The art of social satire is a tough one, but a great humorist's keen observations, witticisms, and turns of phrase continue to ring true even decades later. "Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations," the musical comedian Victor Borge once noted. "There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." (In other words, it's funny 'cause it's true.) Here are 15 more quips from some of America's most astute commentators.
1. MARK TWAIN (1835-1910)
"Familiarity breeds contempt—and children."
2. DOROTHY PARKER (1893-1967)
"That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment."
3. JAMES THURBER (1894-1961)
"Last night I dreamed of a small consolation enjoyed only by the blind: Nobody knows the trouble I've not seen!"
4. NORA EPHRON (1941-2012)
"Summer bachelors, like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be."
5. GORE VIDAL (1925-2012)
"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."
6. ARTEMUS WARD (1834-1867)
"They drink with impunity, or anybody who invites them."
7. GERTRUDE STEIN (1874-1946)
"The thing that differentiates man from animals is money."
8. FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS (1881-1960)
"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory."
9. ETHEL WATERS (1896-1977)
"All the men in my life have been two things: an epic and an epidemic."
10. ROBERT BENCHLEY (1889-1945)
"Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding a felony."
11. AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914)
"Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited."
12. MAE WEST (1893-1980)
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
13. GEORGE S. KAUFMAN (1889-1961)
"At dramatic rehearsals, the only author that's better than an absent one is a dead one."
14. VICTOR BORGE (1909-2000)
"Santa Claus has the right idea—visit people only once a year."
15. GEORGE CARLIN (1937-2008)
"Atheism is a non-prophet organization."