Woody Allen Quotes

80% of success is showing up.

A lot of things have happened in my private life recently that I thought we could review tonight.

And I said, ‘You know, God, you can do much better than me. You know, you might want to get Martin Scorsese, or, or Mike Nichols, or Spike Lee, or Sidney Lumet…’ I kept naming names, you know, and um, I said, ‘Look, I’ve given you 15 names of guys who are more talented than I am, and, and smarter and classier…’ And they said, ‘Yes, but they weren’t available.’

As the poet said, ‘Only God can make a tree’ – probably because it’s so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.

As we know, for centuries Rome regarded the Open Hot Turkey Sandwich as the height of licentiousness.

Basically I am a low-culture person. I prefer watching baseball with a beer and some meatballs.

Basically my wife was immature. I’d be at home in the bath and she’d come in and sink my boats.

Between the Pope and air conditioning, I’d choose air conditioning.

Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.

Can we actually ‘know’ the universe? My God, it’s hard enough finding your way around in Chinatown.

Comedy just pokes at problems, rarely confronts them squarely. Drama is like a plate of meat and potatoes, comedy is rather the dessert, a bit like meringue.

Don’t knock masturbation – it’s sex with someone I love.

Dying is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.

Eternity is really long, especially near the end.

For me, being famous didn’t help me that much. It helped a little. Warren Beatty once said to me many years ago, being a star is like being in a whorehouse with a credit card, and I never found that. For me, it was like being in a whorehouse with a credit card that had expired.

For some reason I’m more appreciated in France than I am back home. The subtitles must be incredibly good.

Harvard makes mistakes too, you know. Kissinger taught there.

Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.

He was so depressed, he tried to commit suicide by inhaling next to an Armenian. His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy.

Hollywood for the most part aimed at the lowest common denominator. It’s conceived in venality, it’s motivated by pandering to the public, by making a lot of money. People like Ingmar Bergman thought about life, and they had feelings, and they wanted to dramatize them and engage one in a dialogue. I felt I couldn’t easily be engaged by the nonsense that came out of Hollywood.

How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?

How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size? Human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun.

I always think it is a mistake to try and be young, because I feel the young people in the United States have not distinguished themselves. The young audience in the United States have not proven to me that they like good movies or good theatre. The films that are made for young people are not wonderful films, they are not thoughtful. They are these blockbusters with special effects. The comedies are dumb, full of toilet jokes, not sophisticated at all. And these are the things the young people embrace. I do not idolize the young.

I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.

I am two with nature.

I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it’s the government. I can bring stars, I’ve worked with terrific cameramen, but people still have a better chance of making their $150m films because they’re not interested in the kind of profits I can bring if I’m profitable.

I can’t express anger. That’s my problem. I internalize everything. I just grow a tumor instead.

I can’t imagine that the business should be run any other way than that the director has complete control of his films. My situation may be unique, but that doesn’t speak well for the business – it shouldn’t be unique, because the director is the one who has the vision and he’s the one who should put that vision onto film.

I can’t listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.

I do feel that in everyday life people on a great spectrum get away with crime all the time, ranging from genocide to just street crime. Most crimes do go unsolved, and people commit murders and ruin other people and do the worst things in the world, and, you know, there’s no one to penalize you if you don’t have a sense of conscience about it. There is an element in life of enormous, enormous injustice that we live with all the time. It’s just an ugly-but-true fact of life.

I do the movies just for myself like an institutionalized person who basket-weaves. Busy fingers are happy fingers. I don’t care about the films. I don’t care if they’re flushed down the toilet after I die.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, although I’m bringing along a change of underwear. I don’t have to ‘freedom-kiss’ my wife when what I really want to do is French-kiss her.

I don’t think my parents liked me. They put a live teddy bear in my crib. I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.

I failed to make the chess team because of my height.

I feel sex is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five, it’s fantastic.

