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Paragons of wit

Who to you exemplifies wit? Let's make a list!


"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
replies 52Dec 7, 2017 12:19 PM +00:00

For Washingtonians it will always be Alice Roosevelt Longworth!...Then Maybe Millicent Fenwick, though she was more of a politician and public figure as opposed to a socialite.. How Republicans have gone down hill since those days...Sarah Palin and present company?

replies 1Dec 7, 2017 12:34 PM +00:00

Quentin Crisp

If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.
Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level.
Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are.
It's no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, 'Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.' By then, pigs will be your style.
There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.
replies 2Dec 7, 2017 1:10 PM +00:00

St. Oscar

1. ON GOD "I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."
replies 3Dec 7, 2017 1:13 PM +00:00

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; We all assume that Oscar said it.

replies 4Dec 7, 2017 1:16 PM +00:00

Ambrose Bierce

Meekness: Uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worth while.
Cynic, n: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
Dog - a kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship.
We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.
replies 5Dec 7, 2017 1:17 PM +00:00

"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance".
--h l mencken
replies 6Dec 7, 2017 1:20 PM +00:00

Dorothy Parker, on being asked to use the word "horticulture" is a sentence:

"You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think."

replies 7Dec 7, 2017 1:23 PM +00:00

Mark Twain

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.
Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to.
replies 8Dec 7, 2017 1:29 PM +00:00

Dorothy Parker on an early Broadway performance of Katherine Hepburn:

"She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B."

(Contrary to popular legend, she didn't write it in a review but she did say it.)

replies 9Dec 7, 2017 1:31 PM +00:00

Oscar Wilde heard the artist and dandy James McNeill Whistler drop some particularly witty bon mot at a social gathering.

Wilde: I wish I'd said that.

Whistler: You will, Oscar, you will.

replies 10Dec 7, 2017 1:40 PM +00:00

Jane Bowles. Wife of Paul Bowles (Sheltering Sky etc). She was a full on dyke. And funny as shit. Drunk as hell in some crap city she had to travel to w her lover, she approached nearest policeman and asked "Can you please direct us to the nearest drinking center?" I use this line often. She had some great quotes.
replies 11Dec 7, 2017 1:42 PM +00:00

“Pearls before swine...”

replies 12Dec 7, 2017 1:47 PM +00:00

Sir W.S. Gilbert became irritated listening to Wilde monopolizing the conversation at a dinner party. He finally interjected: "I wish I could talk like you. I'd keep my mouth shut and claim it as a virtue." Wilde replied "Ah, but that would be selfish. I could deny myself the pleasure of speaking but I could never deny the others the pleasure of listening."

replies 13Dec 7, 2017 1:48 PM +00:00

More Dorothy Parker:

Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common.
replies 14Dec 7, 2017 1:48 PM +00:00

Paul Fussell. Great commentaries on American views of social status. When asked the very American, rude question "what do you do?", he replied, "I am cataloguing my library".

replies 15Dec 7, 2017 1:51 PM +00:00

One should forgive ones enemies but not before they are hanged.

--Heinrich Heine
replies 16Dec 7, 2017 1:56 PM +00:00

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it. (W. C. Fields)
replies 17Dec 7, 2017 1:56 PM +00:00

The once excellent but now overused Dorothy Parker quote "what fresh hell is this?"

replies 18Dec 7, 2017 1:58 PM +00:00

every day of the trump plague

replies 19Dec 7, 2017 1:59 PM +00:00

'I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.' - Clarence Darrow
replies 20Dec 7, 2017 2:01 PM +00:00

“Her only flair is in her nostrils.” —Pauline Kael, film critic

replies 21Dec 7, 2017 2:09 PM +00:00

Oscar Levant.

Hilaire Belloc.

