Last modified on 8 July 2014, at 23:22

Will Rogers

I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like.

William Penn Adair Rogers (4 November 187915 August 1935) was an American humorist and entertainer; known primarily as Will Rogers.

QuotesEdit

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.
  • See they conducted experiments on convicts ... I don't know on what grounds they reason a man in jail is a bigger liar than one out of jail ... The chances are telling the truth is what got him there ... It would be a big aid to humanity, but it will never be, for already the politicians are up in arms against it ... It would wreck the very foundation on which our political government is run ... If you ever injected truth into politics you'd have no politics … Even the ministers are denouncing it now … Humanity is not yet ready for either real truth or real harmony.
    • Weekly Article # 31 (15 July 1923), after meeting Robert E. House, who had proposed the use of scopolamine as a truth serum, in The Use of Scopolamine in Criminology (1922).
  • Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.
    • The New York Times (30 September 1923) This became a remark Rogers often used in his public appearances.
  • The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”
    • Within an article by Will Rogers in the St. Petersburg Times - Nov 26, 1932
  • You know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
  • Heroing is one of the shortest-lived professions there is.
    • The New York Times (15 February 1925)
  • I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I dident like. When you meet people, no matter what opinion you might have formed about them beforehand, why, after you meet them and see their angle and their personality, why, you can see a lot of good in all of them.
    • On Leon Trotsky Saturday Evening Post (6 November 1926) - note that Rogers specifically spelled the word "dident"
  • We can make this thing into a Party, instead of a Memory.
    • Letter to Al Smith regarding the Democratic party (19 January 1929)
  • You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
    • The New York Times (23 December 1929)
  • Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.
    • The New York Times (29 April 1930)
I not only "don't choose to run" but I don't even want to leave a loophole in case I am drafted, so I won't "choose". I will say "won't run" no matter how bad the country will need a comedian by that time.
  • A comedian can only last till he either takes himself serious or his audience takes him serious.
    • Syndicated newspaper article rejecting the idea that he run for President of the United States (28 June 1931)
  • I not only "don't choose to run" but I don't even want to leave a loophole in case I am drafted, so I won't "choose". I will say "won't run" no matter how bad the country will need a comedian by that time.
    • Syndicated newspaper article (28 June 1931)
  • Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.
    • Syndicated newspaper article (28 June 1931)
  • This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.
    • Daily Telegram #1948 (1 November 1932)
  • And kid Congress and the Senate, don't scold 'em. They are just children thats never grown up. They don't like to be corrected in company. Don't send messages to 'em, send candy.
  • I have always said that a conference was held for one reason only, to give everybody a chance to get sore at everybody else. Sometimes it takes two or three conferences to scare up a war, but generally one will do it.
    • Syndicated column, (5 July 1933)
  • You've got to be optimist to be a Democrat, and you've got to be a humorist to stay one.
    • Good Gulf radio show (24 June 1934)
  • We are the first nation to starve to death in a storehouse that's overfilled with everything we want.
    • As quoted in Research, the Pathfinder of Science and Industry (1935) by Thomas Alvin Boyd, p. 260
  • The United States never lost a war or won a conference.
    • Remark after the Versailles Peace Conference, as quoted in Wit and Wisdom (1936) edited by Jack Lait
  • We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile.
    • As quoted in How We Elect Our Presidents (1952), edited by Donald Day, p. 111
    • Variants: We'll hold the distinction of being the only Nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.
      We hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that went to the poor-house in an automobile.
      We hold the distinction of being the only nation that is goin' to the poorhouse in an automobile.
  • Our constitution protects aliens, drunks, and U. S. Senators. There ought to be one day (just one) when there is open season on senators.
    • As quoted in The American Treasury, 1455-1955 (1955) by by Clifton Fadiman, p. 334
  • When you get into trouble 5,000 miles from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it.
    • As quoted in Sanity Is Where You Find It : An affectionate history of the United States in the 20's and 30's (1955) edited by Donald Day.
  • Sure must be a great consolation to the poor people who lost their stock in the late crash to know that it has fallen in the hands of Mr. Rockefeller, who will take care of it and see it has a good home and never be allowed to wander around unprotected again. There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.
    • As quoted in Diary of America : The Intimate Story of Our Nation, Told by 100 Diarists (1957) edited by Josef Berger and Dorothy Berger p. 582
  • The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.
    • As quoted in The New Speaker's Treasury of Wit and Wisdom (1958) by Herbert Victor Prochnow, p. 190
  • The movies are the only business where you can go out front and applaud yourself.
    • As quoted in The Image : A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1963) by Daniel Joseph Boorstein
  • We all can't be heroes, for someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
    • As quoted in The Complete Speaker's Index to Selected Stories for Every Occasion (1967) by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 16
    • Variant: We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
      • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 240
  • Personally, I have always felt the best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can't ask his patients what is the matter — he's got to just know.
    • As quoted in Ether and me; or "Just relax." (1973)
  • This would be a great world to dance in if we didn't have to pay the fiddler.
    • As quoted in Will Rogers (1974) by E. Paul Alworth, p. 50
  • An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.
    • As quoted in You Must Remember This (1975) by Walter Wagner, p. 175
We are here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead.
  • This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.
    • As quoted in Will Roger's Daily Telegrams : The Hoover Years, 1929-1931 (1978)
  • The more that learn to read the less learn how to make a living. That's one thing about a little education. It spoils you for actual work. The more you know the more you think somebody owes you a living.
    • As quoted in Will Rogers' Daily Telegrams : The Roosevelt Years, 1933-1935 (1978), p. 72
  • We don't know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it.
    • As quoted in Will Rogers' Daily Telegrams : The Roosevelt Years, 1933-1935 (1978), p. 323
There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.
  • This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 221
  • An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 258
  • We are here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead.
    • Inscribed on the Will Rogers Memorial Building in Claremore, Oklahoma.
    • Variants: We are all here for a spell; get all the good laughs you can.
      • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 285
    • We are all here for a short spell; so get all the good laughs you can.
      • As quoted in Civilization's Quotations : Life's Ideal (2002) by Richard Alan Krieger, p. 69
  • There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you. Wikiquote-logo.svg QOTD 2007·11·04 Sound file
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 524
  • Buy land. They ain't making any more of the stuff.
    • As quoted in Land in America : Its Value, Use, and Control (1981) by Peter M. Wolf, p. 6
    • Unsourced variant: Buy land, they aren't making any more of it.
  • Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what's going to happen to us with both a Senate and a House?
    • As quoted in Dreams Come Due : Government and Economics as If Freedom Mattered (1986) by John Galt, p. 235
  • What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.
    • As quoted in Creative Leadership : Mining the Gold in Your Workforce (1998) by A. S. Migs Damiani, p. 168
  • Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.
    • As quoted in The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations (1998) by Connie Robertson
  • Take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week.
    • As quoted in Wit (2003) by Des MacHale, p. 299
  • Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need.
    • As quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners: Over 10,000 Gems of Wit and Wisdom, One-liners and Wisecracks (2004) by Geoff Tibballs, p. 16
  • The rest of the people know the condition of the country, for they live in it, but Congress has no idea what is going on in America, so the President has to tell 'em.
    • As quoted in Defending Liars : In Defense of President Bush and the War on Terror in Iraq (2006) by Howard L. Salter, p. 40
  • Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can't buy enough to eat.
    • As quoted in The Quotable Will Rogers (2006) by Joseph H. Carter
  • When the Judgment Day comes civilization will have an alibi, "I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with."
    • As quoted in The Quotable Will Rogers (2006) by Joseph H. Carter
  • No party is as bad as its state and national leaders.
  • You've never in your life seen a picture, I bet any one of you, never seen a picture of one of these old Pilgrims praying when they didn't have a gun right by the side of them. That was to see that he got what he was praying for.
    • radio broadcast (14 April 1935)
  • That's one thing about Republican Presidents. They never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says "Boys, my head is turned. Just get it while you can."
    • radio broadcast (21 April 1935)

