A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
“Before you judge someone, try walking a mile in their shoes. That way when you judge them you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.” – Billy Connolly
Have you ever noticed that famous people are quoted all the time even if no one is ever sure he or she said it in the first place? Sometimes they didn’t say it at all. As Yogi Berra was once quoted, ‘I didn’t really say everything I said’. On the other hand maybe he didn’t even say that.
Every now and then I pick up my copy of Treasury of Wit and Wisdom, a huge collection of 4,000 of the funniest, cleverest, most insightful things ever said that Reader’s Digest published way back in 2006; that’s an ancient manuscript by today’s standards. Some people are in there dozens of times and quite often we have never heard of them nor will ever hear of them again. Woody Allen is in there with 21 quotes and Dave Barry more than that, as well he should be since Dave is a newspaper humour columnist and those people are brilliant.
Stephen Leacock is in there twice but strangely the quotes aren’t the ones he is famous for. They gave his best line to some American who doesn’t even have house out on Brewery Bay named after him. What kind of justice is that? And who is this Tom Jefferson anyway?
I guess there isn’t much we can do about it, but so many political leaders and TV comedians and late night hosts are quoted all the time but their words are the words of a panel of writers. Even JFK’s famous ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’ might not have been his. For all we know he might have stolen it from the waiter who served him his wiener schnitzel that afternoon.
And was what was supposedly said on some auspicious occasion really what was said? At the risk of eternal damnation, was there a team of stenographers in the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount? I don’t know I’m just asking.
I didn’t intend to fill this column with humorous quotes but even a lazy person such as me gives into temptation when a deadline is looming.
One of the truly great entertainers, the late Danish humourist and classical pianist, Victor Borge, once said, ‘The difference between a violin and a viola is a viola burns longer.’ That’s funny, unless you just spent a couple of hundred grand on a Stradivarius. You must remember him and his phonetic punctuation on Ed Sullivan – unless you are but a child and don’t even remember Sullivan.
Thomas Beecham, famed conductor of the London and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, said ‘No operatic star has yet died soon enough for me.’ He also said, ‘There are two golden rules for an orchestra; start together and finish together. The public doesn’t give a damn what goes on in between.’
Dave Barry, the award- winning humour writer, and nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald, is in the Digest book no less than 23 times and I could go on for hours about him. I have three of his books and pick them up whenever I think the U.S. is going to hell and remember he is their one saving grace.
Dave said, ‘If you surveyed a hundred typical middle-aged Americans, I bet you’d find that only two of them could tell you their blood type, but every last one of them would know the theme song from the Beverley Hillbillies.
‘Electricity is made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking.’
‘Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world.’
‘Another source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television’s message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom and world peace pales by comparison with the need for a toothpaste that offers whiter teeth and fresher breath.’
I could not leave without a few lines from my favourite humourist, Allan Stewart Konigsberg, better known as Woody Allen. Woody is famous for his weird movies, comedy albums and also for running off with his adopted daughter.
‘If my films make one more person miserable, I feel I have done my job.’
‘The lion shall lay down with the calf, but the calf won’t get much sleep’
‘Not only is there no God, try getting a plumber on weekends.’
Woody’s one regret in life is that he is not someone else.
(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)