Anybody can direct, but there are only eleven good writers.
Bad taste is simply saying the truth before it should be said.
Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him.
Humor is just another defense against the universe.
I don't believe in this business of being behind, better to be in front.
If I got a paper cut, that’s a tragedy. If you fell down an open manhole and died, that's comedy.
Variant: I cut my finger. That's tragedy. A man walks into an open sewer and dies. That's comedy.
Variant: Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into and open sewer and die.
I only direct in self-defense.
I'm the only Jew that's made a nickel off of Hitler!
On the success of the film and stage versions of The Producers.
Lady, it rose below vulgarity.
On being criticised by a woman for the 'vulgarness' of The Producers.
I've been accused of vulgarity. I say that's bullshit.
If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets.
Look, I really don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive, you got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.
Variants: Look, I don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive you've got to flap your arms and legs, you've got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you're not alive.
If you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy and colorful and lively.
You're always a little disappointing in person because you can't be the edited essence of yourself.
Wit is sharper than the sharpest dagger.
Good comedy is never frivolous. It’s based on human experience, on human adventure, on human feelings. So it has to be profound.
You could never give your mother as much as she gave you.
The iron test is: Do you laugh? If you laugh, you know they’re gonna laugh.
It’s not like I’ve got these lines in a trunk that are waiting to come out in the next show. But when I’m writing a song that references body organs, you can bet genitalia will be at the top of my list.
Funny depends on coincidental circumstances.
Risk means guessing at the outcome, but never second-guessing.
Why should I indulge myself and do a David Lean-ish kind of film? I could do my little Jewish Brief Encounter and disguise it - shorten the noses. But it wouldn't be as much fun as delivering my dish of insanity".
Critics can't even make music by rubbing their back legs together.
Oh, I'm not a true genius. I'm a near genius. I would say I'm a short genius. I'd rather be tall and normal than a short genius.
Look at Jewish history. Unrelieved lamenting would be intolerable. So, for every ten Jews beating their breasts, God designated one to be crazy and amuse the breast-beaters. By the time I was five I knew I was that one.
You're young forever when you write. Alfred Hitchcock directed until the day he died. As long as you don't have any dementia or Alzheimer's, if you have your All-Bran every day and clear yourself out, I think your brains are gonna be all right.
He could be wicked and cruel, and he could be almost sweet, loving, kind, generous. The great thing about Zero was that he was uniquely gifted. He was really, truly talented, more talented than any actor except for Sid Caesar that I have ever worked with.