George S. Kaufman

replies 22Dec 7, 2017 2:15 PM +00:00

St. Noel

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
replies 23Dec 7, 2017 2:16 PM +00:00

Bea Lillie was once traveling with Noel Coward, One evening she knocked on his door, lowered her voice and said "House Detective! Have you got a gentleman in your room?" Coward replied "Wait a minute, I'll ask him."

replies 24Dec 7, 2017 2:26 PM +00:00

r18 every time the phone rings i think: "what fresh hell is this?"

replies 25Dec 7, 2017 2:26 PM +00:00

turn on the news in the morning

replies 26Dec 7, 2017 2:30 PM +00:00

Wilson Mizner

"Copy from one, it’s plagiarism; copy from two, it’s research. "

replies 27Dec 7, 2017 2:32 PM +00:00

Few remember that Bea Lillie had a courtesy title because her husband was Sir Robert Peale, whose grandfather had been titled for his service in creating the London Metropolitan Police. (It's why London police officers are called Bobbies. But I digress.)

At any rate, Lillie was once on tour with The Ziegfeld Follies. Arriving in Chicago a mess, she went without an appointment to best beauty salon and asked whether she could be worked in. Why of course she could. Later, Mrs. Armour, the doyenne of Chicago society due to being married to the richest man in Chicago, the meatpacking heir, arrived and was gently asked if she could wait just a few minutes as they finished with Miss Beatrice Lillie, the star of The Ziegfeld Follies. She sighed and said yes but then added loudly enough for the entire salon to hear "I wouldn't have come today if I had known they were doing SHOWGIRLS."

Shortly thereafter, Lillie left but as she swept through she announced loudly "You may tell the butcher's wife to go in now. Lady Peale has finished."

replies 28Dec 7, 2017 2:48 PM +00:00

Alice Longworth was too much of a cunt to be a wit. She was a clever salon character and a "you can't touch me" pisspot pretending to have the common touch. Her alleged down-to-earth manner was precisely the model adopted by that other famous American GOP political woman of privilege, Barbara Bush. Longworth's inauthentic "salt of the earth" pretension had the salt served from a silver salt cellar. Plus, meanness is never at the heart of true wit. Disappointment at human failings may spur wit, but Longworth wasn't disappointed in humanity. She simply despised humanity because she was Theodore Roosevelt's daughter and the widow of a Speaker of the House.


replies 29Dec 7, 2017 2:58 PM +00:00

Vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood helped produce many wonderful wits. As we all know. One of the most profound, under her blousy act, was Mae West. Her best humor and finest witticisms always came from utter acceptance of the physicality of life and the value of pleasure. Her hedonism was philosophical in its consistency and conviction.

>He who hesitates is last.

>I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.

>I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.

>There are no good girls gone wrong, just bad girls found out.

>Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

>When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before.

replies 30Dec 7, 2017 3:05 PM +00:00

Longworth is often credited with being the first to say "If you don't have anything nice to say about somebody, come sit next to me." (There are many minor variants.) But many sources dispute that it was her.

replies 31Dec 7, 2017 3:16 PM +00:00

I had a co-worker (let's call her Judy) who had lots of native intelligence, but little schooling. One day she had a discussion with a customer on the phone that got quite out of hand. Judy finally hung up on the woman. The owner of the company came out of her office to see what was going on. Judy said "That lady called me a bitch, and she didn't even know me! " I said "isn't it just awful how perceptive some people can be?" The owner had to run to her office to keep from laughing in front of Judy.

replies 32Dec 7, 2017 3:18 PM +00:00

Tallulah Bankhead:

"Mother warned me about men and whiskey but she never said a word about women and cocaine."

"I was raped in the driveway when I was eleven. … It was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel."

"Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have the time."

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."

"Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know — I've been using it for years."

"I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

[opening night telegram to Helen Hayes] "Lay 'em in the isles. If they won't do it there, take 'em home with you."

[last documented words] "Codeine.... bourbon...."

replies 33Dec 7, 2017 5:54 PM +00:00

better a bitch than a cunt

replies 34Dec 7, 2017 6:02 PM +00:00


replies 35Dec 7, 2017 6:05 PM +00:00

Beware the fury of a patient man.

--John Drryden
replies 36Dec 7, 2017 6:15 PM +00:00

At ev'ry word a reputation dies.

--Alexander Pope, writing of Datalounge
replies 37Dec 7, 2017 6:18 PM +00:00

I read that the only wit that Oscar Wilde feared was that of Whistler, and the only wit that Whistler feared was that of Degas.

