53 Quotes on What Humor is to Help You Become a Better Humorist

53 Quotes on What Humor is to Help You Become a Better Humorist

Humor is annoyingly subjective, which makes it so incredibly hard to define. What makes one person defecate themselves from laughing at one comedian’s act, might make another person seriously consider attempting intentional manslaughter upon said entertainer.

But as merchants of mirth, it’s important for us to define our unique comedic voices, to develop our own axioms of satire.

And in order to do that, we have to have some sort of deeper, philosophical sense of what motivates us to inspire chuckles, chortles, and guffaws in our audience. As we set out to write comedy films, create stand-up acts, and concoct humorous speeches, we must all face the same questions: What is humor? What is wit? What is comedy? What makes something funny?

Countless have endeavored to answer these questions for centuries, and there have been some pretty good explanations. However, many of them differ vastly from one another, often contradicting each other, which reinforces the idea that there is no one-size-fits-all description for what makes something funny.

Instead of putting forth yet another vain attempt at outlining the concepts of comedy, I thought I’d gather a plethora of existing interpretations of what humor, comedy, and wit are from actual practitioners of whimsy – straight from the hilarious horses’ mouths, as it were.

Each quote is from a different comedian, writer, philosopher, or other thinker; some are amusing, some are profound, others are both. But each should guide you in your spiritual quest to determine your own doctrine of buffoonery and make your audience defecate themselves from laughter.

  1. “Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” – Leo Rosten
  2. “Wit is educated insolence.” – Aristotle
  3. “The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” – Horace Walpole
  4. “Humor is the contemplation of the finite from the point of view of the infinite.” – Christian Morgenstern
  5. “Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.” – Steve Martin
  6. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks
  7. “Wit is the epitaph of an emotion.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  8. “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” – Erma Bombeck
  9. “Humor is everywhere, in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does.” – Bill Nye
  10. “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” – Charlie Chaplin
  11. “Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep back on the inhale.” – Will Durst
  12. “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.” – James Thurber
  13. “Comedy is a wonderful device for distance that allows us to look at what we’re talking about with some degree of distance and hopefully with a bit more perspective and honesty. With many exceptions, a movie with no jokes is far less appealing to me.” – Alexander Payne
  14. “Humor is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth.” – Victor Borge
  15. “Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” – Peter Ustinov
  16. “To me, comedy is just twisting reality. It’s commenting or observing or twisting life.” – Steven Wright
  17. “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to someone else.” – Will Rogers
  18. “Humor is just another defense against the universe.” – Mel Brooks
  19. “Wit is an explosion of the compound spirit.” – Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel
  20. “Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it.” – Langston Hughes
  21. “Comedy is acting out optimism.” – Robin Williams
  22. “Humor 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 everyday affairs.” – Christopher Morley
  23. “Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.” – William Hazlitt
  24. “Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” – Leo Rosten
  25. “Comedy is tragedy – plus time.” – Carol Burnett
  26. “Humor is always based on a modicum of truth. Have you ever heard a joke about a father-in-law?” – Dick Clark
  27. “Comedy is the blues for people who can’t sing.” – Chris Rock
  28. “In life, there’s a ying and a yang and a balance. And when you don’t have balance, you have comedy.” – George Lopez
  29. “Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma.” – Robin Williams
  30. “Stand-up comedy and comedy in general is the ultimate form of free speech, because you get to poke holes in all the pretentious bubbles politicians and pundits and popes and pretenders try to float over our heads.” – Denis Leary
  31. “Humor is reason gone mad.” – Groucho Marx
  32. “Comedy is surprises, so if you’re intending to make somebody laugh and they don’t laugh, that’s funny.” – Norm MacDonald
  33. “My comedy comes from pain. I can’t stand to see someone hurting.” – Bernie Mac
  34. “Stand-up comedy is an art form and it dies unless you expand it.” – Sam Kinison
  35. “Crankiness is at the essence of all comedy. My wife and I were discussing the different types of cranky. There’s entertaining cranky, annoying cranky, angry cranky.” – Jerry Seinfeld
  36. “Comedy is basically self-deprecation.” – Hannibal Buress
  37. “For me, if you distill comedy down, it is surprise and the unexpected. That has to be it on its most base level, in any form.” – Bo Burnham
  38. “Comedy is mentally pulling the rug out from under each person in your audience. But first, you have to get them to stand on it. You have to fool them, because if they see you preparing to tug on the rug, they’ll move.” – Gene Perret
  39. “Stand-up is a funny man doing material, not a man doing funny material. The personality, the character – not the joke – is primary.” – Woody Allen
  40. “Humor results from the contrast between a thing as it is and ought to be, and a thing smashed out of shape, as it ought not to be.” – Stephen Leacock
  41. “The difference between wit and wisecracking is that wit has truth to it, while wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.” – Dorothy Parker
  42. “Humor is the secret into the audience’s other ranges of emotions.” – Kevin Feige
  43. “Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven.” – Mark Twain
  44. “Humor is a very important thing. It is a natural predilection. It is an emotional release.” – Ray Stevenson
  45. “Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.” – Christopher Fry
  46. “Humor is the truth; wit is an exaggeration of the truth.” Stan Laurel
  47. “Comedy is the ultimate truth. Jazz is hitting the notes that that no one else would hit, and comedy is saying words that no one else would say.” – Tommy Chong
  48. “Humor is an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of man’s superiority to all that befalls him.” – Romain Gary
  49. “Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.” – Kate McKinnon
  50. “Humor is a social lubricant that helps us get over some of the bad spots.” – Steve Allen
  51. “Impropriety is the soul of wit.” – W. Somerset Maugham
  52. “Wit is the only wall between us and the dark.” – Mark Van Doren
  53. “Humor is the only way to tell a story. Especially the dark ones.” – Lisa Lutz

 

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