For public opinion does not admit that lofty rapturous laughter is worthy to stand beside lofty lyrical emotion and that there is all the difference in the world between it and the antics of a clown at a fair.
(Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (1809-1852), Russian author, dramatist. Dead Souls, pt. 1, ch. 7 (1842), trans. by David Magarshak (1961).)
There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, but there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter and these are the salt of the generations.
(Patrick Henry Pearse (1879-1916), Irish nationalist leader. Commemoration address, March 2, 1914, Brooklyn, N.Y., for Irish patriot Robert Emmet, executed in 1803 for his part in an abortive invasion of Ireland.
Pearse was himself executed by the British in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising, when he was proclaimed president of the provisional republican government.)
I do not know that I meet, in any of my Walks, Objects which move both my Spleen and Laughter so effectually, as those Young Fellows ... who rise early for no other Purpose but to publish their Laziness.
(Richard Steele (1672-1729), British author. The Spectator, No. 49 (1711).)
Unless comedy touches me as well as amuses me, it leaves me with a sense of having wasted my evening. I go to the theatre to be moved to laughter, not to be tickled or bustled into it.
(George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic. first published in the Saturday Review (Feb. 23, 1895). "An Old New Play and a New Old One," The Drama Observed , ed. Bernard F. Dukore, Penn State Press (1993).)
While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.
When you think of the huge uninterrupted success of a book like Don Quixote, you're bound to realize that if humankind have not yet finished being revenged, by sheer laughter, for being let down in their greatest hope, it is because that hope was cherished so long and lay so deep!
(Georges Bernanos (1888-1948), French novelist and political writer. M. Olivier, in The Diary of a Country Priest, ch. 7 (1936).)
You highest men whom I have ever seen! This is my suspicion about you and my secret laughter: I guess that you would call my supermana devil!
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 4, pp. 185-186, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). Zarathustra, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Second Part, "On Human Prudence," (1883).)
Unfortunately the laughter of adults too often carries to the ears of the young the ring of ridicule, that annihilating enemy of human dignity. Like grownups, children enjoy participating in a joke and appreciate admiration of their wit and cleverness, but do not enjoy being the butt of the jokes
(Leontine Young (20th century), U.S. social worker and author. Life Among the Giants, ch. 12 (1965).)
If we cannot accept the importance of the world, which considers itself important, if in the midst of that world our laughter finds no echo, we have but one choice: to take the world as a whole and make it the object of our game; to turn it into a toy.