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Quotes / Gallows Humor

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You cannot spell "Slaughter" without "Laughter"!

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"Whatever success I've had aside, between you and me? This [routine] right here, I've been doing it since I was 18, this is the difference between paycheck... and medication and bedcheck. And don't get me wrong. I want to hear your pain! For God's sake, just put it in joke form, that's all."
Christopher Titus, Norman Rockwell is Bleeding

Laughing is all I can do
Trying to keep from falling through
Nothing ever changes
Nothing ever changes
The Wildhearts, "Nothing Ever Changes"

"If you can't stop the bad thoughts from coming to visit, at least you can make fun of them while they're hanging around."
Harry Dresden, Turn Coat

Gloria: My father raped me when I was twelve.
Arthur: So, you had six relatively good years.
Arthur (1981 film)

“When you lose the power to laugh, you lose your power to think straight.”
Jerome Lawrence, Inherit the Wind

[preparing to surrender to police]
Alfred: I suppose they'll lock me up as well. As your "accomplice".
Bruce: Accomplice? I'm going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.

Londo: How fast does the poison work?
Vir: Very quickly, he said almost instantaneously.
Londo: "Almost"? Feh! How fast is almost? Time enough for him to stagger back into the main room and cry out: "Londo killed me!"? Or maybe just enough time for him to say: "Londo kill... aargh"?
Vir: And then he won't even get that out. I mean, maybe he'll just go: "Lon.. arrgh". Or maybe he's totally delirious and then say everything backwards: "Kill Londo!"
Babylon 5, "The Long Night"

Louis: I don't wanna go to your funeral.
Charlie: Good. 'Cause I don't wanna see you there with all that leather and latex shining and taking attention away from my casket.

Xander: I might need a parrot.
Willow: Huh?
Xander: Well, to go with the eye patch, to really complete the look. I think I still have that costume from Halloween.
Willow: Yeah, and don't underestimate the impact of a peg leg. Maybe the hospital can hook you up with a nice one. Maybe they have a "2 Body Parts For the Price of 1" kind of deal.
Xander: You know what the best part is? No one will ever make me watch Jaws 3D again!
Willow: Yeah, and... (sniffles) you'll never have to... (chokes up)
Xander: Oh, Willow. Please don't.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Empty Places"

"We had to joke about it, because the alternative was to be scared out of your wits."
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games

C-3PO: His high exaltedness, the Great Jabba the Hutt, has decreed that you are to be terminated immediately.
Han Solo: Good! I hate long waits.

Worf: It appears all we have left to do now is be executed.
Ezri: Sounds like a lazy day to me.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Strange Bedfellows"

Chakotay: Seven, I want good news and that’s an order!
Seven: Then I must disobey.
Star Trek: Voyager, "Night"

Cpl. Gabe Garza: How's it feel, motherfucker? How's it feel to be fuckin' dead?
Cpl. Jason Lilley: Bro, it feels sad. I feel very alone. And also, I gotta take a shit.

"If you must mount the gallows, give a jest to the crowd, a coin to the hangman, and make the drop with a smile on your lips."
Birgitte Silverbow, The Wheel of Time

"All humor is gallows humor, and it is on the gallows that we are constrained to learn it."

Laugh or you'll cry. In the middle of all the bullshit we have to put up with - and believe me, it's worse than you can imagine - you have to remember we've been given some tremendous gifts. In spite of it all, kid, we're lucky - damn lucky. We get to fly after all.
So laugh. Look for the humor in everything, because sure as spit it's there, and after drinking dead men's eyes and seeing the horror this rock holds, you'll need it. A moment of laughter at a bad time can tide you over through a bad patch, until you can get the wind behind you and realize how sweet life really is.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Breedbook: Corax

"Laugh at death, and your soul will forever be at peace."

Buffy: Burn marks on the edges of the holes. That would be that thing you do with your eyes, all right.
Supergirl: What are these things?
Buffy: Ghoul demons, most likely. Flesh eaters. They probably went out for dinner, but weren’t expecting such a hot meal.
Supergirl: How can you joke about things like this?
Buffy: Because if I didn’t, I’d have gone raving bonkers when I started Slaying.

Matt Higgins: [already dying of lung cancer] See, after I came in here, I got this really bad problem... couldn't take a shit anymore without it hurting like buggery, see, felt as though I was crapping out bloody Big Ben. Along comes the doctor, and he prescribes laxatives. Good-oh. Then Sister Morgan turns up! "Oooh no, Doctor, I suspect something serious, a closer look at Mister Higgins' workings is in order." So I'm still telling her that no thank you, Mister Higgins is only constipated and would prefer the laxatives, when they wheel in this mad-lookin' contraption! Then they shove this bloody tube up me arsehole! Turns out it's a sodding camera! They're taking pictures of me ringpiece, would you believe.
John Constantine: And...?
Matt Higgins: And what?
John Constantine: What'd they find? Constipation?
Matt Higgins: No.
John Constantine: So what was it?
Matt Higgins: Bowel cancer.
John Constantine: HAHAHAHAHAHA! [wipes tears from his eyes] God almighty. I'm... I'm supposed to saying goodbye to you and all I can do is be your straight man.
Hellblazer: My Way

First Guard: [earnestly explaining] It's funny the way that it would be if you were killed in battle but then your opponent tripped over you and stabbed himself by accident with his own sword.
[longish pause]
Finarfin: And that — thou deemst diversion?
[Nerdanel doesn't comment, but looks rather nauseated]
First Guard: Er... well, it wouldn't make up for being sent here, but — it would be sort of ironic justice, Sir.
[another long pause]
Finrod: One more thing to make a mental note of, Edrahil — battlefield humour doesn't go over well at all, at home.
[his friend shakes his head in grave agreement]
Teler Maid: [thoughtful frown] It would be amusing, if only no one died.

