The Wit and Wisdom of Fred Allen

The wit and wisdom of Fred Allen

Fred Allen (1894-1956) was one of the most brilliant comedians of all time. The fact that he is not better known today is one of the great travesties of the ages. After getting his start in Vaudeville, he went into radio and dominated the airwaves for nearly twenty years. His success is remarkable, given that he was not only the star of the program but also the principal writer of the material. A glimpse of his dry, cynical brand of humor can be seen with the following examples of the wit and wisdom of the great Fred Allen:

  • A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary.
  • A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.
  • An income tax form is like a laundry list — either way, you lose your shirt.
  • I don’t want to own anything that won’t fit into my own coffin.
  • A celebrity is a person who works hard all of their life to become well known and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
  • California is a fine place to live — if you happen to be an orange.
  • The first time I sang in the church choir, two hundred people changed their religion.
  • During the Samuel Johnson days, they had big men enjoying small talk; today we have small men enjoying big talk.
  • What’s on your mind, if you will allow the overstatement?
  • I don’t have to look up my family tree, because I know that I’m the sap.
  • The last time I saw him, he was walking down lover’s lane, holding his own hand.
  • My uncle is a Southern planter. He’s an undertaker in Alabama.
  • A telescope will magnify a star a thousand times, but a good press agent can do even better.
  • Hollywood is a place where people from Iowa mistake each other as stars.
  • Television is the triumph of machine over people.
  • All I know about humor is that I don’t know anything about it.
  • I can’t understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars.
  • Some movie stars even wear their sunglasses in church. They’re afraid God might recognize them and ask for autographs.
  • If I could get my membership fee back, I’d resign from the human race.
  • Television is a medium because anything well done is rare.
  • The first thing that strikes a visitor to Paris is a taxi.
  • I learned law so well, the day I graduated, I sued the college, won the case, and got my tuition back.
  • I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
  • Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted.
  • Life, in my estimation, is a biological misadventure that we terminate on the shoulders of six strange men whose only objective is to make a hole in one with you.
  • Most of us spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.
  • Television is a device that permits people who haven’t anything to do to watch people who can’t do anything.
  • I’d rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy.
  • I have just returned from Boston. It is the only thing to do if you find yourself up there.
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
  • Washington is no place for a good actor. The competition from bad actors is too great.
  • An associate producer is the only guy in Hollywood who will associate with a producer.
  • The vice-president of an advertising agency is a bit of executive fungus that forms on a desk that has been exposed to conference.
  • My father never raised his hand to any one of his children, except in self-defense.
  • Radio is a bag of mediocrity where little men with carbon minds wallow in a sluice of their own making.
  • An actor’s popularity is fleeting. His success has the life expectancy of a small boy who is about to look into a gas tank with a lighted match. (Read about the disaster that resulted from looking for a gas leak with an open flame.)

Read more fun facts about Old Time Radio.

Read more funny quotes.

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