The Illiterate Digest (1924)Edit

I tell you Folks, all Politics is Apple Sauce.
A man that don't love a Horse, there is something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love Horses, then there is something worse the matter with him.
  • The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best.
    • "Breaking into the Writing Game"
  • I tell you Folks, all Politics is Apple Sauce.
  • The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has. Even when you make one out on the level, you don't know when it's through if you are a Crook or a Martyr.
    • "Helping the Girls with their Income Taxes"
  • Everything is funny as long as it is happening to Somebody Else.
  • Now everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody Else, but when it happens to you, why it seems to lose some of its Humor, and if it keeps on happening, why the entire laughter kinder Fades out of it.
    • "Warning to Jokers: Lay off the Prince"
  • I have no Politics. I am for the Party that is out of Power, no matter which one it is. But I will give you my word that, in case of my appointment, I will not be a Republican; I will do my best to pull with you, and not embarrass you. In fact, my views on European affairs are so in accord with you, Mr. President, that I might almost be suspected of being a Democrat.
    • Letter to US President Warren Harding offering to replace the American ambassador to the Court of St. James's in England.
  • The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.
  • Every Gag I tell must be based on truth. No matter how much I may exaggerate it, it must have a certain amount of Truth. ... Now Rumor travels Faster, but it don't stay put as long as Truth.
    • "Politics Getting Ready to Jell"
  • We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.
    • "The World Tomorrow" After the Manner of Great Journalists
  • A man that don't love a Horse, there is something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love Horses, then there is something worse the matter with him.
    • "A Skinny Dakota Kid Who Made Good"