"You see Dr. Wen in there? He's explaining to that family that something went wrong and that the patient died. He's gonna tell them what happened, he's gonna say he's sorry, and then he's going back to work. You think anybody else in that room is going back to work today?
That is why we distance ourselves, that's why we make jokes. We don't do it because it's fun — we do it so we can get by...and sometimes because it's fun. But mostly it's the getting by thing."
Dr Cox, Scrubs, "My Big Brother"


    Real Life 
"We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Benjamin Franklin, to the Continental Congress, just before signing the Declaration of Independence

"The two funniest groups of human beings I've ever been around are Indians and Jewish folks. So I guess that says something about the inherent humor of genocide."

"If you're going to tell someone the truth, you'd better make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you."
George Bernard Shaw

"Human life is basically a comedy. Even its tragedies often seem comic to the spectator, and not infrequently they actually have comic touches to the victim. Happiness probably consists largely in the capacity to detect and relish them. A man who can laugh, if only at himself, is never really miserable."

"There are some things so serious you have to laugh at them."
Niels Bohr

"I do believe that there's a very close connection to what's scary and what's funny. So I think if you have the ability to do one, you might have the ability to do the other."

"If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that's unacceptable."

"One of the things I miss about Gene Siskel is that he's not around to make jokes about my condition... His jokes would have the saving grace of being funny. Here's one I'm pretty sure he would have come up with: 'Well, there's one good thing about Roger's surgery. At least he no longer need a bookmark to find his chin.'"

Kristen Stewart: (on crutches) I know, I’m an idiot. But congratulations!
Anne: Please tell me you’re going on stage with those crutches.
Kristen: Nope. I’m gonna hobble.
Anne: Well, break a leg — Oops!
— Backstage at the 85th Academy Awards

"I’d much rather be doing comedy on a beach in a tiki bar on Costa Rica right now, but they don’t have comedy there, they don’t need comedians, because they’re already smiling naturally. Comedy works when people are miserable and for that reason alone, you are the best audiences on Earth."

"Some media sites had to throw up a disclaimer that the news isn’t a hoax, because as everyone knows, Abe died many times in hoaxes. He was the best sport about it and was in on the gag. He probably said, “I’m not dead yet, bitches,” every time he entered a room."
Michael K., "It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, Abe Vigoda Has Died"

"Comedians get asked a lot whether they were funny as a child. That's probably because it's a more comfortable question than 'Were you a lonely soul struggling for a way to make sense of a society that's inherently absurd and evil?'"

Gabriel: Did you ever see that dude who, like, survived Auschwitz and then filmed himself dancing out in front of the gates? Dude, applaud that.
Yahtzee: That's how you show they didn't win. Once you can laugh about it, that means they've lost.
Gabriel: I won, cunts!
Let's Play Normality

"Proving what a wonderful character he really is, O’Brien manages to find the fun in the very dangerous situation they have wound up in by reacting in horror at his torn trousers! This in turn makes everybody laugh their head off at such ridiculous minutiae when they have just stared death in the face so intimately. "
Doc Oho on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Rocks and Shoals"

"It says a lot about both babies and rubbers that a man would willingly pay someone to cut open his scrotum to ensure he never has to deal with either entity ever again...Every urologist is a fucking comedian. I went for my consult, and the doc had to bend me over and check my prostate. When he stuck his finger up my ass, I squirmed a bit, which is a logical reaction to a stranger poking around inside you. When he pulled out, he joked, 'Well, you wouldn't do so hot in prison.' HE SAID THAT. Swear to God. I bet that was the most well-worn quip in his arsenal."

"A Dr. Demento favorite and influence (both direct and indirect) on musical comedians of later years and today, (Tom) Lehrer remains a cultural icon despite his relatively short performance career and his refusal to write newer songs. While this does mean we are robbed of the sort of topical satire he excelled at, much of Lehrer's songbook remains fresh today, largely due to the gleeful pessimism that is the man's trademark. Yes, underneath the jolly piano vamps and atrocious slant rhymes of his ditties lurks a deep, dark hatred and distrust of humanity, and the bitter tragedy that is modern life: people are foolish idiots, governments are corrupt and ineffectual, and complete annihilation is only one botched political conflict away... With nihilist numbers like this one, it's more than a little surprising Lehrer hasn't turned up in the Fallout universe in some shape or form: "

"I would say laughter is the best medicine. But it’s more than that. It’s an entire regime of antibiotics and steroids. Laughter brings the swelling down on our national psyche, and then applies an antibiotic cream... Obviously, it’s a challenge to make light of the darkness but, um, it’s better than crying about it."

"The earth will be cold tomorrow."
"Ask to be buried in a fur coat."
Pierre Lacenaire and Victor Avril, the night before their execution.

"I'm going to my death by a poor route: Up a stairway."
Lacenaire's Famous Last Words as he was climbing the scaffold

"You can take my hacienda, my land, my wealth, even - as you are going to do - my life. But there is one thing that you cannot take from me: the fear that I have!"

"...look at the blood on the man’s hands. 900 years, countless very selfish choices, and he’s literally blown planets up. His own race, you know, that’s all on his hands. Which is why I think he has to make silly jokes and wear a fez. Because if he didn't, he’d hang himself."

"The best thing to do is laugh. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery."
Stephen Colbert, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, on the 2016 US Presidential Election.

"Humor is an almost physiological response to fear."
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country

"People always ask me, they go, 'How do you laugh when the news is sad?' I tell people it's not that I find things funny, it's that my mind uses that as a tool to protect me from pain."


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