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Collection of Tom Lehrer quotes and sayings on books, politics, satire, science, songs, writing etc.

50 Noteworthy Quotes By Tom Lehrer

Quick Facts

Famous As: American musician

Born On: April 9, 1928

Born In: New York, Manhattan

Thomas Andrew Lehrer or ‘Tom’ Lehrer is an American satirist, singer, songwriter and mathematician. He is renowned for his terse and vigorously expressive comical tracks he recorded during the 50s and 60s. He was also known for his great piano skills. One of the greatest compositions from Lehrer has to be ‘The Elements’ where he slots the name of chemical elements to the tune of Major-General's song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. His works largely dealt with parodies of famous tracks. His was also highlighted political and social issues prevalent in the country while inculcating dark humor into his subjects. Despite the criticism and controversies he attracted due to the references made on his subjects, it did not diminish the popularity of these tracks. After his retirement from public performance, he was largely dedicated towards teaching mathematics and music theatre at University of California, Santa Cruz. Here some of the famous quotes from Tom Lehrer.

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.

Tom Lehrer

It is sobering to consider that when Mozart was my age he had already been dead for a year.

Tom Lehrer

Life is like a sewer - you get out of it what you put into it.

Tom Lehrer

I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!

Tom Lehrer

On my income tax 1040 it says 'Check this box if you are blind.' I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.

Tom Lehrer

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.

Tom Lehrer

If after hearing my songs just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend or perhaps to strike a loved one it will all have been worth the while.

Tom Lehrer

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.

Tom Lehrer

The Army has carried the American ... ideal to its logical conclusion. Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability.

Tom Lehrer

If the hoods don't get you, the monoxide will.

Tom Lehrer

I like Jon Stewart. He's not as obnoxious as Dennis Miller, whom I really can't stand.

Tom Lehrer

I went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.

Tom Lehrer

Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tom Lehrer

The people who were in college in the '50s were my first real audience, and their kids, the people who found my records in the cabinet during their 'Mad 'magazine years picked me up also.

Tom Lehrer

I loved high school, but I wouldn't want to do it again.

Tom Lehrer

I thought about majoring in Math, Chemistry and English, but Math had the fewest requirements, so I went with it. I knew I wanted to teach, and Math was my field, so I studied Math.

Tom Lehrer

When you're in a public profession like I was, and you stop doing it like I did, people think you're either crazy or dead.

Tom Lehrer

I was immersed in popular songs of the time, of the '30s and '40s. I was writing songs, making fun of the attitudes of those songs, in the musical style of the songs themselves; love songs, folk songs, marches, football.

Tom Lehrer

I'm not interested in promoting myself or revealing to total strangers anything about me. That's not my job.

Tom Lehrer

When I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them, but you can't say 'girl.'

Tom Lehrer

The real issues I don't think most people touch. The Clinton jokes are all about Monica Lewinsky and all that stuff and not about the important things, like the fact that he wouldn't ban landmines.

Tom Lehrer

I didn't feel the need for anonymous affection, for people in the dark applauding. To me, it would be like writing a novel and then getting up every night and reading your novel.

Tom Lehrer

I wasn't really a performer by temperament.

Tom Lehrer

It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.

Tom Lehrer

When you get to fifty-two food becomes more important than sex.

Tom Lehrer

An actress must never lose her ego - without it she has no talent.

Tom Lehrer

I'm not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn't figure out what sort of song I would write. That's the problem: I don't want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporise them.

Tom Lehrer

In my youth there were words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can't say 'girl.'

Tom Lehrer

Irreverence is easy - what's hard is wit.

Tom Lehrer

The Army has carried the American ideal to its logical conclusion. Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability.

Tom Lehrer

San Francisco is a city of twenty-something millionaire white kids named Doug.

Tom Lehrer

Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal, if you don't use your thumbs.

Tom Lehrer

Laughter is involuntary. If it's funny you laugh.

Tom Lehrer

Apart from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Tom Lehrer

You can't be satirical and not be offensive to somebody.

Tom Lehrer

If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend or, perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.

Tom Lehrer

Political satire became obsolete when they awarded Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tom Lehrer

I feel that if a person has problems communicating the very least he can do is to shut up.

Tom Lehrer

If a person feels he can't communicate, the least he can do is shut up about it.

Tom Lehrer

I always prided myself on at least trying to be literate and use the right words, and if the audience didn't get it, then they could go home and look it up.

Tom Lehrer

There's something mathematically satisfying about music: notes fit together and harmony and all that. And mathematics has to do with abstractions and making connections.

Tom Lehrer

Life is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

Tom Lehrer

I have always found it interesting... that there are people who regard copyright infringement as a form of flattery.

Tom Lehrer

Be prepared, and be careful not to do your good deeds when there's no one watching you.

Tom Lehrer

My last public performance for money was in 1967. For free, it was 1972, with the exception of two little one-shot, one-song things. But that's just for friends, out of friendship for the people involved, and also because it was fun.

Tom Lehrer

One of the things I'm proudest of is, on my record 'That Was the Year that Was' in 1965, I made a joke about spending $20 billion sending some clown to the moon. I was against the manned space program then, and I'm even more against it now, that whole waste of money.

Tom Lehrer

Eddie Izzard is wonderful, I think, but I've only seen that one HBO special he did. He's one of the few people who talk about stuff other than girlfriends and relationships and flatulence and genitalia. There are very few of them who actually talk about real stuff.

Tom Lehrer

I stopped performing because I don't have the temperament of a performer. You have to want to do the same thing over and over again. Once I got it right, I didn't want to do it again. I always use the analogy of a novelist who has to read his novel in public night after night. I just didn't want to do it.

Tom Lehrer

I figure I wrote 37 songs in 20 years, and that's not exactly a full-time job. It wasn't that I was writing and writing and writing and quit. Every now and then I wrote something, and every now and then I didn't. The second just outnumbered the first.

Tom Lehrer

I didn't feel the need for anonymous affection, for people in the dark applauding. To me, it would be like writing a novel and then getting up every night and reading your novel. Everything I did is on the record and, if you want to hear it, just listen to the record.

Tom Lehrer