Will Rogers, Ambassador of Good Will, Prince of Wit and Wisdom (1935)Edit

Will Rogers, Ambassador of Good Will, Prince of Wit and Wisdom (1935) by P. J. O'Brien
The thing about my jokes is that they don't hurt anybody. You can say they're not funny or they're terrible or they're good or whatever it is, but they don't do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it's a law. And every time they make a law it's a joke.
  • So when all the yielding and objections is over, the other Senator said, "I object to the remarks of a professional joker being put into the Congressional Record." Taking a dig at me, see? They didn't want any outside fellow contributing. Well, he had me wrong. Compared to them I'm an amateur, and the thing about my jokes is that they don't hurt anybody. You can say they're not funny or they're terrible or they're good or whatever it is, but they don't do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it's a law. And every time they make a law it's a joke.
    • Ch. 9
  • I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.
    • Ch. 9 "Rogers was a lifelong Democrat but he studiously avoided partisanship. He contributed to the Democratic campaign funds, but at the same time he frequently appeared on benefit programs to raise money for the Republican treasury. Republican leaders sought his counsel in their campaigns as often as did the Democrats." ~ P. J. O'Brien
    • Variants: I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat.
      I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.
  • There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole Government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I don't even have to exaggerate.
    • Variant: People often ask me, 'Will, where do you get your jokes?' I just tell 'em, 'Well, I watch the government and report the facts, that is all I do, and I don't even find it necessary to exaggerate.
    • Variant: I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
      • As quoted in Saturday Review (25 August 1962)

The Autobiography of Will Rogers (1949)Edit

  • There is only one thing that can kill the Movies, and that is education.
  • Communism is like prohibition, it's a good idea but it won't work.
  • You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
  • When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad ones you did do — well, that’s Memoirs.

The Will Rogers Book (1972)Edit

Written by Paula McSpadden Love, a niece of Will Rogers's and curator of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma.
  • Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.
  • When I die, my epitaph or whatever you call those signs on gravestones is going to read: "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like." I am so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. And when you come to my grave you will find me sitting there, proudly reading it.
    • "One of his most famous and most quoted remarks. First printed in the Boston Globe, June 16, 1930, after he had attended Tremont Temple Baptist Church, where Dr. James W. Brougher was minister. He asked Will to say a few words after the sermon. The papers were quick to pick up the remark, and it stayed with him the rest of his life. He also said it on various other occasions" ~ Paula McSpadden Love
      • Variant: I joked about every prominent man in my lifetime, but I never met one I didn't like.
      • The earliest dated citation of such a remark thus far found in research for Wikiquote is the one from 1926 about Leon Trotsky from the Saturday Evening Post (6 November 1926).
  • I originated a remark many years ago that I think has been copied more than any little thing that I've every said, and I used it in the FOLLIES of 1922. I said America has a unique record. We never lost a war and we never won a conference in our lives. I believe that we could without any degree of egotism, single-handed lick any nation in the world. But we can't confer with Costa Rica and come home with our shirts on.

The Manly Wisdom of Will Rogers (2001)Edit

"The Manly Wisdom of Will Rogers", in ‪The Friars Club Bible of Jokes, Pokes, Roasts, and Toasts‬ (2001), by Nina Colman, p. 316
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • There are three kinds of men: The ones that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
  • Letting the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back.


MisattributedEdit

  • "I am not so much concerned with the return on capital as I am with the return of capital."
    • The Prudent Professor: Planning and Saving for a Worry-Free Retirement (2011) by Edwin M. Bridges, Brian D. Bridges;
    • Forbes Guide to the Markets: Becoming a Savvy Investor (2009) by Forbes, LLC, Marc M. Groz
    • The National Underwriter, Volume 45 (1941), p. 12: "As Eddie Cantor put it years ago, after getting burned in the stock market, the life insurance policyholder is more interested in the return of his money than in the return on it."
  • Diplomacy is the art of being able to say "nice doggie" until you have time to pick up a rock!
    • quote given unattributed in a 1953 issue of the Tennessee conservationist
  • Diplomacy is the same as saying "nice doggie" until you have a chance to pick up a rock.
    • attributed to Francis Rodman, in volume 64 of The Reader's digest (1954)
    • other variants also attributed to Wynn Catlin in Kiss Me Hardy : Quotations Ancient and (Very) Modern (1982) by Roger Kilroy; and to Winston Churchill by Dick Applegate in a speech reprinted in Volume 75 of "The Carpenter" (1955)

Quotes about RogersEdit

  • Will Rogers was America's most complete human document. He reflected in many ways the heartbeat of America. In thought and manner of appearance and in his daily life he was probably our most typical native born, the closest living approach to what we like to call the true American.
    • Damon Runyon, as quoted in Will Rogers : A Biography (1962) by Donald Day
  • There is a curious parallel between Will Rogers and Abraham Lincoln. They were rare figures whom we could call beloved with ease and without embarrassment.
    • Carl Sandburg, shortly after Roger's death, as quoted in Will Rogers : A Biography (1962) by Donald Day
  • The impact upon the people of America at the death of Will Rogers was similar to that produced by the death of Abraham Lincoln.
    • Robert Sherwood, as quoted in Will Rogers : A Biography (1962) by Donald Day

External linksEdit

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