My favorite Whistler quip was when he was awarded a 2nd Class medal at the Paris Salon, he received 2nd Class because he was not French. He wrote to the awards committee the he accepted their award extended to them his 2nd Class gratitude.

A friend of mine, Thomas Stearns, was awarded a gold medal at the Venice Biennale for his glass designs for Venini, but it was rescinded because he wasn't Italian. Tom later developed Parkinson's and died a few years ago.
replies 38Dec 7, 2017 6:19 PM +00:00

R38, thanks, and did you see R10?

replies 39Dec 7, 2017 6:24 PM +00:00

More Dorothy Parker, from her "Constant Reader" review of the sappy "House at Pooh Corner" in 1928:

Tontant Weader fwowed up.
replies 40Dec 7, 2017 6:28 PM +00:00

love all of R8 but my favorite Mark Twain:

Faith is believing what you know ain't so.

replies 41Dec 7, 2017 6:29 PM +00:00

Was it Twain who said America has the best Congress money can buy? I've seen it attributed to him but it lacks his usual subtlety and backhanded swat.

replies 42Dec 7, 2017 6:33 PM +00:00

I think he said "Nobody's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session" R42, which seems a little more his tyle.

replies 43Dec 7, 2017 6:35 PM +00:00

Yes, R39, thanks. Another of my favorites is by the forgotten 19th Century humorist Bill Nye.

"Joseph H. Choate tells of a conversation he once had with the late “Bill” Nye, in reference to a concert the humorist had attended during his first visit to London. “I had asked Mr. Nye,” said Mr. Choate, “what was his opinion of Wagner’s music.” With the most serious expression in the world, Nye replied:

“I must confess that his music is beyond my comprehension; but I always feel sure, when I hear it, that it is really much better than it sounds.”

replies 44Dec 7, 2017 8:03 PM +00:00

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."

"The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has."

"If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?"

--Will Rogers
replies 45Dec 7, 2017 8:33 PM +00:00

Some sources attribute "Wagner's music is better than it sounds" to Twain but even more say it is Twain requoting Nye. There are all sorts of sources quoting the comment but attributing it to all sorts of sources.

There used to be an easily found a quote saying Wagner has glorious 15 minutes but hours of not, or some such sentiment. I have googled but can't find it, much less a source. Does anyone know what I am thinking of?,

replies 46Dec 7, 2017 8:37 PM +00:00

Brendan Behan, Irish playwright:

The first duty of a writer is to let his country down.

I’m a drinker with writing problems.

Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.

Since I was a child I’ve had a pathological horror of country people.

The key to reading Ulysses is to treat it like a comedian – as a sort of gag book.

If you fight for the liberty and unity of a small country – you’re an anarchist: but if you go bombing for a great power, you’re a patriot. It all depends on the size of the country in question.

replies 47Dec 8, 2017 6:15 AM +00:00

"Why don't you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?" - Robert Benchley

“I like to have a martini, Two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host.” - Dorothy Parker

"I had to give up martinis - I enjoyed them too much". - Brett Somers
--I love martini quotes
replies 48Dec 8, 2017 6:50 AM +00:00

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant."
replies 49Dec 8, 2017 7:11 AM +00:00

Dorothy Parker reviewing Ayn Rand (I believe it was Atlas Shrugged):

'This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force."

replies 50Dec 8, 2017 7:24 AM +00:00

Somerset Maugham

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it.

The great American novel has not only already been written, it has already been rejected.

The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.

replies 51Dec 8, 2017 7:30 AM +00:00
There used to be an easily found a quote saying Wagner has glorious 15 minutes but hours of not, or some such sentiment. I have googled but can't find it, much less a source. Does anyone know what I am thinking of?

This page from Quote Investigator discusses it, but there doesn't seem to be a clear answer as to the exact quote or who said it first. In the version I heard, a woman attending a Wagner opera met Brahms and said, "Aren't there some glorious moments in Wagner's music?" To which Brahms replied, "Yes, but there are some terrible half-hours."
replies 52Dec 8, 2017 7:39 AM +00:00