Sunday, November 13, 2005

Wit, Wisdom, Wisecracks

Some blogs have wit. Pretty many have wisecracks. A few have wisdom.

Wit is a rare and brilliant form of humor. It's sharp and precise and pitiless. Wisecracks and one-liners are seductive, but lesser forms of wit in my opinion. It's hard to be a wit. It's easier to crack wise.

Witticisms are remembered and quoted. Wisecracks are soon forgotten. I'm pretty much a wisecracker myself. Some of my favorite humorists are both wits and wisecrackers. Like Oscar Wilde.

When Oscar said, "I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent invitation," he was wisecracking. But when he said that a murderer was "One presumed to be innocent until declared insane," he was using wit. Satire is almost always wit. I love satire. When he said, "Never buy anything simply because it is expensive," I not sure which he was using. But I'd say it was just a wisecrack. That Oscar.

I think these are wisecracks:

· Never slap a man in the face if he's chewing tobacco. (Abe Martin)
· Men aren't attracted to me by my mind, but what I don't mind. (Gypsy Rose Lee)
· I can't remember your name, but don't tell me. (A. Woollcott)
· Always look a gift horse in the mouth.
· I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time. (Steven Wright)
· If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. (G. K. Chesterton I think, but Gypsy Rose Lee does better with this one.)
· If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly…very slowly. (GRL)

But what are these?

· Her face was her chaperone. (Rupert Hughes)
· No man is lonely while eating spaghetti; it takes too much attention. (Chris Morley)
· I'm not afraid of death. I just don't want to be there when it happens. (Woody Allen)

I consider these puns:

· Occasionally he takes an alcoholic day. (Oscar Wilde)
· My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle. (Henny Youngman)
· I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. It finally dawned on me. (Dunno who)
· Beauty is only sin deep. (H.H. Munro)
· I tried to snort coke once, but I got an ice cube stuck up my nose.
· Artificial insemination: Copulation without representation. (Playboy)

I think these are wit:

· You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. (Al Capone)
· She got her good looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon. (Groucho Marx)
· I am in the prime of senility. (Benjamin Franklin)
· Familiarity breeds contempt – and children. (Mark Twain)
· Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers. (Socrates. Oh, yes. Socrates! Didn't guess that, didcha?)
· Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped. (Sam Levenson)
· I don't believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear. (Woody Allen)
· Better a witty fool than a foolish wit. (Shakespeare)
· Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before him. (Mark Twain)

No Ambrose Bierce ? Ambrose belongs to Doug. He's good with him.

Of course there are malapropisms. Samuel Goldwyn was good at those. He said things like:
· I don't pay any attention to him. I don't even ignore him.
· What do you mean the story is too caustic? Who cares about expense?
And Yogi Berra was a pro with, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." And "You can observe a lot just by watching." That Yogi.

But what about Funny? Funny is different to each of us. Some of these are funny to some of us:

· My mother buried three husbands, and two of them were just napping.
(Rita Rudner)
· I don't intend for this to take on a political tone. I'm just here for the drugs.
(Nancy Reagan, former First Lady. Oh, yes she did! Check it out.)
· USA Today has come out with a new survey: Apparently three out of four people make up 75 percent of the population. (David Letterman)
· Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy. (Albert Einstein)
· If you lived in your car, you'd be home by now. (Bumper sticker)
· There will always be death and taxes; however, death doesn't get worse every year.

This is way too long. And I didn't put in anything wise. So here's just one that I think is wise:

· If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call to make, whom would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?
- Stephen Levine

Well? Why are you?


Fred said...

Sorry, TLP, but I would need two phone calls.

The first would be to The Missus. I would tell her how much better I should have been. I've told her that, so maybe I'm ahead of the game there. I sometimes lose my temper and one millisecond later I always realize that I'm wrong.

The second call would be to Mom nd Dad. They did a great job with all four of us and I'll always be grateful.

In some small way, the phone call reminds me of the movie Peggy Sue Got Married. Remember when Peggy Sue went back in time and got to speak to her grandmother? I've always related to that; I miss my grandparents very much and would love to have one last conversation with them.

Ivy the Goober said...

All I have to say is... I wish my father'd been a plastic surgeon, AND Hey, Rita Rudner... You just gave me a great idea! :)

Sar said...

TLP, you can't possibly have all these gems committed to memory, can you? Any single one of these witticisms and wisecracks are fodder for a single great post. You are amazing.

BTW, your last question, reminds me of this Steven Wright line...

