S. J. Perelman Quotes

Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin – it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring.

The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.

I don’t know where we’re going or how we’ll get there, but when we get there we’ll be there – and that’s something, even if it’s nothing.

I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.

The main obligation is to amuse yourself.

I tried to resist his overtures, but he plied me with symphonies, quartets, chamber music, and cantatas.

There is such a thing as too much couth.

If, at the close of business each evening, I myself can understand what I’ve written, I feel the day hasn’t been totally wasted.

I loathe writing. On the other hand I’m a great believer in money.

I have no truck with lettuce, cabbage, and similar chlorophyll. Any dietitian will tell you that a running foot of apple strudel contains four times the vitamins of a bushel of beans.

English life, while very pleasant, is rather bland. I expected kindness and gentility and I found it, but there is such a thing as too much couth.

Where would the Rockefellers be today if old John D. had gone on selling short-weight kerosene … to widows and orphans instead of wisely deciding to mulct the whole country.

I cannot recall a more engaging passage in fiction, and I’ve been trying for almost eighteen seconds.

“In France,” Marcel said with wintry dignity, “accidents occur in the bedroom, not the kitchen.”

To err is human, to forgive supine.

I’ll dispose of my teeth as I see fit, and after they’ve gone, I’ll get along. I started off living on gruel, and by God, I can always go back to it again.

Do you know anything at all that nobody else knows or, for that matter, gives a damn about? If you do, then sit tight, because one of these days you’re going to Hollywood as a technical supervisor on a million dollar movie.

The worst disgrace that can befall a producer is an unkind notice from a New York reviewer. When this happens, the producer becomes a pariah in Hollywood. He is shunned by his friends, thrown into bankruptcy, and like a Japanese electing hara-kiri, he commits suttee.

Fate was dealing from the bottom of the deck.

There are nineteen words in Yiddish that convey gradations of disparagement, from a mild, fluttery helplessness to a state of downright, irreconcilable brutishness. All of them can be usefully employed to pinpoint the kind of individuals I write about.

If travel has taught me nothing more, and it certainly has, it’s this: you never know when some trifling incident, utterly without significance, may pitchfork you into adventure or, by the same token, may not.

Santa Barbara people are conservative-not like in L.A., where everybody wears rhinestones on their glasses to show that they own an airplane factory.

A basic ingredient in the manufacture of perfume, the attar-a heavy, pale-yellow oil stored in small metal drums-had been put up as collateral by Bulgaria, in lieu of gold, at the Moscow Narodny Bank, a Communist finance house for East-West trade.

I used to pride myself on being impervious to the sentimentalities of soap opera, but when that loveliest of actresses, Rachel Gurney, of Upstairs, Downstairs, perished on the Titanic, I wept so convulsively and developed such anorexia that I had to be force-fed.

You’ll have to leave my meals on a tray outside the door because I’ll be working pretty late on the secret of making myself invisible, which may take me almost until eleven o’clock.