Talk:Woody Allen

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Woody Allen page.

Annie Hall (1977)

I thought of that old joke: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken.' And the doctor says, 'Well why don't you turn him in?' and the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. They're totally irrational and crazy and absurd, but I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.

In Episode 10 Season 2 of House MD, Stacy uses the above Woody Allen quotation, but before she can deliver the egg punchline, House interrupts with "curry", as a reference to dialog earlier in the episode when Stacy used Vindaloo curry as a metaphor for House.Failure to Communicate


  • Eighty percent of success is showing up.
    • Not sure what the original source was, but William Safire contacted Allen and he verified having said it on this page of Safire's 1992 book The First Dissident. Also see this column by William Safire, where Allen recalls that he made the comment "during an interview while we were discussing advice to young writers, and more specifically young playwrights." Hypnosifl 00:57, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • Earliest sources I find are Quest Volume 3 which seems to be from 1979, and which has the snippet "Woody Allen likes to say that 90 percent of life is just" (it cuts off after that), and Qualitative Methodology which is also from 1979 and which has a snippet that says "If Woody Allen is right in his claim that 90 percent of success lies in getting it done and turned in on time". Hypnosifl 10:17, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • The Freakonomics blog here mentions that the Yale Book of Quotations says "Showing up is 80 percent of life" appeared in a New York Times story on 21 August 1977. I downloaded this story and it is in there, but it's just attributed to Woody Allen by his Annie Hall co-writer Marshall Brickman, who says "As Woody says, 'Showing up is 80 percent of life.'" So this isn't the interview Allen recalled as where he first said the phrase in the William Safire column. Hypnosifl 04:47, 17 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.
    • Earliest published reference I find is this 2007 book which itself cites a 2004 article by someone called "Steiner", which from the note was a review of a religious book and thus probably not a primary source. The book under review was by someone called "Bouretz" so Steiner's article is probably "Zion's Shadows" from the 27 Feb 2004 London Times Literary Supplement, referenced here and here. Hypnosifl 10:29, 12 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • Found an earlier one, the variant "eternity is a long time, especially towards the end" from the 6 January 2001 issue of the British Medical Journal in an article by "Kevin Barraclough, general practitioner", see snippets here and here. Looks like the article is this one from the site. Hypnosifl 10:42, 12 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • An email from Quote Investigator which is quoted here mentions that the earliest citations seem to be in French, and if you google "'l'éternité", "long", and "surtout vers la fin" you do get earlier citations, like this one from 1984 which credits it to Woody Allen, but there are much earlier citations which don't credit it to Allen, the earliest I found is the 1965 book Le Roi Des Rats by Maurice Frot, which says "il en avait pour l'éternité et c'est long, oui, « surtout vers la fin », disait le Tchèque." But who knows if Frot originated it or was just quoting someone else. And the next one after that I find is the 1969 book Le Temps de boules de neige by Pierre Henri Degrégori which says "Je me suis dit in petto : « Mon vieux, si tu ne trouves rien d'original dans les deux secondes qui viennent tu vas être porté absent pour un bout de temps, peut-être pour l'éternité, et l'éternité c'est long, surtout vers la fin. » Mais au bout d'une seconde et demie, elle a appuyé sur la détente." Hypnosifl 23:11, 12 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • Quoted by Stephen Hawking on Tuesday, July 4th, 2006 during CNN Talk Asia : << Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end, as Woody Allen said. >> (Talkasia Transcript)
  • Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand.
    • On google books the earliest books that have both "sex is like playing bridge" and "woody allen" are from 2005, like this one. But if you take away "woody allen" there are earlier books that give the quote as an anonymous saying (and one case that attributes it to Mae West), earliest I found is the 1989 book Acting: Onstage and Off by Robert Barton. Hypnosifl 03:20, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy.
    • The quote appears in Esquire Volume 84, which is from 1975--the snippets shown in the google search "His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy. Finally, there is Death going off with two actors. This is not a scene from the movie— it actually happened. This should convince you of the trouble this production experienced. In the end, though, the project was saved. I personally made a covenant with God : In return for His infinite mercy, He gets all foreign distribution rights." This volume also contains the article Woody Allen on Love and Death, so it might be from there, someone would need to check though. Hypnosifl 03:31, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?