I had a line in one of my movies – ‘Everyone knows the same truth.’ Our lives consist of how we choose to distort it. One person will distort it with a kind of wishful thinking like religion, someone else will distort it by thinking political solutions are going to do something, someone else will think a life of sensuality is going to do it, someone else will think art transcends. Art for me has always been the Catholicism of the intellectuals. There is no afterlife for the Catholics really, and there’s no afterlife for the arts. ‘Your painting lived on after you’ – well, that doesn’t really do it. That’s not what you want. Even if your painting does have some longevity, eventually that’s going to go. There won’t be any works of William Shakespeare or Ludwig van Beethoven, or any theatre to see them in, or air or light. I’ve always felt you’ve got to live your life within the context of this worst-case scenario. Which is true; the worst-case scenario is here.

I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers.

I have bad reflexes. I was once run over by a car being pushed by two guys.

I know it sounds horrible, but winning that Oscar for Annie Hall (1977) didn’t mean anything to me.

I never wanted movies to be an end. I wanted them to be a means so that I could have a decent life – meet attractive women, go out on dates, live decently. Not opulently, but with some security. I feel the same way now. A guy like Steven Spielberg will go live in the desert to make a movie, or Martin Scorsese will make a picture in India and set up camp and live there for four months. I mean, for me, if I’m not shooting in my neighborhood, it’s annoying. I have no commitment to my work in that sense. No dedication. I never write down to them. I always assume that they’re all as smart as I am… if not smarter.

I ran into Isosceles. He had a great idea for a new triangle!

I tended to place my wife under a pedestal.

I think being funny is not anyone’s first choice.

I think that people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.

I think there is too much wrong with the world to ever get too relaxed and happy. The more natural state, and the better one, I think, is one of some anxiety and tension over man’s plight in this mysterious universe.

I thought of that old joke: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well why don’t you turn him in?’ and the guy says, ‘I would, but I need the eggs.’ Well, I guess that’s pretty much now how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational and crazy and absurd, but I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.

I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

I want to tell you a terrific story about oral contraception. I asked this girl to sleep with me and she said ‘No.’

I was in analysis. I was suicidal. As a matter of fact, I would have killed myself, but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian and if you kill yourself they make you pay for the sessions you miss.

I was just a poor student. I had no interest in it. When I make a film the tacit contract with the audience is that I will give them some entertainment and not bore them. I have to do that. I just lay a message on them. Great filmmakers, like Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa or Federico Fellini, they’re very entertaining, their films are fun. Well, in college they never made it entertaining for me, they just bored me stiff.

I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I had smallpox. I was thrown out of NYU (New York University) for cheating on my Metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.

I wasn’t away. And I’m not back. Match Point (2005) was a film about luck, and it was a very lucky film for me. I did it the way I do all my pictures, and it just worked. I needed a rainy day, I got a rainy day. I needed sun, I got sun. Kate Winslet dropped out at the last moment because she wanted to be with her family, and Scarlett Johansson was available on two days’ notice. It’s like I couldn’t ruin this picture no matter how hard I tried. I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick. Not wounded. Dead. I’d call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.

If it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever. If my films don’t show a profit, I know I’m doing something right.

If my films make one more person miserable, I’ll feel I have done my job. If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans.

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.

I’m a practicing heterosexual, although bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.

I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.

I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens. I’m not really the heroic type. I was beat up by Quakers.

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy myself, but I didn’t.

I’m such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own.

I’m very proud of my gold pocket watch. My grandfather, on his deathbed, sold me this watch.

In Beverly Hills… they don’t throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows.

In my house I’m the boss, my wife is just the decision maker.

In the United States things have changed a lot, and it’s hard to make good small films now. There was a time in the 1950s when I wanted to be a playwright, because until that time movies, which mostly came out of Hollywood, were stupid and not interesting. Then we started to get wonderful European films, and American films started to grow up a little bit, and the industry became more fun to work in than the theatre. I loved it. But now it’s taken a turn in the other direction and studios are back in command and are not that interested in pictures that make only a little bit of money. When I was younger, every week we’d get a Federico Fellini or an Ingmar Bergman or a Jean-Luc Godard or Fran├žois Truffaut, but now you almost never get any of that. Filmmakers like myself have a hard time. The avaricious studios couldn’t care less about good films – if they get a good film they’re twice as happy, but money-making films are their goal. They only want these $100-million pictures that make $500 million. That’s why I’m happy to work in London, because I’m right back in the same kind of liberal creative attitude that I’m used to.

interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought – particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.

Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought- particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.

Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right.

It is impossible to experience one’s death objectively and still carry a tune.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one’s hat keeps blowing off.

It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better… while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.

It’s just gossip, you know. Gossip is the new pornography.

It’s true I had a lot of anxiety. I was afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light.

I’ve never been an intellectual but I have this look.

I’ve often said, the only thing standing between me and greatness is me Join the army, see the world, meet interesting people – and kill ’em.

Just don’t take any class where you have to read Beowulf.

Last night I discovered a new form of oral contraceptive. I asked a girl to go to bed with me and she said no.

Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.

Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are the cancer patients and the terminal cases… the miserable is everyone else. So, be thankful that you’re miserable.

Life is for the living.

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.

Love is the answer – but while you’re waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.

Man consists of two parts, his mind and his body, only the body has more fun.

Man was made in God’s image. Do you really think God has red hair and glasses?

Marriage is the death of hope.

Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all these great minds and in the end, none of them knows anything more about the big questions of life than I do … I read Socrates. This guy knocked off little Greek boys. What the Hell’s he got to teach me? And Nietzsche, with his theory of eternal recurrence. He said that the life we lived we’re going to live over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I’ll have to sit through the Ice Capades again. It’s not worth it. And Freud, another great pessimist. I was in analysis for years and nothing happened. My poor analyst got so frustrated, the guy finally put in a salad bar. Maybe the poets are right. Maybe love is the only answer.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

Most of life is tragic. You’re born, you don’t know why. You’re here, you don’t know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. The net result, the final count is, you lose – you don’t beat the house.

Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.

My brain: It’s my second favorite organ.

My brother beat me. My sister beat my brother. My father beat my sister, my brother, and me. My mother beat my father, my sister, my brother, and me. The neighbors beat our family. The family down the street beat the neighbors and our family.

My education was dismal. I went to a series of schools for mentally disturbed teachers.

My love life is terrible. The last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty.

My luck is getting worse and worse. Last night, for instance, I was mugged by a quaker.

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.

My relationship with Hollywood isn’t love-hate, it’s love-contempt. I’ve never had to suffer any of the indignities that one associates with the studio system. I’ve always been independent in New York by sheer good luck. But I have an affection for Hollywood because I’ve had so much pleasure from films that have come out of there. Not a whole lot of them, but a certain amount of them have been very meaningful to me.

Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.

Now is the time to strike. The Leader is at great handicap, he has no head or body!

Of course, I would love everybody to see my films. But I don’t care enough ever to do anything about it. I would never change a word or make a movie that I thought they would like. I really don’t care if they come or not. If they don’t want to come, then they don’t; if they do come, then great. Do I want to do what I do uncompromisingly, and would I love it if a big audience came? Yes, that would be very nice. I’ve never done anything to attract an audience, though I always get accused of it over the years.

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily as lying down.

Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies.

Regarding love… what can you say? It’s not the quantity of your sexual relations that counts. It’s the quality. On the other hand if the quantity drops below once every eight months, I would definitely look into it. Remember, if you smoke after sex you’re doing it too fast.

Right now it’s only a notion, but I think I can get the money to make it into a concept, and later turn it into an idea.

Sex alleviates tension. Love causes it.

Sex and death are two things that come but once in my lifetime, but at least after death you’re not nauseous.

Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it’s a pretty good empty experience.

She’s 17. I’m 42 and she’s 17. I’m older than her father, can you believe that? I’m dating a girl, wherein, I can beat up her father.

Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ but not in those words.

Stanley Kubrick was a great artist. I say this all the time and people think I’m being facetious. I’m not. Kubrick was a guy who obsessed over details and did 100 takes, and you know, I don’t feel that way. If I’m shooting a film and it’s 6 o’clock at night and I’ve got a take, and I think I might be able to get a better take if I stayed, but the Knicks tipoff is at 7:30, then that’s it. The crews love working on my movies because they know they’ll be home by 6.