I filled out an application that said, "In Case Of Emergency Notify". I wrote "Doctor"... What's my mother going to do?

Meegan said...

I love the Nancy Reagan quote!

actonbell said...

HA!-My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.

Also: Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped. (Sam Levenson)

Thanks! Those are a couple knee-slappers!

Peter said...

Hi Lucy, I think my pick would be, "I stayed up all night to see whwere the sun went, it finally dawned on me."
But then there was... so many others!!

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Fred-I remember Peggy Sue Got Married. Great movie in MHO. You can have as many calls as you need.

Ivy - Me too. Then I would've inherited big time.

Sar - Memory? What's that? I google, google, google. Steal everything.

Meegan - I can say "no" to Nancy.

Acton Bell - thanks. I like the new icon.

Peter - I love your stuff. Mine is all old.

Minka said...

George Bush could have said this one:
"My mind is already made up, so don´t confuse me with the facts." :)

Doug said...

Those are some great quotes. Cracking wise is just right when you're too slow for wit and wisdom takes too long. The favorite form of humor to a hitch-hiker.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Monika - W has a mind? Who knew?

Doug - Actually I regard you as both witty and wise. I am a wisecracker. Used to just be a cracker, but I left the south.

lime said...

loved it! i almost snarfed reading about ice cubes up the nose and albert einstien's fashion advice.

i'd call my children i tel them as often as i tell them one last time how much i loved them.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...


I especially like the one by Capone (although I am not a gun person, I can understand the message.)

Thank you for all your kind words of hope and comfort these past days!

Jamie Dawn said...

"Her face was her chaperone" is the one that really got me. That is just TOO funny!
I'm not good at figuring out what is wit or wisecracking, but I know when to laugh.

Inanna said...

LOL!!! I love these, and I needed a laugh today.

Tom & Icy said...

A day without reading TLP is a face without a smile

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Lime - me too.

Barbara - Thanks. My best to you.

J.D. - Sometimes I laugh when I shouldn't.

inanna - glad to be of some service.

Icy- Awww....

Bela said...

I'll try and remember the one about slapping a man chewing tobacco. LOL!

mireille said...

This one's yours, isn't it? I tried to snort coke once, but I got an ice cube stuck up my nose. That has just so much of a TLP feel about it. xoxo

weirsdo said...

Thanks for the laughs. I love Wilde (wrote my dissertation on him); also Saki (H. H. Munro), P. G. Wodehouse, and other related wit.
Here's a fun one from George Bernard Shaw: "If all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion."

kenju said...

Like Jamie Dawn, I loved the line about her face being her chaperone. That's the best put-down I've ever heard!

Lucy said...

I've always liked that name - Gypsy Rose Lee.. what a cool name.

My DH comes up with some wisecracks, puns - whatever you call them - like this ...

Throw me down the stairs my hat.



What about double entendres, hurled invectives, and backhanded compliments? Alot of accidental wisdom finds its weird, wild way in these...


Doug said...

Hell, TLP, you don't even have your own post up!

Weirsdo, I'm not surprised. I've described your novella as Saki meets Capote.

Leigh said...

Those were good! Oh that Nancy!

Us surfer's having a saying:

"Surfing is not a matter of life and death... it's more important than that!"

Savtadotty said...

I thought Leigh was talking about Internet surfing, in which case I agree.

Funny stuff!

Mike said...

Same here. Wit and wise cracking are both funny, most times. Although, wit sometimes gets lost in the deciphering so wise cracking gets my vote.

Amber said...

"Occasionally he takes an alcoholic day." (Oscar Wilde)

I so love Oscar Wilde too. And these were all funny, thanks.

Well, except the last one. But I already call everyone far too much; they don't need to hear from me again right now. Really, they don't.

Maybe in a couple of hours. ;-)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I would call my insurance agent and say, "You know you been pestering me? I've decided to take out $500,000 more. 30-day fre trial still on?"

And for wit/wisdom:

"Never has so much intellect gathered for dinner at one table as when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Monique said...

Oh my, trying to keep the differences straight gives me a headache. I'll just rely on you to keep me up to speed on wit vs. wisecracks, okay? None of them apply to me anyway, so I suppose I shouldn't stress over it so. :)

AP3 said...

Hey TLP -- when are YOU gonna post again? Huh? Huh?



mireille said...

oooh, oooh! I think I remembered a Dorothy Parker one: "If all the girls at the Yale football game were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised." BWAHAHAHAHAHAH! xoxo

mireille said...

And thank you for turning me on to Carson McCullers work. xoxo

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