Tom Lehrer quotes

  • Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Life #Music #Play

  • Always predict the worst, and you'll be hailed as a prophet.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Prophet #Worst

  • I find that if you take the various popular song forms to their logical extremes, you can arrive at almost anything from the ridiculous to the obscene-or, as they say in New York, sophisticated.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #New York #Ridiculous

  • If you asked me to write a rock song or a rap song, I couldn't do it because they're not in my fingers.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Rap #Writing

  • Bad weather always looks worse through a window.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Rainy Day #Weather #Looks

  • I'm not an original composer. The tunes are not stolen from other tunes necessarily except in a few cases, but they're in the style of songs that I grew up with.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Style #Tunes

  • We are the folk song army, every one of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice unlike the rest of you squares.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Peace #War

  • Well I wasn't really attacking the religious beliefs, I was attacking the formality of the rituals of the Catholic church; however, people took it wrongly.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Religious #People #Catholic

  • If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Hearing #Nasty

  • The people who came to hear me perform or to buy my records were not the type who would be offended. But I gather that there were other people who were offended.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #People #Records #Would Be

  • I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Funny #Cute Love #Sarcastic

  • I'm very proud of myself on my, whatever the literacy is, I'm pretentious, totally pretentious. I like to say 'hmm', for example.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Proud #Example #Literacy

  • I feel that if a person has problems communicating the very least he can do is to shut up.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Communication #Shut Up #Problem

  • And although I'm all for freedom of expression and against censorship, there are certain things I'm not willing to go to jail for.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Jail #Expression #Censorship

  • Life is like a sewer what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." It's always seemed to me that this is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need today in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Positive Thinking #Life Is Like #Trying

  • Everything is so weird in politics that it's very hard to be funny about it, I think.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Thinking

  • On my income tax 1040 it says 'Check this box if you are blind.' I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Three #Income #Blind

  • I've heard it quoted that I was dead. You can't believe anything you read. That was just an off-hand remark somebody picked up, and now it's been quoted and quoted, and therefore misquoted.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Believe #Hands #Heard

  • Be careful not to do your good deeds when there's no one watching you.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Funny #Sarcastic #Deeds

  • Once you've heard the joke, it's not funny anymore, but it's the way it's told. And I think that's the same with the music: The reason some of my songs have lasted longer is there's a lot of stuff packed in there. You want to hear them more than once.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Thinking #Want

  • Political satire became obsolete when they awarded Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Political #Henry Kissinger #Satire

  • I would do nightclubs and concerts - particularly concerts, which is mostly what I did - and only people who already agreed with me would show up. People weren't going to come and inadvertently turn on their television set and find this offensive stuff coming out.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #People #Television #Stuff

  • I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Inspirational #Work #People

  • I figure I wrote 37 songs in 20 years, and that's not exactly a full-time job. It wasn't that I was writing and writing and writing and quit.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Jobs #Writing

  • It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Two #Years #Age

  • Comedy is very important, yes. For one thing, it keeps you sane. But it's not really a conversion. I mean, it's marginally a conversion, because if people tune in or go to a nightclub or even watch television, and hear that a lot of other people are laughing at something you thought was not funny, at least it'll force you to reconsider.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Mean #Laughing #People

  • I find that people can pass me on the street who've just seen my picture in the paper and they wouldn't recognize me. If they'd seen me on television, the heads turn. They say, "Wait a minute. I don't know who that is, but he's somebody.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #People #Waiting #Television

  • People would go anywhere to see a famous person in the flesh, no matter what they do.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #People #Matter #Flesh

  • If I see a movie star in the department store buying something, I'll kind of sidle up and see what they're saying, what they look like, how they sound. That's an invasion of privacy.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Stars #Looks #Invasion

  • I don't have the temperament of a performer, and I certainly couldn't do it every night.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Night #Temperament #Performers

  • Don't write naughty words on the wall if you can't spell!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Wall #Writing #Naughty

