Many thanks to the editors at BigThink.com and to Patrick Allan at LifeHacker.com for sharing this terrific story and quote from Chuck Jones!
Chuck Jones (1912-2002) was an American animator, cartoonist, and director of animated films. His most famous work consisted of numerous Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts for Warner Brothers featuring characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, and others. Jones was nominated for eight Oscars, won three, and was awarded an honorary statuette in 1996. Robin Williams called Jones “the Orson Welles of cartoons.”
Many luminaries of humor peddle varying definitions of comedy. Jones’ stance was that comedians are funny people who do funny things against a backdrop of relative normality.
“A comedian is not a person who opens a funny door — he’s the person who opens a door funny.” [Wikiquote]
Source: “The Art of Chuck Jones: John Lewell Interviews the Veteran Hollywood Animator ,” in Animation – Art and Industry, ed. Maureen Furniss (John Libby Publishing Ltd., 2009), 134.
From Patrick Allan writing at LifeHacker.com:
Having a good sense of humor can make you more charismatic and become the type of person people like to be around. Being funny isn’t always easy, however, and legendary animator Chuck Jones believes the main ingredient is how you say or do something—not what you say or do.
Chuck Jones—most known for his animation and direction on Looney Tunes—has been nominated for eight Academy Awards and received four for his cartoon work. Needless to say, Jones—who passed away in 2002—knew comedy pretty darn well. Jones believed there was a secret to it all:
“A comedian is not a person who opens a funny door — he’s the person who opens a door funny.”
Ever tried to listen to someone repeat a stand-up comedian’s joke? It’s amazing how unfunny it can be. So as you work on your jokes and humorous conversation, remember that you don’t need to stress about material. Instead think of ways to be funny without relying on a “funny door.” Of course, you don’t want to be all jokes all the time, but a sense of humor can get you a lot farther than you think.