[Ads-l] "A comic does funny things; a comedian does things funny"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 27 06:39:43 UTC 2021

Resurrecting a thread from January 2020.
Here is a 1915 citation that draws a distinction between doing "things
funny" and doing "funny things". Unfortunately, the author of the
article is not identified.

[ref] 1915 December 2, The Huntington Press, 'White Elephant', Home
Talent Play Draws Big Crowd, Quote Page 8, Column 1, Huntington,
Indiana. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
Dwight Fanning made an ideal travelling salesman and won laugh after
laugh more through his ability to do things funny rather than the
funny things he did. He was most excellent all the way through the
[End excerpt]


On Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 3:32 PM Ben Yagoda <byagoda at udel.edu> wrote:
> Question for Garson: On Facebook, I just encountered a quote attributed to Buster Keaton: “A comedian things does funny things. A good comedian does things funny.” I was skeptical of the attribution (partly because of the flat adverb) but when I Googled the quote I found lots of Keaton attributions. But Wikipedia quoted a variant (citing Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, 1988) and attributed it to Ed Wynn: "A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny.”
> That jogged my memory that when I encountered the quote years ago the contrast was indeed comic/comedian instead of comedian/good comedian.
> Anyway, Garson, I’d appreciate it if you sleuth out this quote.
> Ben
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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