According to Wikipedia "wit is a form of intelligent humour, the ability to say or write things that are clever and usually funny. A wit is a person skilled at making clever and funny remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee."
I have always wanted to be witty. I can be very witty about ten minutes after the great wit was actually needed. I think that one of the great things about being a novelist is being able to put wise and witty words into the mouths of characters as if it flowed from their tongue. When, in actual fact, the writer has spent a good fortnight thinking up that effortless quip.
Having said that, a friend of mine once commented, ‘Caro, you should have gone into surgery as a career, with a tongue like yours you’d never need a scalpel.’
So here are some well known quips and put downs...
Famous put down to a heckler… “If I throw a stick will you leave?”
Or as Billy Connolly used to say ‘Do I come to your work and show you how to sweep up?’ More about him later.
When John Pentland Malhaffie heard of the illness of the man who had beaten him to the provost ship of Trinity Dublin, he said ‘Nothing trivial I hope?”
“I am inclined to think…..’
‘Then you should do so.” This is a famous Conan Doylism.
My friend has a habit of saying 'I've just had a thought.' It's too easy to reply, 'Well that's a start, isn't it.'
“Her brain is a cage of canaries.” Virginia Woolf on this lady...
Lydia Lopokova, when the dancer claimed she has a serious thought every day.
That's sisterhood for you!
“He has the sort of face that makes you realise God does have a sense of humour.” – Bill Bryson.
Barbara, about to make a start on the hoovering.
One of my favourites from Clive James who had just interviewed Barbara Cartland “Twin miracles of mascara, her eyes look like the corpses of two chalk crows which had crashed into a cliff.”
Gregor Fisher and his comedy comb over.
“Never trust a man who combs his hair straight from his left armpit.” – Alice Roosvelt Longworth.
“The covers of this book are too far apart.” - Ambrose Bearce.
Nancy Banks Smith’s review of The Far Pavilions, “This is one of those big fat paperbacks intended to while away a monsoon or two which if thrown with a good over arm action will bring a water buffalo to its knees.”
“Listen dear you couldn’t write f*** on a dusty venetian blind.” Alan Bennet’s great retort to somebody who had disliked his screenplay.
“She plunged into a sea of platitudes and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer made her way to the white cliffs of the obvious.” – Somerset Maughan in a Writer's Notebook.
‘I liked your opera I think I’ll set it to music.” – Beethoven to a fellow composer.
“He is a modest man who has a great deal to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee.
“So boring you fall asleep half way through her name.” – Alan Bennett on Ariana Stasinopoulos.
Mary Higgins Clark said with great honesty.... “Some of the editors wrote rejection slips which were more creative than what I had written. On my tenth submission to Red Book … “Miss Clark, your stories are light, slight and trite. ”My first novella was returned with this succinct note. We found the heroine as boring as her husband had.”
“A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car.” – Kenneth Tynan. Indeed, and there are no great statues of critics!
“When I look at these works, culture only makes me think of yogurt.” – Edna Veiss.
“About as cuddly as a cornered ferret.” – Lynn Barber on Anne Robinson. I still prefer ferrets to Anne Robinson, ferrets are some purpose at least.
“Tony Hately had it all, the only thing he lacked was ability.” – Tommy Docherty. Talking about football but I can think of a few writers that could apply to.
Golf is not a sport. Golf is men in ugly pants walking.” – Robin Williams. Yip! Did you see the get ups at the British Open at St Andrews or did you miss it, thinking it was sub aqua golf?
“Like an octopus falling out of a tree.” Which was Feherty on Jim Furyk’s swing. I had no idea what that was about, but it is a you tube sensation. I'll leave golfers to comment more (Stanley?). but he will need a good osteopath soon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTuTrpWCZhU.... if you want to see the swing!
Colin is better at golf than Mildred the warthog.
“Colin Montgomery has a face like a warthog that has been stung by a wasp.”
A probably apocryphal flying quote. Plane has landed, Air Traffic Control say to pilot 'You landed a bit to the right of the runway.'
'Yes, ' replied the pilot, 'And I think you will find my co pilot landed a little to the left.'
"If they had stuffed the child’s head up the horse’s arse they would have solved two problems at once.” – Noel Coward on Bonnie Langford’s performance after the horse defecated on the stage.
Some of my favourite Connollyisms....
"Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares? He's a mile away and you've got his shoes!”
"There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter".
"Scotland has the only football team in the world that does a lap of disgrace.''
And one my Dad uses. His grandchild is trying to play the piano....
'He certainly has an ear for music. Shame it's Van Gogh's ear.'
Caro Ramsay 24/07/2015