  • I do occasionally envy the person who is religious naturally, without being brainwashed into it or suckered into it by all the organized hustles.
    • Rolling Stone, 1987
    • Also appears in The Woody Allen Companion on p. 41, and the snippet directly above here shows that it is from a Rolling Stone interview, probably the same as p. 39's "The Rolling Stone Interview: Woody Allen" by William Geist. Searching elsewhere reveals that this interview is from the 9 April 1987 issue of Rolling Stone.
  • I don't believe in science. Science is an intellectual dead end. You know, it's a lot of little guys in tweed suits cutting up frogs on foundation grants.
  • I don't think my parents liked me. They put a live teddy bear in my crib.
  • I idolized Superman when I was younger. I thought he and I had a lot in common. He was always going into phonebooths and taking off all his clothes.
    • Also on p. 193 of Woody Allen: A Biography is "When I was a kid I used to identify with Superman. I felt Superman and I had many traits in common because he used to go into phone booths all the time and remove his clothing." Hypnosifl 09:40, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • I have an intense desire to return to the womb. Anybody's.
    • Earliest attribution I find is in Esquire volume 62 which is from 1964. Also attributed to him in a 1974 New Yorker profile by Penelope Gilliatt here, although it's not clear if he actually said it to Gilliatt or if she was just repeating a funny line she had seen from him elsewhere. Hypnosifl 05:52, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • I prefer masturbation. You meet a better class of people that way.
    • Can't find any published source giving firsthand evidence that Allen ever said this. The earliest version of a joke with "masturbation" and "better class of people" I find on google books is in a 1988 book about Roy Cohn, see the successive snippets here and here. It's possible Cohn was just repeating an old joke though, since it also appears in the 1989 book A Treasury of Humor (search google books for "you don't get anybody pregnant you don't catch any diseases and you meet a better class of people", it's the only result that comes up). Perhaps someone got this confused with Woody Allen's quote from Annie Hall, "Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love." Hypnosifl 06:11, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.
    • Earliest version I found was in the 1967 Reader's Digest, Volume 91, according to the snippets here and here the version they give is "I took a course in speed reading, learning to read straight down the middle of the page, and I was able to go through War and Peace in 20 minutes. It's about Russia." They attribute it to "Herb Caen in San Francisco Chronicle" though no date is given, and the Chronicle's web site doesn't allow you to search articles from before 1995. Hypnosifl 06:39, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead — not sick, not wounded — dead.
  • If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse
    • Only two sources on google books, one from 2005 and the other from 2007, and the 2007 one incorrectly attaches it to the end of a genuine quote from the ending of his movie Love and Death (see 1:31 in this video), "If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever." So, looks pretty dubious. Hypnosifl 07:14, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • If my films don't show a profit, I know I'm doing something right.
    • Appears in Newsweek, Volume 132, Issues 1-9 from 1998, this snippet indicates it's from a story called "Knock on Woody, He's Doing Fine: The director responds to rumors of turmoil" by Jack Kroll. The accessible snippet says 'Miramax Films is already working on a new marketing strategy, but for his part, Allen has never seen a need to pander for box office. "In today's American film market, if my films don't show a profit I know I'm doing something right."' From here and here, the story seems to be dated 20 July 1998.
  • If my film makes one more person feel miserable, I'll feel I've done my job.
  • It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better ... while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.
    • From his book Side Effects, p. 15. The full quote is "It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better, Cloquet thought, while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more." Hypnosifl 07:35, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Life is like a concentration camp... you can't leave without dying.
