sense of humor.

  • Family jokes, of course, though rightly cursed by strangers, are the bond that keeps most families alive.

  • A sense of humor is so handy, isn't it? It lets you see both sides of a question so that you never need do anything.

  • I'm beginning to feel that the real endangered species on planet earth are not the whales and the elephants but those of us who can laugh at the world and ourselves. ... I fear the dry turn of the American mind, this focus on the literal, as much as I fear our capacity for self-destruction. We've become hagridden by facts, obsessed with product instead of process. Where's the energetic wit, the looney outlook, the frivolity, the lightness of comforting laughter? It has become fashionable to know and unfashionable to feel, and you can't really laugh if you can't feel.

  • Seriousness is the refuge of the shallow. There are events and personal experiences that call forth seriousness but they are fewer than most of us think.

  • Humor comes from self-confidence. There's an aggressive element to wit.

  • A sense of humor isn't everything. It's only 90 percent of everything.

  • ... humor is the only free emotion. I mean, you can compel fear, as we know. You can compel love, actually ... But you can't compel laughter. It happens when two things come together and make a third unexpectedly.

  • ... musicians rarely have a sense of humour, at least, about themselves.

  • ... humor distorts nothing, and only false gods are laughed off their earthly pedestals.

  • Wit is artificial; humor is natural. Wit is accidental; humor is inevitable. Wit is born of conscious effort; humor, of the allotted ironies of fate. Wit can be expressed only in language; humor can be developed sufficiently in situation.

  • Humor, in one form or another, is characteristic of every nation; and reflecting the salient points of social and national life, it illuminates those crowded corners which history leaves obscure.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "Humor: English and American," In the Dozy Hours ()
  • The thinkers of the world should by rights be guardians of the world's mirth ...

  • The essence of humor is that it should be unexpected, that it should embody an element of surprise, that it should startle us out of that reasonable gravity which, after all, must be our habitual frame of mind.

  • Humor hardens the heart, at least to the point of sanity ...

  • Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.

  • It is a curious fact, but a fact it is, that your witty people are the most hard-hearted in the world. The truth is, fancy destroys feeling. The quick eye to the ridiculous turns every thing to the absurd side; and the neat sentence, the lively allusion, and the odd simile, invest what they touch with something of their own buoyant nature. Humor is of the heart, and has its tears; but wit is of the head, and has only smiles — and the majority of those are bitter.

  • Men love a joke — on the other fellow. But your really humorous woman loves a joke on herself.

  • It's hard to be funny when you have to be clean.

    • Mae West,
    • in Joseph Weintraub, ed., The Wit and Wisdom of Mae West ()
  • Among animals, one has a sense of humor. / Humor saves a few steps, it saves years.

  • 'Ha-ha,' said Sir Mark. 'Hum. Very good, yes, ha-ha!' Thumbs under his lapels he looked, however, rather anxiously round the room. Conversation with someone at whose joke you have heartily laughed without seeing the point is apt to become precarious.

  • It is a difficult thing to like anybody's else ideas of being funny.

  • If my life weren't funny, it would just be true, and that would be unacceptable.

  • One parody is worth a thousand polemics ...

  • ... American humor ... is not subtle. It is something that makes you laugh the moment you hear it, you have not to think a scrap.

  • My father was a proctologist, my mother an abstract artist. That's how I see the world.

  • It is a very serious thing to be a funny woman.

  • Humor tells you where the trouble is.

  • Where there's life, there's humor.

  • Exaggeration is the cheapest form of humor.

  • Humor is an excellent method of keeping a tight rein on unproductive displays of emotion.

  • Laughter is man's most distinctive emotional expression. Man shares the capacity for love and hate, anger and fear, loyalty and grief, with other living creatures. But humor, which has an intellectual as well as an emotional element, belongs to man.

  • A flash of wit, like a flash of lightning, can only be remembered, it cannot be reproduced.

  • Society forgives a good deal to the people who are good enough to afford them a laugh now and then.

  • ... that's the first time I ever heard anyone, much less a chick, admit to not having a sense of humor. Most people would rather confess to murdering dear ole mum.

  • Humor is a means of both establishing and testing the boundaries between groups of people ...