  • The reason most folksongs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #People #Reason

  • Don't solicit for your sister, it's not nice. Unless you get a good percentage of her price.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Nice #Moral #Manners

  • You cant be satirical and not be offensive to somebody.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Offensive #Satirical

  • I think that if people are having trouble communicating with one another, the least they can do is SHUT UP.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Thinking #People #Shut Up

  • Irreverence is easy - whats hard is wit.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Irreverence #Easy #Wit

  • When someone makes a move Of which we don't approve, Who is it that always intervenes? U.N. and O.A.S., They have their place, I guess, But first send the Marines!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Peace #War #Moving

  • As for language, almost everything goes now. That is not to say that verbal taboos have disappeared, but merely that they have shifted somewhat. In my youth, for example, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl'.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Girl #Example #Youth

  • I have always found it interesting... that there are people who regard copyright infringement as a form of flattery.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Interesting #People #Flattery

  • My last public performance for money was in 1967. For free, it was 1972, with the exception of two little one-shot, one-song things. But thats just for friends, out of friendship for the people involved, and also because it was fun.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Fun #Two

  • So long, Mom I'm off to drop the bomb So don't wait up for me But while you swelter Down there in your shelter You can see me On your TV
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Mom #Long #Waiting

  • The real issues I don't think most people touch. The Clinton jokes are all about Monica Lewinsky and all that stuff and not about the important things, like the fact that he wouldn't ban landmines...I'm not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirize George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporize them. And that's not funny....OK, well, if I say that, I might get a shock laugh, but it's not really satire.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Real #Writing

  • Some of you may have met mathematicians and wondered how they got that way.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #May #Way #Wonder

  • I ache for the touch of your lips dear, but much more for the touch of your whips dear.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Lips #Ache #Dear

  • Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Hippie #Air #Water

  • Plagiarize, plagiarize, / Let no man's work evade your eyes, / Remember why the good Lord made your eyes, / Don't shade your eyes, / But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize. / Only be sure to call it research.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Eye #Men #Research

  • On Christmas day you can't get sore, your fellow man you must adore. There's time to cheat him all the more the other three hundred and sixty-four
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Christmas #Men #Three

  • I find enough mystery in mathematics to satisfy my spiritual needs. I think, for example, that pi is mysterious enough (don't get me started!) without having to worry about God. Or if pi isn't enough, how about fractals? or quantum mechanics?
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Spiritual #Thinking #Worry

  • I recall this sergeant's informing me and my "room-mates" of this rather deplorable fact the army didn't have any official, excuse me, didn't have no official song and suggested that we work on this in our copious free time.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Song #Army #Rooms

  • The Army has carried the American ... ideal to its logical conclusion. Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Funny #Military #Army

  • When you attend a funeral, It is sad to think that sooner o' Later those you love will do the same for you. And you may have thought it tragic, Not to mention other adjec- Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do. (But don't you worry.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Thinking #Worry #Funeral

  • And we will all go together when we go. What a comforting fact that is to know. Universal bereavement, An inspiring achievement, Yes, we will all go together when we go.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Achievement #Comforting #Bereavement

  • Step up and shake the hand Of someone you can't stand, You can tolerate him if you try!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Hands #Trying #Steps

  • Oh we will all fry together when we fry. We'll be french fried potatoes by and by. There will be no more misery When the world is our rotisserie, Yes, we will all fry together when we fry.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Together #Potatoes #World

  • Counting in octal is just likst counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Thumbs #Use #Counting

  • Apart from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Play #Enjoy

  • But in the new (math) approach, the important thing is to understand what you're doing, rather than to get the right answer.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Math #Important #Answers

  • Hark, the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Advertising

  • Angels we have heard on High Tell us to go out and Buy.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Humorous #Angel #Heard

  • I wasn't really a performer by temperament,
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Temperament #Performers

  • I went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Maturity #Trying #Bypass

