Neil Simon Quotes From Plays And Writing Are Funny And Inspirational

Here is a selection of Neil Simon quotes from plays and writing taken from various sources.

Each of these quote comes with a link to its original source.

In other words, all the quotes are definitely authentic.

The King of comedy playwrights, Neil Simon wrote more than 30 plays and almost the same number of movie screenplays; mostly adaptations of his plays.

Neil Simon’s name was synonymous with Broadway comedy and commercial success in the theater for decades.

Neil Simon quotes from plays and writingHe had more than 30 plays mounted on Broadway, including four that ran simultaneously in 1966: “Sweet Charity,” “The Star-Spangled Girl,” “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

This iconic Broadway legend, Neil Simon helped redefine popular American humor, mainly about the frictions of urban living and the agonizing conflicts of family intimacy.

He received four Oscar nominations and 17 Tony nominations.

So far, he won three Tony Awards for Best Play: “The Odd Couple”, “Biloxi Blues” and “Lost In Yonkers”.

Mr. Simon also won a Pulitzer Prize for drama with “Lost in Yonkers” in 1991.

It is true what Clive Barnes, theater critic for The New York Times, wrote in the introduction of a book:

“Neil Simon is destined to remain rich, successful and underrated.”

(The Collected Plays Of Neil Simon, Volume 2, Plume: Reissue Edition, 1986, Introduction; p.8)

On August 26, 2018, Broadway master of comedy, Neil Simon died at the age of 91, due to complications of pneumonia.

Neil Simon Quotes From Plays And Writing

Now, let’s pull back the curtain, and check out my selected authentic Neil Simon quotes with full citations.

Neil Simon Quotes On Writing


“…I always found the absurdity of how we live our lives, I always looked for the pain when I wrote about it.” – Neil Simon

(Rewrites A Memoir By Neil Simon, Simon and Schuster, 2012, Ch. 6. Little Caesar, P. 126)


“…whether you are writing for the films or the stage, or whether you are writing a little poem for yourself – you still have to sit down at a typewriter and write it.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon: A Casebook Edited By Gary Konas, An Interview With Neil Simon By Glenn Loney, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997, On Location In Central Park, Shooting The Out-Of-Towners, 14 May, 1969, P. 205)


“The more you write, the more you learn.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon: A Casebook Edited By Gary Konas, An Interview With Neil Simon By Glenn Loney, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997, On Location In Central Park, Shooting The Out-Of-Towners, 14 May, 1969, P. 209)


“…”I don’t do it just to evoke a laugh from an audience. I do it also to show them how absurdly we all live our lives.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon: A Casebook Edited By Gary Konas, An Interview With Neil Simon By Glenn Loney, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997, On Location In Central Park, Shooting The Out-Of-Towners, 14 May, 1969, P. 212)


“Comedy writing to me is a defense mechanism; I can’t bear to see life as gloomy as it really is. I approach plays and life by laughing at the insanity of it all.” – Neil Simon

(Conversations With Neil Simon, Edited By Jackson R. Bryer, Ben Siegel, Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2019, Life For Simon – Not That Simple By Joan Barthel, New York Times, February 25, 1968 )

(The quote is also found here.)


“…a writer without confidence is like a metaphor without something to compare itself to.” – Neil Simon

(Rewrites A Memoir By Neil Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2012, Ch. 6. Little Caesar, P. 105)

(The quote is also found in: Neil Simon’s Memoirs: Rewrite And The Play Goes On By Neil Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2016, Rewrites, 6. Little Caesar, P. 93)


“Everyone thinks they can write a play; you just write down what happened to you. But the art of it is drawing from all the moments of your life.” – Neil Simon

(From Neil Simon: A New Film, A New Play By Samuel G. Freedman, The York Times, March 24, 1985)


“…all the success has demeaned me in a way. Critically, the thinking seems to be that if you write too many hits, they can’t be that good.” – Neil Simon

(The Last Of The Red Hot Playwrights By David Richards, The New York Times Magazine, February 17, 1991)


Money brings some happiness. But after a certain point, it just brings more money.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon: Up From Success By Paul D. Zimmerman, Newsweek, 2 February 1970, P. 55)


“If you can go through life without ever experiencing pain you probably haven’t been born yet. And if you’ve gone through pain and think you know exactly why, you haven’t examined all the options.” – Neil Simon

(The Play Goes On: A Memoir By Neil Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2011)


“It was the lack of belief in myself. I said, This isn’t good enough. It’s not right. That doesn’t mean I believed I could make it better, but I felt I had to try.” – Neil Simon

(Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives By Lawrence Grobel, Da Capo Press, 2001, Neil Simon, Ssshh, He’s Writing, P. 384)


“I’ve got infinitely more plays in the drawer than have seen the lights of the stage.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon, The Art Of Theater No. 10 Interviewed By James Lipton, The Paris Review, Issue 125, Winter 1992)


“Behavior is absolutely the most interesting thing I can write about. You put that behavior in conflict and you’re in business.” – Neil Simon

