An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





Some newspapers are fit only to line the bottom of bird cages.


Spiro T. Agnew (1918-1996, American Vice President)


We are living in the machine age. For the first time in history the comedian has been compelled to supply himself with jokes and comedy material to compete with the machine. Whether he knows it or not, the comedian is on a treadmill to oblivion.


Fred A. Allen (1894-1957, American radio comic)


While awaiting sentencing, I decided to give stand-up comedy a shot. The judge had suggested I get my act together, and I took him seriously.


Tim Allen (1953-, American actor, comedian, author)


Comedy just pokes at problems, rarely confronts them squarely. Drama is like a plate of meat and potatoes, comedy is rather the dessert, a bit like meringue.


Woody Allen (1935-, American director, screenwriter, actor, comedian)


I think being funny is not anyone's first choice.


Woody Allen (1935-, American director, screenwriter, actor, comedian)


Power without responsibility -- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.


Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947, British Prime Minister)


It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed.


Walter Benjamin (1982-1940, German critic, philosopher)


The media network has its idols, but its principal idol is its own style which generates an aura of winning and leaves the rest in darkness. It recognizes neither pity nor pitilessness.


John Berger (1926-, British actor, critic)


There's no business like show business.


Irving Berlin (1888-1989, Russian composer)


When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.


Bhagavad Gita (c. BC 400-, Sanskrit poem incorporated into the Mahabharata)


Humorists can never start to take themselves seriously. It's literary suicide.


Erma Bombeck (1927-, American author, humorist)

Author's website:


Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions.


Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956, German dramatist, poet)


The press and politicians. A delicate relationship. Too close, and danger ensues. Too far apart and democracy itself cannot function without the essential exchange of information. Creative leaks, a discreet lunch, interchange in the Lobby, the art of the unattributable telephone call, late at night.


Howard Brenton (1942-, British playwright)


Media, the plural of mediocrity.


Jimmy Breslin (1930-, American actor, author)


Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing.


Robert Bresson (1907-1999, French film director)


The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can't fake it... try to fake three laughs in an hour -- ha ha ha ha ha -- they'll take you away, man. You can't.


Lenny Bruce (1925-1966, American comedian)


Today's comedian has a cross to bear that he built himself. A comedian of the older generation did an "act" and he told the audience, "This is my act." Today's comic is not doing an act. The audience assumes he's telling the truth. What is truth today may be a damn lie next week.


Lenny Bruce (1925-1966, American comedian)


I think that in the minds of many, the press is being seen less and less as a neutral observer in the impeachment enterprise and more and more as participants, or even collaborators. [On Media's Participation In Watergate]


Patrick Buchanan (1938-, American statesman)


If the sexual revolution has been a medical disaster, socially it has been a catastrophe. Why do the media not report and explore the tragic results of the sexual revolution? Because many are collaborators.


Patrick Buchanan (1938-, American statesman)


The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.


Samuel Butler (1612-1680, British poet, satirist)


A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.


Albert Camus (1913-1960, French existential writer)


Comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.


Angela Carter (1940-1992, British author)


We've uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves, and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business.


Jimmy Carter (1924-, American President (39th))


The media transforms the great silence of things into its opposite. Formerly constituting a secret, the real now talks constantly. News reports, information, statistics, and surveys are everywhere.


Michel De Certeau (1925-1986, French writer, historian)


All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.


Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977, British comic actor, filmmaker)


Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.


Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977, British comic actor, filmmaker)


Charlie Chaplin's genius was in comedy. He has no sense of humor, particularly about himself.


Lita Grey Chaplin


My own habitual feeling is that the world is so extremely odd, and everything in it so surprising. Why should there be green grass and liquid water, and why have I got hands and feet.


John Jay Chapman (1862-1933, American author)


The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control -- "indoctrination," we might say -- exercised through the mass media.


Noam Chomsky (1928-, American linguist, political activist)


The very hirelings of the press, whose trade it is to buoy up the spirits of the people. have uttered falsehoods so long, they have played off so many tricks, that their budget seems, at last, to be quite empty.


