Stand-up philosophy

By Peter Gerstenzang
Updated October 11, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

What is it with comics and their books? They can’t be writing them for the fame. Fortune probably has something to do with it, given their six- and seven-figure advances. Perhaps there’s a deeper motive: It may sound funny, but these men and women also seem to want to show that beneath the jokey exterior, there’s a philosopher panting to get out.

Comic Jerry Seinfeld
Book SeinLanguage
Deep Quote ”Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in and no one can stopit….I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is…you didn’t throw up.”
Philosophical Predecessor Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea: ”I dropped to a seat, I no longer knew where I was; I saw the colours spin slowly around me, I wanted to vomit.”

Comic Ellen DeGeneres
Book My Point… And I Do Have One
Deep Quote ”How did I get to be me?… Who I am now is what I was then, plus all the stuff in between, minus a few years during the seventies.”
Philosophical Predecessor Georg Hegel, Preliminary Notion: ”By the term ‘I’ I mean myself, a single and altogether determinate person.”

Comic Roseanne
Book My Life as a Woman
Deep Quote ”If you don’t have a lot of money, you think people who do are luckier and happier than you are.”
Philosophical Predecessor Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: ”Labor… produces palaces, but hovels for the worker.”

Comic Paul Reiser
Book Couplehood
Deep Quote ”Theoretically, marriage is all about Two people becoming as One. But in the real world…you ain’t One. You’re Two.”
Philosophical Predecessor Erich Fromm, Man for Himself: ”Man is…separated from the world; not being able to stand…separation, he…seek[s]…oneness.”

Comic Brett Butler
Book Knee Deep in Paradise
Deep Quote ”I began to worry about everything…. I had the feeling that something very large that didn’t love me was after us…”
Philosophical Predecessor Soren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Dread: ”Though dread is afraid, yet it maintains a sly intercourse with its object, cannot look away from it…”