TOP 10 Quotes of David Mamet – Thursday’s Top Ten List

Created by Matthew J. Goldberg,

Celebrated playwright, essayist and screenwriter David Mamet turns 65 years old tomorrow, and while his voice as a writer is often that of the unsentimental streetwise man with an appreciation for the con artist, hopefully he wouldn’t mind hearing a chorus or two of the saccharine Birthday Song.

In today’s piece, we feature 10 of his greatest quotes, taken from outside his plays, novels and screenplays. Before sharing some of Mamet’s words, today and tomorrow both signal joyous days for quite a few Jewish celebrities, as defined by pop culture.

So, Happy Birthday (today) to comedians Garry Shandling and Howie Mandel—well, the latter used to be funny—and Ethan Coen, responsible with brother Joel for films like Fargo and The Big Lebowski. The baseball world also celebrates with ageless Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully and all-time great (and healing) closer Mariano Rivera.

Tomorrow, in addition to late “all-timers” such as Bo Jackson, Mark Twain and Winston Churchill, Jewish celebs due to blow out candles include Ben Stiller, Mandy Patinkin and Mamet.

David Mamet is a Chicago native who has won a Pulitzer Prize, and received both Tony and Oscar nominations. He has also written several novels and essays that center upon his deep connections to Judaism, including Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

His most essential work, perhaps, has been Glengarry Glen Ross, which was rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize and Tony nomination in 1984 and sparkled on the silver screen in 1992. Oddly enough, that memorable screenplay did not garner an Academy Award nomination, although his name did get announced in 1983 for The Verdict and again in 1988 for Wag the Dog.

With such an amazing career that is still going strong, who am I to decide what his Top 10 Quotes are. Well, I am the Jewish Top 10 guy and while I don’t drink coffee, these lists are, as Mamet might say, for closers. One note: While I would love to pull quotes from films such as Glengarry Glen Ross, these are taken from his personal quotes—with a special assist from

10 –

Take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period and a better production.

9 – 

There’s no such thing as talent; you just have to work hard enough.

8 –

Films have degenerated to their original operation as carnival amusement—they offer not drama but thrills.

7 –

I grew up in a tough neighborhood and we used to say you can get further with a kind word and a gun than just a kind word.

6 –

We respond to a drama to that extent to which it corresponds to our dreamlife.

5 –

There’s no such thing as character development; all there is is action.

4 –

The surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle, losing is half the battle. Let’s think about what’s the whole battle.

3 –

We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police, but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder “censorship”, we call it “concern for commercial viability.”

2 –

In a world we find terrifying, we ratify that which doesn’t threaten us.

1 –

I’ve always been more comfortable sinking while clutching a good theory than swimming with an ugly fact.

Well, on that idealistic note, this concludes my list of the Top 10 Quotes related to Thanksgiving. As always, feel free to share and to comment below. If you have a suggestion for any future lists, please also comment below or send me an email.

Matthew J. (call him Matt) Goldberg will be presenting a Jewish-style Top Ten list every Thursday on this site. For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit, or contact him via email. His new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”) can be found here.

Filed Under: FeaturedHumorTop Ten Lists


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Matthew J. Goldberg About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.