The world lost one of its whip-smartest entertainers today with the passing of legendary funnyman Don Rickles. Though he was often branded an “insult comic,” the Queens native—who was better known as "Mr. Warmth" to his friends and fans—didn’t see it that way. Here are 25 of Rickles’ most memorable quotes.
ON LIFE BEFORE SHOW BUSINESS
“Show business is my life. When I was a kid I sold insurance, but nobody laughed.”
ON BEING FUNNY
“Some people say funny things, but I say things funny.”
"Struggling is hard because you never know what's at the end of the tunnel."
ON BEING BRANDED AN “INSULT COMIC”
“An insult comic is the title I was given. What I do is exaggeration. I make fun of people, at life, of myself and my surroundings.”
“I have my own gym. When you do jokes and they sell, you get a gym.”
ON THE INNATE NATURE OF COMEDY
“You can't study comedy; it's within you. It's a personality. My humor is an attitude."
“I think if I took therapy, the doctor would quit. He'd just pick up the couch and walk out of the room.”
ON FRANK SINATRA
“When you enter a room, you have to kiss his ring. I don't mind, but he has it in his back pocket.”
“Smartphones. Who cares? Smartphones. I only have dummy phones.”
ON ROOM SERVICE
“Room service is great if you want to pay $500 for a club sandwich.”
ON ELIZABETH TAYLOR
“Eddie Fisher married to Elizabeth Taylor is like me trying to wash the Empire State Building with a bar of soap.”
ON LAS VEGAS
“The thing I love about Vegas is that it's a melting pot. It's like working Ellis Island.”
ON JOKE WRITERS
“I've never had a writer, and I'm proud of that. Everything I've performed has been from my own head.”
“You know, every night when I go out on stage, there's always one nagging fear in the back of my mind. I'm always afraid that somewhere out there, there is one person in the audience that I'm not going to offend!”
ON WHAT’S FUNNY
"If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn't be funny, there is a difference between an actual insult and just having fun."
"I always rib people, but nobody ever gives me a hard time. I don't know why. Maybe they're afraid of what I might say. There's probably a lesson in that somewhere, but I don't know what it is."
ON BRINGING YOUR A-GAME
"You throw your best punch—otherwise, don't do it."
“Italians are fantastic people, really. They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera.”
“I used to play golf. I wanted to be a better player, but after a while I realized I'd always stink. And that's when I really started to enjoy the game.”
ON HIS INABILITY TO TELL JOKES
“I'm not a big one for jokes. I can't tell a joke, believe it or not. If you gave me a thousand bucks and said, 'Don, get up at a party and tell a joke', I'm the worst."
ON THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING
“Whatever you do to gain success, you have to hang in there and hope good things happen. Always think positive.”
ON WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SUCCESSFUL
“It takes many years to be a great comedian.”
“I still have drive, but everything is relative.”
"Why should I retire? I'm like a fighter. The bell rings and you come out and fight."
“Once in a while, when I'm alone, I think about my age. I think, How many more years do I have on this earth? But I can't really conceive of dying. Somehow, in my head, I don't think I'll die. I know that everybody dies, of course. I just think that it'll never come to me. It's crazy, but there it is.”