  • If the hoods don't get you, the monoxide will.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Hood

  • In my youth there were words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can't say 'girl.'
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Girl #Youth

  • Once all the Germans were warlike and mean But that couldn't happen again We taught them a lesson in nineteen eighteen And they've hardly bothered us since then
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Prayer #Mean #Lessons

  • Soon we'll be out amid the cold world's strife. Soon we'll be sliding down the razor blade of life. But as we go our sordid sep'rate ways, We shall ne'er forget thee, thou golden college days. Hearts full of youth, Hearts full of truth, Six parts gin to one part vermouth.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Heart #Past #College

  • Well, you ask a silly question, and you get a silly answer.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Silly #Answers #Wells

  • In one word he told me the secret of success in mathematics: plagiarize; only be sure always to call it . . . research.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Secret #Research #Mathematics

  • Disclaimer: If anyone disagrees with anything I say, I am quite prepared to not only retract it, but also to deny under oath I ever said it.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Humorous #Profound #Insane

  • No one is more dangerous than someone who thinks he has The Truth. To be an atheist is almost as arrogant as to be a fundamentalist. But then again, I can get pretty arrogant.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Atheist #Thinking #Arrogant

  • Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics/ And the Catholics hate the Protestants/ And the Hindus hate the Muslims/ And everybody hates the Jews.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Hate #Catholic #Religion

  • You can make fun with Saddam Hussein jokes ... but you can't make fun of, say, the concentration camps. I think my target was not so much evil, but benign stupidity people doing stupid things without realising or, instead, thinking they were doing good.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Fun #Stupid #Thinking

  • All books can be indecent books, though recent books are bolder. For filth, I'm glad to say, is in the mind of the beholder. When correctly viewed, everything is lewd. I could tell you things about Peter Pan and the Wizard of OZ, there's a dirty old man!
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Book #Dirty #Men

  • Speaking of love, one problem that recurs more and more frequently these days, in books and plays and movies, is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love; husbands and wives who can't communicate, children who can't communicate with their parents, and so on. And the characters in these books and plays and so on (and in real life, I might add) spend hours bemoaning the fact that they can't communicate. I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Children #Husband #Real

  • The Lord's our shepherd, says the psalm. But just in case, we better get a bomb.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Bombs #Politics #Shepherds

  • The civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it, owing to the nature of the laws, as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on. But we know what's really involved, dirty books are fun. That's all there is to it. But you can't get up in a court and say that.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Fun #Dirty #Book

  • From the three, you then use one to make eight ones. You add those ones to the three, and you get one-three base eight, or, in other words, In base ten you have eleven, and you take away seven. And seven from eleven is four. Now go back to the sixty-fours, you're left with two.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Two #Eight #Three

  • If I can't get people to commit themselves on whether or not there is a square root of two, then I won't touch on God or anything here
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Commitment #Squares #Two

  • Base eight is just like base ten really, if you're missing two fingers.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Eight #Two #Missing

  • There's ten stuffed heads in my trophy room right now, two game wardens, seven hunters, and a cow.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Animal #Games #Two

  • Alas, irreverence has been subsumed by mere grossness, at least in the so-called mass media. What we have now, to quote myself at my most pretentious, is a nimiety of scurrility with a concomitant exiguity of taste.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Funny #Media #Television

  • Filth, I'm glad to say, is in the mind of the beholder. When correctly viewed, everything is lewd.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Sex #Mind #Filth

  • The poor folks hate the rich folks, and the rich folks hate the poor folks. All of my folks hate all of your folks, it's American as apple pie.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Hate #Apples #Pie

  • They love us everywhere we go. So when in doubt, send the Marines.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Marine #Doubt #Politics

  • Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Rockets #Who Cares #Care

  • You can raise welts like nobody else, as we dance to the Masochism Tango.
    -- Tom Lehrer

    #Dancing #Tango #Raises

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