Dick Cavett Quotes

Richard Alva “Dick” Cavett

Born: 19 November 1936, Gibbon, Nebraska

Cavett’s parents, both school teachers, had moved three times by the time he started kindergarten at Grand Island, then three years later they moved to Lincoln, where there is now an elementary school named after them. Dick was producing a live Saturday-morning radio show in the eighth grade, before leaving for Yale he was doing magic shows on stage. He acted and produced in radio drama at Yale, changed his major from English to Drama in his senior year, and after graduation played summer stock in Massachusetts before moving to New York. There he had a string of low-level jobs including copy boy at Time, anything that would give him the chance to hang around stage doors and meet stars. He read a newspaper item that said Jack Paar had a constant search for material for his opening monologue on The Tonight Show, so he wrote some jokes, put them in a Time envelope, and arranged to run into Paar in a hallway of the RCA Building. When he was in the studio audience that night he heard his own material worked into the monologue, and Paar suggested he send more, then hired him as talent coordinator but became a writer. His modest approach allowed him to develop lasting friendships with a number of his show-business idols, including Johnny Carson who replaced Paar and kept Cavett on as a writer. Starting on ABC in 1968, Cavett had his own talk show, serving as the “thinking man’s talk show” but running third behind Carson and Merv Griffin. In 1971, the pioneer of organic gardening Jerome Rodale was interviewed on the show and seemed to have dozed off after telling Cavett that he expected to live to 100, but he had actually died of a heart attack on the set, the episode was not broadcast. Over the next thirty years, Cavett’s show moved to CBS, PBS, USA, back to ABC, and CNBC. He currently is writing a blog for the New York Times. He has suffered from depression since his freshman year at Yale, generally treated successfully with drugs and one session of electrocompulsive therapy, which he describes as “miraculous”, but his syndicated radio show was cancelled after only two weeks in 1997 when a major depressive episode caused him to simply not show up for taping.

Dick Cavett quotes:

An inherited nasty temper has only flared on the air a few times, but much more frequently in “real life”. So far I have managed to escape having my salient features re-arranged.
    Dick Cavett – “Why, I Oughta … and I Did” on his New York Times blog (8 January 2010)

Anyone who steals another comic’s material should be sentenced for life to reading Aristophanes to the O.J. jury.
    Dick Cavett

As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.
    Dick Cavett

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, attending anything that threatened a forced viewing of a lot of new and largely unknown standup comics would be low on my list of musts; down there between dedicating a statue of Spiro Agnew and a street sale of macramé.
    Dick Cavett – “What’s So Funny About Nebraska” on his New York Times blog (25 July 2008)

Can you picture yourself at the age 60 doing what you do now?
    Dick Cavett

Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself.
    Dick Cavett

I don’t think anyone ever gets over the surprise of how differently one audience’s reaction is from another.
    Dick Cavett

I went to a Chinese-German restaurant. The food is great, but an hour later you’re hungry for power.
    Dick Cavett – Standup line at the Bitter End, Greenwich Village, New York (1964)

I’m perplexed when people adopt the modish abbreviation “Ms.”, which doesn’t abbreviate anything except common sense.
    Dick Cavett

If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.
    Dick Cavett

It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.
    Dick Cavett

Show people tend to treat their finances like their dentistry. They assume the man handling it knows what he is doing.
    Dick Cavett

Somehow I don’t think the caviar was the finest — I don’t know much about caviar, but I do know you’re not supposed to get pictures of ballplayers with it.
    Dick Cavett – Standup line at the Bitter End, Greenwich Village, New York (1964)

The idea that hunting is one against one is ludicrous. It’s one animal versus the hunter, the manufacturer of the rifle, the bullet maker, the designer and manufacturer of the telescopic sight, the auto manufacturer who made the car the hunter got to the edge of the wild in, the maker of his waterproof shoes, the various manufacturers of his mittens, glasses, overcoat—and that’s only the beginning of the list. The “sportsman” who shoots an animal should then make a speech, like the actor who wins an Oscar does, thanking the multitudes behind the scenes who made this “victory” possible.
    Dick Cavett

There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?
    Dick Cavett

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