columnist and film
actor. From his beginnings at the Harvard Lampoon
while attending Harvard University
, through his many years writing essays and articles for Vanity Fair
and The New Yorker
, and his acclaimed short films, Benchley's style of humor brought him respect and success during his life, from New York City
and his peers at the Algonquin Round Table
to contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry.
Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to The New Yorker
, where his essays, whether topical or absurdist, influenced many modern humorists.
The way to go to the circus, however, is with someone who has seen perhaps one theatrical performance before in his life and that in the High School hall. ... The scales of sophistication are struck from your eyes and you see in the circus a gathering of men and women who are able to do things as a matter of course which you couldn’t do if your life depended on it.
At fifteen one is first beginning to realize that everything isn’t money and power in this world, and is casting about for joys that do not turn to dross in one’s hands.
There are two classes of travel — first class, and with children.
I can’t quite define my aversion to asking questions of strangers. From snatches of family battles which I have heard drifting up from railway stations and street corners, I gather that there are a great many men who share my dislike for it, as well as an equal number of women who ... believe it to be the solution to most of this world’s problems.
Nine-tenths of the value of a sense of humor in writing is not in the things it makes one write but in the things it keeps one from writing. It is especially valuable in this respect in serious writing, and no one without a sense of humor should ever write seriously. For without knowing what is funny, one is constantly in danger of being funny without knowing it.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I think that the Younger Generation is up to something.... I base my apprehension on nothing more definite than the fact that they are always coming in and going out of the house, without any apparent reason.
The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. That remark in itself wouldn’t make any sense if quoted as it stands.
The only cure for a real hangover is death.