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Quotations from Robert Benchley

Quotation

Essay or other source

As published in

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down -- very important traits in times like these. "Your Boy and His Dog" Chips Off The Old Benchley, 1949
A great many people have come up to me and asked me how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. My answer is, "Don't you wish you knew?" and a pretty good answer it is too, when you consider that nine times out of ten I didn't hear the original question. "How to Get Things Done" Chips Off The Old Benchley, 1949
In order to laugh at something, it is necessary (1) to know what you are laughing at, (2) to know why you are laughing, (3) to ask some people why they think you are laughing, (4) to jot down a few notes, (5) to laugh. Even then, the thing may not be cleared up for days. "Why We Laugh -- or Do We?" After 1903 -- What?, 1938
There are various forms of the disease, the victim of which is unable to say "No." Some of these forms are more serious than others, and often lead to electrocution or marriage. "I Know of It" After 1903 -- What?, 1938
There are no lengths to which humorless people will not go to analyze Humor. "What Does It Mean?" After 1903 -- What?, 1938
It does not pay to take newspaper items too much to heart. The next day you may find that you either misread the details or that the reporter was fooling. "Too Many Harmonicas" After 1903 -- What?, 1938
When I was a child I was of an affectionate disposition, but not enough to get arrested. "A Brief Study of Dendrophilism" From Bed to Worse, 1934
Just think of all the things you can do after 40! Professor Webster was 57 when he cut up Dr. Parkman and threw him into the furnace of the Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Parkman was 70 himself! "Life Begins at (fill in space)" From Bed to Worse, 1934
Avoid crowds. This applies to all times of the year. You never know who may be in a crowd, and mingling with one may result in your being reminded of an old fifty-dollar loan or a promise to drop in and hear someone sing. "How to Avoid Colds" From Bed to Worse, 1934
I think that if I had it all to do over again (and it looks now as if it wouldn't be a bad idea), I would go in more for manual labor. "A Few Figures for Unproductive Labor" From Bed to Worse, 1934
...they represent the worst element in our civilization--the Brother's Keeper. "Awake, Awake!" From Bed to Worse, 1934
The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him "Quick Quotations" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Tell us your phobias and we will tell you what you are afraid of. "Phobias" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
"What is the news this morning, Mr. MacGregor?" I asked, peering around from behind a hangover. "MacGregor for Ataman!" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
"The work can wait," I said, quoting our business motto. "MacGregor for Ataman!" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
A lot of people say: "I'm no good in the morning until I've had my coffee." I'm no good in the morning even after I've had my coffee. "Coffee Versus Gin" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
The only cure for a real hangover is death. "Coffee Versus Gin" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Does the average man get enough sleep? What is enough sleep? What is the average man? What is does? "Do We Sleep Enough?" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Infants need the most sleep, and, what is more, get it. Stunning them with a soft, padded hammer is the best way to insure their getting it at the right times. "Do We Sleep Enough?" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Anything can happen, but it usually doesnít. "The Ice-Breaker" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
It is merely a slovenly way of speaking, induced by an even more slovenly way of drinking. "Do You Make These Mistakes?" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
If there is one thing that I resent (and there is), it is to be told that I resent being told anything. It drives me crazy. "Mistaken Notions" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
One of these days I have got to go and see a doctor about my cigarette smoking. I am slowly but surely losing the knack. "Experience Meeting" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Every man owes it to himself (and to his friends) to get away entirely alone in an isolated shack every so often, if only to find out just what bad company he can be. "Sweet Solitude" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
One of the easiest forms of pretense to break down is the pretense of enthusiasm for exotic foods. Just bring on the exotic foods. "Truffle Poisoning" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
We didn't know about 'inhibitions' in my day. They came in with horn-rimmed glasses and Freud. We just said 'Yes, please,' or 'No, thanks,' and let it go at that. "All Aboard For Dementia Praecox" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
Anyone will be glad to admit that he knows nothing about beagling, or the Chinese stock market, or ballistics, but there is not a man or woman alive who does not claim to know how to cure hiccoughs. "Stop Those Hiccoughs!" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
The problem of what to wear while lolling about the house on a hot Sunday afternoon is becoming more and more acute as the fashions in lolling garments change. The American home is in danger of taking on the appearance of an Oriental bordello. "What to Loll In" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
I am more the inspirational type of speller. I work on hunches rather than mere facts, and the result is sometimes open to criticism by purists. "Rule of Thumb" My Ten Years in a Quandary and How They Grew, 1936
It is pretty generally agreed by now that Seeing is not Believing. Along with those old exploded saws (watch out for exploding saws!) that Old Friends are Best and the Longest Way Round is the Shortest Way Home (I could kill the guy who made that one up--it cost me eight dollars and a half in taxi fare once), the old dictum about seeing and believing has been shown to be just another flash in the pan. "Can We Believe Our Eyes?"

No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways, 1932

Sand is also a good place on which to write, "I love you," as it would be difficult to get into court after several years have passed. "All Sandy"

No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways, 1932

I find that, while working, a pipe is a great source of inspiration. A pipe can be placed diagonally across the keys of a typewriter so that they will not function, or it can be made to give out such a cloud of smoke that I cannot see the paper. "How I Create"

No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways, 1932

I take it for granted that I am growing older, although, except for a slight arteriosclerosis and an inability to hear, I would never know it. "Growing Old with Football"

No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways, 1932

If the boat happens to be plying between points in New England, that "vacation-land of America," where the business slogan is "The customer is always in the way," the customer is lucky if the chef in attendance furnishes grudgingly a loaf of bread and a piece of ham for him to make his own sandwiches. And a warm bottle of "tonic" is considered all that any epicure could demand as liquid refreshment. "Abandon Ship"

No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways, 1932

The visiting Englishman, or the visiting Californian, is convinced that New York City is made up of millions of gay pixies, flitting about constantly in a sophisticated manner in search of a new thrill. "I donít see how you stand it," they often say to the native New Yorker who has been sitting up past his bedtime for a week in an attempt to tire his guest out. "The Typical New Yorker"

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, or David Copperfield, 1928

There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not. "The Most Popular Book of the Month"

Of All Things, 1921

[Reviewing the New York City Telephone Directory] But it is the opinion of the present reviewer that the weakness of plot is due to the great number of characters which clutter up the pages. The Russian school is responsible for this. "The Most Popular Book of the Month"

Of All Things, 1921

And as Tiny Tim might say in speaking of Christmas afternoon as an institution, "God help us, every one." "Christmas Afternoon"

Of All Things, 1921

The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. James Thurber, quoting Benchley

The Bermudian, magazine, November, 1950

[Telegram upon arriving Venice] Streets full of water. Advise. As told by David Niven

Saturday Evening Post, July 19, 1958, page 13

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