Students achieving Oneness will move on to Twoness.

Talent is luck. The important thing in life is courage.

The biggest flaw in being self-taught is there are gaps. You self-teach yourself something and you think you know something fairly well, but then there are gaps a university teacher would have taught you as part of a mandatory program. I would probably have been better off if I’d got a better general education, but I was just so bored.

The directors that have personal, emotional feelings for me are Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, and I’m sure there has been some influence but never a direct one. I never set out to try and do anything like them. But, you know, when you listen to a jazz musician like Charlie Parker for years and you love it, then you start to play an instrument, you automatically play like that at first, then you branch off with your own things. The influence is there, it’s in your blood.

The government is unresponsive to the needs of the little man. Under 5’7′, it is impossible to get your congressman on the phone.

The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter… if it turns out that there is a God, I don’t think that he is evil. I think that the worst thing you could say is that he is, basically, an under-achiever.

The key is, to not think of death as an end, but as more of a very effective way to cut down on your expenses.

The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won’t get much sleep.

The sensibility of the film-maker infuses the project so people see a picture like Annie Hall and everyone thinks it’s so autobiographical. But I was not from Coney Island, I was not born under a Ferris wheel, my father never worked at a place that had bumper cars, that’s not how I met Diane Keaton, and that’s not how we broke up. Of course, there’s that character who’s always beleaguered and harassed. Certain things are autobiographical, certain feelings, even occasionally an incident, but overwhelmingly they’re totally made up, completely fabricated.

The study of economy usually shows us that the best time for purchase was last year.

The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.

The two biggest myths about me are that I’m an intellectual, because I wear these glasses, and that I’m an artist because my films lose money. Those two myths have been prevalent for many years.

There are two types of people in this world, good and bad. The good sleep better, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?

There was no ripple professionally for me at all when I was in the papers with my custody stuff. I made my films, I worked in the streets of New York, I played jazz every Monday night, I put a play on. Everything professionally went just the same. There were no repercussions. There was white-hot interest for a while, like with all things like that, and then it became uninteresting to people.

There’s an old joke… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’ Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness – and it’s all over much too quickly.

This is so antiseptic. It’s empty. Why do you think this is funny? You’re going by audience reaction? This is an audience that’s raised on television, their standards have been systematically lowered over the years. These guys sit in front of their sets and the gamma rays eat the white cells of their brains out!

This year I’m a star, but what will I be next year? A black hole?

Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.

To a man standing on the shore, time passes quicker than to a man on a boat – especially if the man on the boat is with his wife.

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.

To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition.

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.

What a world. It could be so wonderful if it wasn’t for certain people. What are you telling me, that you’re, you’re, you’re gonna leave Emily, is this true? And, and run away with the, the, the winner of the Zelda Fitzgerald emotional maturity award?

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.

What if nothing exists and we’re all in somebody’s dream? Or what’s worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists?

When I was a kid, movies from Hollywood seemed very glamorous, but when you look back at them as a young man, you can see out of the thousands of films that came out of Hollywood there were really very few good ones statistically, and those few that were good were made in spite of the studios. I saw European films as a young man and they were very much better. There’s no comparison.

When I was in my early twenties, I knew a man who has since died, who was older than me and also very crazy. He’d been in a straitjacket and institutionalized, and I found him very brilliant. When I would speak to him about writing, about life, art, women, he was very, very cogent – but he couldn’t lead his own life, he just couldn’t manage.

When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room.

When we played softball, I’d steal second base, feel guilty and go back. Where did you go to finishing school? On a pirate ship?

Where I grew up… in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide… you know, everyone was too unhappy.

Who bothers to cook TV dinners? I suck them frozen.

Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?

Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.

With my complexion I don’t tan, I stroke.

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.

You know a lot of geniuses, y’know. You should meet some stupid people once in a while, y’know, you could learn something.

You know I can tolerate anybody’s orphans but my own.

You think the President of the United States wants to fuck every woman he meets?… Well, bad example.