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

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Tue Apr 27 14:03:16 UTC 2021

Interestingly, the OED doesn’t have en entry for adverb “funny” meaning humorously (as in the quote), only for peculiarly (as in “He talked funny”). There is an entry for “funnily” meaning humorously (as well as peculiarly or surprisingly).


> On Apr 27, 2021, at 2:39 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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]
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/40250363/
> [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
> show.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> 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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