There seems to be no lengths to which humorless people will not go to analyze humor. It seems to worry them.

Robert Benchley (1889–1945), U.S. writer, humorist 



I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.

Steven Wright



Every American, to the last man, lays claim to a “sense” of humor and guards it as his most significant spiritual trait, yet rejects humor as a contaminating element wherever found. America is a nation of comics and comedians; nevertheless, humor has no stature and is accepted only after the death of the perpetrator.

E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White (1899–1985), U.S. author, editor


Nonprofits seem to think that the importance of a decision is directly proportional to the number of people involved.

Anonymous CEO (of a prominent for-profit company who sells products to museums)

One time I went to a museum where all the work in the museum had been done by children. They had all the paintings up on refrigerators.

Steven Wright


There’s a helluva distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.

Dorothy Parker (1893–1967), U.S. humor writer.



Sometimes nonprofit directors don't go ahead with a good idea for fear of hurting the feelings of those with bad ideas.

Anonymous (one of the smartest museum professionals I know...)


You said that my manner in that book was not serious enough—that I made people laugh in my most earnest moments. But why should I not? Why should humor and laughter be excommunicated? Suppose the world were only one of God’s jokes, would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one?

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Anglo-Irish playwright, critic



The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it.

Umberto Eco (b. 1932), Italian semiologist, novelist

I like to go to art museums and name the untitled paintings . . . Boy With Pail . . . Kitten On Fire.

Steven Wright


I am often still surprised after 38 years to find just how serious nonprofit professionals can be.  The front lines, operations folks, or many supervisors can be found making the best of their days (I'm generalizing here) and often do so with great humor.  It's the "Professionals" that sometimes take their mission SO seriously that they forget they have a wonderful calling to serve humanity, whether by helping those in need or leading a museum of wonder. It is with gratitude for having worked almost four decades in and with nonprofits that I offer these observations.

D. Neil Bremer