William Cobbett (1762-1835, British journalist, reformer)


It is a misfortune that necessity has induced men to accord greater license to this formidable engine, in order to obtain liberty, than can be borne with less important objects in view; for the press, like fire, is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.


James F. Cooper (1789-1851, American novelist)


I was doing stand-up at a restaurant and there was a chalkboard on the street out front. It said, "Soup of the Day: Cream of Asparagus. Ellen DeGeneres."


Ellen DeGeneres (1958-, American actress, TV personality)


If I get a hard audience they are not going to get away until they laugh. Those seven laughs a minute -- I've got to have them.


Ken Dodd


Wooing the press is an exercise roughly akin to picnicking with a tiger. You might enjoy the meal, but the tiger always eats last.


Maureen Dowd


The perception of the comic is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost, his fellow men can do little for him.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American poet, essayist)


Comedy, like sodomy, is an unnatural act.


Marty Feldman


Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.


Christopher Fry (1907-, British playwright)


If Thomas Edison invented electric light today, Dan Rather would report it on CBS News as, "Candle making industry threatened."


Newt Gingrich (1943-, American statesman)


The world is for thousands a freak show; the images flicker past and vanish; the impressions remain flat and unconnected in the soul. Thus they are easily led by the opinions of others, are content to let their impressions be shuffled and rearranged and evaluated differently.


Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist)


Comedy deflates the sense precisely so that the underlying lubricity and malice may bubble to the surface.


Paul Goodman (1911-1972, American author, poet, critic)


Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.


Graham Greene (1904-1991, British novelist)


We mustn't complain too much of being comedians -- it's an honorable profession. If only we could be good ones the world might gain at least a sense of style. We have failed -- that's all. We are bad comedians, we aren't bad men.


Graham Greene (1904-1991, British novelist)


Belief is with them mechanical, voluntary: they believe what they are paid for -- they swear to that which turns to account. Do you suppose, that after years spent in this manner, they have any feeling left answering to the difference between truth and falsehood?


William Hazlitt (1778-1830, British essayist)


Comedy naturally wears itself out -- destroys the very food on which it lives; and by constantly and successfully exposing the follies and weaknesses of mankind to ridicule, in the end leaves itself nothing worth laughing at.


William Hazlitt (1778-1830, British essayist)


A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.


Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961, American writer)


I almost wish I could be more exciting, that I could match what is happening out there to me.


Whitney Houston (1963-, American singer, actress)


It is impossible to read the daily press without being diverted from reality. You are full of enthusiasm for the eternal verities -- life is worth living, and then out of sinful curiosity you open a newspaper. You are disillusioned and wrecked.


Patrick Kavanagh (1905-1967, Irish poet, author)


I sometimes compare press officers to riflemen on the Somme -- mowing down wave upon wave of distortion, taking out rank upon rank of supposition, deduction and gossip.


Bernard Ingham


The liberty of the Press is the Palladium of all the civil, political and religious rights of an Englishman.


Junius (1769-1771, Anonymous British letter writer)


There is a terrific disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.


John F. Kennedy (1917-1963, American President (35th))


The press, that goiter of the world, swells up with the desire for conquest and bursts with the achievements which every day brings. A week has room for the boldest climax of the human drive for expansion.


Karl Kraus (1874-1936, Austrian satirist)


The job of the press is to encourage debate, not to supply the public with information.


Christopher Lasch (1932-, American historian)


The press is no substitute for institutions. It is like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision. Men cannot do the work of the world by this light alone. They cannot govern society by episodes, incidents, and eruptions. It is only when they work by a steady light of their own, that the press, when it is turned upon them, reveals a situation intelligible enough for a popular decision.


Walter Lippmann (1889-1974, American journalist)


When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute.


Walter Lippmann (1889-1974, American journalist)


Comedy may be big business but it isn't pretty.


Steve Martin (1945-, American actor, comedian, screenwriter, playwright, writer)


Publication is a self-invasion of privacy.


Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980, Canadian communications theorist)


The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium -- that is, of any extension of ourselves -- result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.


Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980, Canadian communications theorist)


The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.


Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980, Canadian communications theorist)


For the very first time the young are seeing history being made before it is censored by their elders.


Margaret Mead (1901-1978, American anthropologist)


For the very first time the young are seeing history being made before it is censored by their elders.


Margaret Mead (1901-1978, American anthropologist)


Commercial jazz, soap opera, pulp fiction, comic strips, the movies set the images, mannerisms, standards, and aims of the urban masses. In one way or another, everyone is equal before these cultural machines; like technology itself, the mass media are nearly universal in their incidence and appeal. They are a kind of common denominator, a kind of scheme for pre-scheduled, mass emotions.


Wright C. Mills (1916-1962, American sociologist)


The test of a real comedian is whether you laugh at him before he opens his mouth.


George Jean Nathan (1882-1958, American critic)


Next Big Thing -- you hear all that crap. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't psyched.


Chris O'Donnell (1970-, American actor)


If you keep your mind sufficiently open, people will throw a lot of rubbish into it.


William A. Orton


Of all the dramatic media, radio is the most visual.


John Reeves


I always loved comedy, but I never knew it was something you could learn to do. I always thought that some people are born comedians ... just like some people are born dentists.


Paul Reiser (1957-, American actor, comedian, writer)


My routines come out of total unhappiness. My audiences are my group therapy.


Joan Rivers (1933-, American comedian, talk show host, actress)


There is not one female comic who was beautiful as a little girl.


Joan Rivers (1933-, American comedian, talk show host, actress)


The men with the muck-rake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck.


Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919,  American President (26th))


In comedy, reconcilement with life comes at the point when to the tragic sense only an inalienable difference or dissension with life appears.


Constance Rourke (1885-1941, American author)


When humor can be made to alternate with melancholy, one has a success, but when the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it's just wonderful.


Francois Truffaut (1932-1984, French film critic and director)


And I did laugh sans intermission an hour by his dial. O noble fool, a worthy fool -- motley's the only wear.


William Shakespeare (1564-1616, British poet, playwright, actor)


Report me and my cause aright.


William Shakespeare (1564-1616, British poet, playwright, actor)


Though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve.


William Shakespeare (1564-1616, British poet, playwright, actor)


If I use the media, even with tricks, to publicize a black youth being shot in the back in Teaneck, New Jersey... then I should be praised for it, and it's more of a comment on them than me that it would take tricks to make them cover the loss of life.


Rev. Al Sharpton (American minister)


Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.


Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-, Russian novelist)


The press today is an army with carefully organized weapons, the journalists its officers, the readers its soldiers. But, as in every army, the soldier obeys blindly, and the war aims and operating plans change without his knowledge. The reader neither knows nor is supposed to know the purposes for which he is used and the role he is to play. There is no more appalling caricature of freedom of thought. Formerly no one was allowed to think freely; now it is permitted, but no one is capable of it any more. Now people want to think only what they are supposed to want to think, and this they consider freedom.


Oswald Spengler (1880-1936, German philosopher)


We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


Comedy has to be done en clair. You can't blunt the edge of wit or the point of satire with obscurity. Try to imagine a famous witty saying that is not immediately clear.


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


The only rules comedy can tolerate are those of taste, and the only limitations those of libel.


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe... the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western World. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity -- much less dissent.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


I can get a better grasp of what is going on in the world from one good Washington dinner party than from all the background information NBC piles on my desk.


Barbara Walters (1931-, American TV personality)


In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


On leaf of palm, on sedge-wrought roll; on plastic clay and leather scroll, man wrote his thoughts; the ages passed, and lo! the Press was found at last!


John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892, American poet, reformer, author)


The comic spirit is given to us in order that we may analyze, weigh, and clarify things in us which nettle us, or which we are outgrowing, or trying to reshape.


Thornton Wilder (1897-1975, American novelist, playwright)


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