    • Can't find any evidence that he said "you can't leave without dying" but on p. 46 of Woody Allen: Interviews (in "An Interview With Woody" by Frank Rich, Time, 30 April 1979) he does say "There's a speech I had to get out of Manhattan and plan to get into the next film, where my character says that the metaphor for life is a concentration camp. I do believe that. The real question in life is how one copes in that crisis. I just hope I'm never tested, because I'm very pessimistic about how I would respond. I worry that I tend to moralize, as opposed to being moral." Also, p. 40 of Jewish Humor quotes him saying "Life is a concentration camp. You're stuck here and there's no way out, and you can only rage impotently against your persecutors." A slightly different version of the quote, "Life is like a concentration camp. You're stuck here and there's no way out. You can only rage impotently against your persecutors" appears in Planks of Reason, p. 101, and the footnote indicates it's from "Woody Allen Wipes the Smile Off His Face" by Frank Rich, Esquire, May 1977. Hypnosifl 08:00, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Love is the answer, but while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty interesting questions.
    • The earliest version I could find was in an extra section titled "Quotations According to Woody Allen" which is attached to the New York Times article "Everything You Wanted to Know About Woody Allen at 40" by Mel Gusso, 1 December 1975. The snippet there gives the quote as "Love is the answer. But while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions." Only problem with this source is that the article writers were probably just collecting good Allen quotes from other sources rather than reporting things he said to them. Hypnosifl 08:19, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • Never mind that last sentence, the writer of the article probably did get the quotes directly from Woody Allen since the intro says "At 40, Mr. Allen commented on some favorite subjects, including love and death." (and the main article is about him turning 40). Hypnosifl 15:34, 10 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Most of the time I don't have much fun. The rest of the time I don't have any fun at all.
  • My luck is getting worse and worse. Last night, for instance, I was mugged by a Quaker.
    • Only 4 hits on google books for "mugged by a quaker" and "woody allen" neither of which give an original source, but several sources say the movie Sleeper featured the line "I'm not the heroic type, really. I was beaten up by quakers." Hypnosifl 09:05, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies.
    • Misquoted version of the opening to his 1970 New Yorker piece "A Look at Organized Crime" which appears in Disquiet, Please! More Humor Writing from the New Yorker, p. 364. The actual quote is "It is no secret that organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year. This is quite a profitable sum, especially when one considers that the Mafia spends very little for office supplies." Hypnosifl 09:19, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Sex is only dirty if it's done right.
    • A bunch of sources say it's from his movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, and that the actual line is "Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right." Hypnosifl 09:23, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Students achieving Oneness will move on to Twoness.
    • According to Blind Men and Elephants, p. 47, it's from a fictional course description of Philosophy I which is included in his piece "Spring Bulletin" from The New Yorker, 29 April 1967.
  • The Government is unresponsive to the needs of the little man. Under five-seven, it is impossible to get your Congressman on the phone.
    • Appears in his piece "My Speech to the Graduates" which appears in Hail to Thee Okoboji U! A Humor Anthology on Higher Education, p. 287. Apparently originally published in the New York Times on 10 August 1979.
  • The two biggest myths about me are that I'm an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I'm an artist because my films lose money. Those two myths have been prevalent for many years.
    • Seems to be a misquote of a comment that appeared in some issue of Newsweek: Volume 139 from 2002, the snippet shows the actual quote is: "The French make two mistakes about me. They think I'm an intellectual because I wear these glasses and they think I'm an artist because my films lose money." Also you can see from the snippet above that on the right there's a bit of a different article which contains the line "I like to position myself as the brave rebel", and searching for that reveals here that it's from an article about Jimmy Kimmel that appeared in the 26 May 2002 issue of Newsweek, and at the end there is the line "Woody's Cannes-Do" which is presumably the title of the story that the Allen quote appeared in. Hypnosifl 09:40, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • There's more to life than sitting around in the sun in your underwear playing the clarinet.
    • No quote like this can be found on google books searching for "woody allen", "more to life" and "clarinet". Nor does "woody allen" and "in your underwear" turn up any similar quotes. Hypnosifl 09:43, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?
  • You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
    • According to p. 193 of Philosophy Goes to the Movies it's a line from his movie Interiors, and the quote is actually "You'll live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to." Hypnosifl 09:55, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.