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Quotes

I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”

—Book of Ecclesiastes, 225 BC

It is easy to distinguish between the joking that reflects good breeding and that which is coarse—the one, if aired at an apposite moment of mental relaxation, is becoming in the most serious of men, whereas the other is unworthy of any free person, if the content is indecent or the expression obscene.

—Cicero, c. 44 BC

Some things are privileged from jest—namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, all men’s present business of importance, and any case that deserves pity.

—Francis Bacon, 1597

Laughter almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and nature. Laughter hath only a scornful tickling.

—Philip Sidney, 1582

Jokes are grievances.

—Marshall McLuhan, 1969

Wit enables us to act rudely with impunity.

—La Rochefoucauld, 1678

Big head, little wit.

—French proverb

A joke is at most a temporary rebellion against virtue, and its aim is not to degrade the human being but to remind him that he is already degraded.

—George Orwell, 1945

No man ever distinguished himself who could not bear to be laughed at.

—Maria Edgeworth, 1809

Comedy, like sodomy, is an unnatural act.

—Marty Feldman, 1969

A jest breaks no bones.

—Samuel Johnson, 1781

Laughter always arises from a gaiety of disposition, absolutely incompatible with contempt and indignation.

—Voltaire, 1736

A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

—George Eliot, 1876