JOHN LAHR QUOTES

American theatre critic (1941- )

Society drives people crazy with lust and calls it advertising.

JOHN LAHR, The Guardian, Aug. 1989

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Tags: advertising


We live in a time of terror, and contrary to what we see on television and allow ourselves to believe, the real goal of terror is not to kill people but to kill thought; to so demoralize a society that it implodes from within.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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Tags: terrorism


Criticism is a life without risk.

JOHN LAHR, Light Fantastic

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Most of the people dishing out judgment have no working experience of the theatre, have not written a professional play, a sketch, or even a joke; have never worked in a theatre, taken an acting class, or published any extended piece of work. They are creative virgins; everything they know about theatre is book-learned and second-hand.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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The history of theatre is the history of first nights.

JOHN LAHR, Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton

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Identity is memory; when memory disappears, the self dissolves and love with it.

JOHN LAHR, The New Yorker, 2007

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The pigeons are shitting on George M. Cohan. I shoo them off. They fly up and perch on his hat. Cohan would've never given his regards to Broadway if he saw how dirty they kept his statue in Duffy Square. New Yorkers walk right by. Nobody cares.

JOHN LAHR, The Autograph Hound: A Novel

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His life was one long extravaganza, like living inside a Faberge egg.

JOHN LAHR, attributed, The Mammoth Book of Great British Humour

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Tags: life


Questions about political theatre always overlook America's most powerful and effective political theatre, which is always thriving: the American musical. The politics is conservative but, to my mind, effective and insidious.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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Frivolity is the species' refusal to suffer.

JOHN LAHR, Vaudeville, PBS television, Nov. 26, 1997

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The only thing I get from the theatre is a sore arse.

JOHN LAHR, Diary of a Somebody

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Any play that makes an audience think out of the box, that makes connections to life and names our pain and by doing so makes our pain subject to thinking and the process of understanding, is doing something inherently political. By promoting understanding, by putting experience in context, by making connections between the normal and the rational, theatre is an act of anti-terrorism. It stimulates courage and a survival spirit. In that sense of political, there are a lot of serious plays doing their work in the world.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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Tags: theatre


I know in an existential sense that life can change on a dime ... something has instantly and inexorably changed in American life.

JOHN LAHR, on the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Slate, Sep. 11, 2001

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A cruel critic has never made anything; his glibness is a way of inflicting his emptiness on others.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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Momentum was part of the exhilaration and the exhaustion of the twentieth century which Coward decoded for the British but borrowed wholesale from the Americans.

JOHN LAHR, The New Yorker, Sep. 9, 1996

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Entertainment is not politically neutral.

JOHN LAHR, Coward the Playwright

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First and foremost, I'd say my father, Bert Lahr ... gave me a love of theatre--its kinetic and emotional potential and its raffish backstage fun--and also set an artistic example of the importance of corrupting an audience with pleasure.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, Jan. 23, 2009

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Because of the sexual politics of previous eras, the comediennes to whom Roseanne [Barr] sees herself linked--Mae West, Judy Holliday, Lucille Ball--got their way by cunning indirection. But Roseanne prefers the head butt to the bon mot. She can rumble.

JOHN LAHR, Show and Tell: New Yorker Profiles

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Tags: Roseanne Barr