  • Personally I don't spend much time thinking about being funny. For me it's always been just a way to get by, a way to be likable yet to remain removed. When I speak up, it's not because I have any particular answers; rather, I have a desire to puncture the pretentiousness of those who seem so certain they do.

  • ... being funny is a way of being liked and a way of dealing with sadness.

  • Someone had written: 'Grils' Rights Now.' Someone else had crossed out 'Grils' and inserted 'Girls.' Below that, in another hand, was a plaintive cry: 'What about us Grils?'

  • ... everybody fancies they have that rare thing, a sense of humour.

  • Total absence of humor renders life impossible.

  • [When asked why women had no sense of humor:] Do you know why God withheld the sense of humour from women? That we may love you, instead of laughing at you.

  • A woman with a good sense of humor is not a woman who makes jokes. A woman with a good sense of humor is a woman who laughs at jokes.

  • ... it's dreadful when two people's senses of humor are antagonistic. I don't believe there's any bridging that gulf!

  • On the preservation of the comic spirit depends in some measure the ultimate triumph of civilization.

  • Nothing either sacred or secular is exempt from humor. Humor is the most divine gift we have. Most people undervalue it. A life without laughter is like a long journey without a resting place. I'm in awe of humor. Humor is our guardian. ... Wit is the quick, funny answer. Comedy is the funny hat, a clown nose, an outfit. Humor is about the human condition. ... Humor is the other side of grief.

  • How fatally the entire want of humor cripples the mind.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • Humor is an antidote to isolation.

  • I have no patience with anyone born after World War II. You have to explain everything to these people.

  • I do statistics. Not very exciting I suppose, but, as they say, there's safety in numbers.

    • Joyce Harrington,
    • "Mirror Image," in Marilyn Wallace, ed., Sisters in Crime 5 ()
  • We are not amused!

    • Queen Victoria,
    • alleged to have said this in 1889 upon seeing an imitation of herself by a groom-in-waiting, and quoted in Notebooks of a Spinster Lady ()
  • Many true words are spoken in jest.

  • An emotional man may possess no humor, but a humorous man usually has deep pockets of emotion, sometimes tucked away or forgotten.

  • If the gods have no sense of humor they must weep a great deal.

  • There's nothing like a gleam of humor to reassure you that a fellow human being is ticking inside a strange face.

  • ... maintaining a sense of humor is crucial ... After all, angels fly because they take themselves lightly.

  • Humor is one of the few things in life which we should take seriously. You may lose everything, but your sense of humor, never!

  • The masters of the comic spirit are often our prophets.

  • ... jokes are ideally pleasurable. They are an act of assassination without a corpse, a moment of total annihilation that paradoxically makes anything possible.

  • Humor is subversive.

  • It [humor] inhabits the marginal.

  • Funniness is the wild card in the pack.

  • The joy of joys is the person of light but unmalicious humor.

  • Humor was one of the most seductive things about a man.

  • Humor is the shock absorber of life; it helps us take the blows.

  • Wit penetrates; humor envelops. Wit is a function of verbal intelligence; humor is imagination operating on good nature.

  • Gravity: more than a good idea — it's the law!

  • Old florists never die. They just make other arrangements.

  • ...humor bears the closest relation to emotion, either bubbling up as from a deep and happy wellspring, or in an opposite fashion rising like a re-birth of feeling from dead levels after turmoil.

  • There is scarcely an aspect of the American character to which humor is not related, few which in some sense it has not governed. ... It is a lawless element, full of surprises.

  • Whole phases of comedy have become empty; the comic rejoinder has become every man's tool.

  • ... she was blessed with a sense of humor — a precious gift which is the salt of the mind, saving from insipidity, and drawing out the true flavor of all mental comestibles.

  • ... humor is a rubber sword — it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.

  • Hilarity is hereditary.

  • Humor is such a strong weapon, such a strong answer.

  • Humor is a hole that lets the sawdust out of a stuffed shirt.

  • A verbal agreement is not worth the paper it's written on.

    • Fanny Brice,
    • remark usually incorrectly credited to Samuel Goldwyn, in Mary Unterbrink, Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 ()