18 Timeless Will Rogers Quotes for his 135th Birthday
William Penn Adair Rogers—who was born on November 4, 1879—ranks among the finest performers, comedians, and social commentators in American history. So today, let’s all celebrate by finding an excuse to recite some of his best remarks.
1. “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.” — From Illiterate Digest
2. “Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years we will have the smartest people on earth.” — From Weekly Articles
3. "I was born on Nov. 4, which is election day ... my birthday has made more men and sent more back to honest work than any other days in the year." — in The Daily Telegraph
4. “When I first started out to write and misspelled a few words, people said I was plain ignorant. But when I got all the words wrong, they declared I was a humorist.” — via the University of Oklahoma
5. “Live in such a way that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.” — via his official website
6. “Best doctor in the world is a veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what’s the matter. He’s just got to know.” — via MSU Veterinarian
7. “It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be human.” — From Will Rogers' Daily Telegrams
8. "This Einstein has proven a great comfort to us that always knew we didn’t know much. He has shown us that the fellows that we thought was smart is just as dumb as we are." — in The Daily Telegraph
9. “There is nothing as easy as denouncing ... It don’t take much to see that something is wrong but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.” — From Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
10. “A fanatic is always the fellow that is on the opposite side.” — From Radio Broadcasts of Will Rogers
11. "Eventually you reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it." — via the State of California Park Service, compiled by Will Rogers's historian
12. "Everything is changing in America. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." — in The Daily Telegraph
13. “This would be a great world to dance in if we didn’t have to pay the fiddler.” — via Will Rogers' Daily Telegrams: Volume 2
14. “[Get] a few laughs and do the best you can… Live your life so that whenever you lose, you’re ahead.” — From Weekly Articles
15. "I was born on election day but never was able to get elected to anything. I am going to jump out some day and be indefinite enough about everything that they will call me a politician, then run on a platform of question marks, and be elected unanimously." — From Weekly Articles
16. "Finding things to tax is becoming quite a problem. You see when taxes first started, (who started 'em anyhow?) Noah must have taken into the ark two taxes, one male and one female, and did they multiply bountifully! Next to guinea pigs, taxes must have been the most prolific of animals." — From Weekly Articles, the Roosevelt Years
17. "Everybody is ignorant only on different subjects" — via The Will Rogers Book, by his niece Paula MsSpadden Love
18. "We don’t know what we want, but we’re ready to bite somebody to get it." — in The Daily Telegraph
And Here’s One Thing He Technically Didn’t Say:
“I never met a man I didn’t like.”
Ironically, for somebody who came up with so much Grade A material, most people associate Rogers with a long-lived misquote. In actuality, the full, unaltered line was “I joked about every prominent man in my lifetime, but I never met one I didn’t like.” A few years before his death in 1935, Rogers proposed it as an epitaph for his tombstone. However, the shortened version does appear chiseled upon his final resting place in Claremore, Oklahoma.
FURTHER READING: Will Rogers: A Biography; Will Rogers Versus the News: Humorist Ponders Current Events.