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Wisdom From the Greats #1: Inspiration

October 8, 2010

This is the first of what will be a series of quotes I have collected over time from a variety of stand-up comics. Each part will focus on a different aspect of stand-up, and this installment’s theme is:


Whooa… Double rainbow… All the way!

Before a bit is performed, before it’s even written, there is that perfect, completely personal, moment of inspiration. The comic is walking along and it hits. Hey, that’s funny. The moment passes, but, perhaps captured in a notebook it is later prodded, cut, pulled and re-arranged until it has found a configuration that will connect with an audience. But this first spark, for me anyway, is the whole point of art, why artists feel compelled to create. Here’s what 5 famous comics had to say on the topic of inspiration.

1) Richard Belzer

“Creativity is a blessing and a curse. If you don’t tend to it, it will do other things to you.”
–Richard Belzer (From Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy by Franklin Ajaye)

2) George Carlin

“As long as you have observations to make, as long as you can se things and let them register against your template, as long as you’re able to take impressions and compare them with the old ones, you will always have material. The truth is, I can’t run out of ideas – not as long as I keep getting new information and I can keep processing it.”
-George Carlin (From Last Words by George Carlin)

3) Bill Maher

“You want to be in touch with every day life. Becoming famous, removed – that’s bad for a comedian.”
–Bill Maher (From Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy by Franklin Ajaye)

4) Ed Wynn

“You have to have a sense of the ridiculous… you have to see something funny in everything.”
–Ed Wynn (From Great Comedians Talk About Comedy by Larry Wilde)

5) George Wallace

“Let’s make this clear – my job is to always have my antennas out.”
–George Wallace (From Comic Insights: The Art of Standup Comedy by Franklin Ajaye)

I should mention that these comics are not necessarily my favourites, but I stand by their insight into stand-up comedy I would love to hear your thoughts on these quotes.

And if all of that failed to inspire you, give this a try:

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