(Neil Simon, The Art Of Theater No. 10 Interviewed By James Lipton, The Paris Review, Issue 125, Winter 1992)


“I find that the writing of a memoir has two functions. One is to pass on, as much as you’re willing to tell, the facts and deeds of your life to those who might be a all interested. The other function is to discover a truth about yourself that you never had either the time or the courage to face before.” – Neil Simon

(The Play Goes On: A Memoir By Neil Simon, Simon and Schuster, 2011)

(The quote is also found in: Neil Simon’s Memoirs: Rewrite And he Play Goes on By Neil Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2016, The Play Goes on, 20. Ireland, Santa Fe And Oblivion, P. 489)


“In a sense, everything you write is autobiographical because it is going through your brain, so it comes out like litmus paper, it always catches some of who you are.” – Neil Simon

(Endangered Species: Writers Talk about Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives Edited By Lawrence Grobel, Da Capo Press, 2001, P. 395)


“Writers feel like a middleman, standing with pen in hand over the page. A force greater than me stands above telling me what to write. That may sound romantic, but that’s how it feels.” – Neil Simon

(Don’t stop the show, Interviewed By Charles Flowers, BookPage: America’s Book Review, October 1999)


Writing is an escape from a world that crowds me…I like being alone in a room. It’s almost a form of meditation – an investigation of my own life.” – Neil Simon

(Why Neil Simon Cannot Slow Down By John Corry, The New York Times, April 5, 1981)


“I don’t think anyone gets writer’s block. I think fear takes over.” – Neil Simon

(Why Neil Simon Cannot Slow Down By John Corry, The New York Times, April 5, 1981)


“I don’t think I could exist without writing.” – Neil Simon

(Why Neil Simon Cannot Slow Down By John Corry, The New York Times, April 5, 1981)


“I don’t mind criticism. The idea is to read it or listen to it and then try to learn from it. All that I want is the mandate to keep on doing what I’m doing.” – Neil Simon

(Why Neil Simon Cannot Slow Down By John Corry, The New York Times, April 5, 1981)


Neil Simon Quotes From Plays


“Her windows are so filthy, I thought she had black curtains hanging inside.” – Neil Simon

(Brighton Beach Memoirs By Neil Simon, Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 1986, Act One, P. 9)

(The quote is also found here.)


“Remember what Momma use to tell us. Stay on your own side of the street. That’s what they have gutters for.” – Neil Simon

(Brighton Beach Memoirs By Neil Simon, Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 1986, Act One, P. 10)

(The last part of the quote is here.)

(The quote is also found here.)


“I love living, I have some problems with my life, but living is the best thing they’ve come up with so far.” – Neil Simon

(Last Of The Red Hot Lovers By Neil Simon, Random House, 1970, P. 84)

(The quote is also found in: The Collected Plays Of Neil Simon: Come Blow Your Horn. Barefoot In The Park. The Odd Couple. The star-Spangled Girl. Promises, Promises. Plaza Suite. Last Of The Red Hot Lovers, Plume, 1986, Last Of The Red Hot Lovers, P. 644)


“One should never underestimate the stimulation of eccentricity.” – Neil Simon

(Biloxi Blues: A New Comedy By Neil Simon, Samuel French, 1986, P. 83)

(The quote is also found in: Biloxi Blues (1988) Movie Script)


“I got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches… It’s either very new cheese or very old meat.” – Neil Simon

(The Odd Couple By Neil Simon, Random House, 1966, P. 8)

(The last part of the quote is here.)

(The quote is also found in: Odd Couple, The (1968) Movie Script)


“Never have so many given so much for so long for so little for so few for so seldom.” – Neil Simon

(Laughter On The 23rd Floor By Neil Simon, Random House Publishing Group, 1995, P. 40)

(The quote is also found in: The Collected Plays Of Neil Simon, Volume IV, With An Introduction By Neil Simon, Simon & Schuster, 1998, Laughter On The 23rd Floor, P. 255)


“Once you start compromising your thoughts, you’re a candidate for mediocrity.” – Neil Simon

(Biloxi Blues By Neil Simon, Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 1988, P. 78)

(The quote is also found in: Biloxi Blues (1988) Movie Script.)


Note: Here are free scripts from Neil Simon’s plays and movies:

Brighton Beach Memoirs

The Odd Couples

Good Doctor

Rumors

Laughter On The 23rd Floor

Biloxi Blues

Last of the Red Hot Lovers

Murder By Death” (Transcript)

Singing Detective” (Transcript)

Barefoot In The Park” (Transcript)

Lost In Yonkers” (Transcript)

The Goodbye Girl” (Transcript)

Seems Like Old Times” (Transcript)

The Prisoner Of Second Avenue” (Transcript)

Sweet Charity” (Transcript)

Barefoot in the Park” (Transcript)

California Suite” (Transcript)

The Marrying Man” (Transcript)

The Heartbreak Kid” (Transcript)