If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Quoted in “Ideas on Film,” Saturday Review (1951)

The line has been used by (and so misattributed to) Billy Wilder, Charles Ludlam, Richard Pryor, Dustin Hoffman, and James L. Brooks. It is sometimes misattributed to Oscar Wilde, though he'd been dead fifty years before its first recorded appearance.

  • If you’re going to tell people the truth, be funny or they’ll kill you.
  • If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.
More discussion on this quotation and some of its predecessors: If You Want To Tell People the Truth, You’d Better Make Them Laugh or They’ll Kill You – Quote Investigator.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Jun-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Shaw, George Bernard

Thoughts? Comments? Corrections? Feedback?