The wit and wisdom of David Mamet

If your goal is to put white caps on your gray matter, watch a performance of one of David Mamet‘s plays (e.g.  Speed-the-Plow) or a film version of one of his plays (e.g. Glengarry Glen Ross). He is one of the most thoughtful — and thought-provoking — thought leaders, often controversial but never ignored.

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Roll back the clock, and every possession of every great country started with a crime.

I hate vacations. There’s nothing to do.

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

I always thought the real violence in Hollywood isn’t what’s on the screen. It’s what you have to do to raise the money.

It’s only words… unless they’re true.

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

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

The product of the artist has become less important than the fact of the artist. We wish to absorb this person. We wish to devour someone who has experienced the tragic. In our society this person is much more important than anything he might create.

Policemen so cherish their status as keepers of the peace and protectors of the public that they have occasionally been known to beat to death those citizens or groups who question that status.

A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.

People may or may not say what they mean… but they always say something designed to get what they want.

Always tell the truth – it’s the easiest thing to remember.

Every reiteration of the idea that nothing matters debases the human spirit.

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.

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.

Our job, as writers is to do our jobs.

I understand that computers, which I once believed to be but a hermaphrodite typewriter-cum-filing cabinet, offer the cyber literate increased ability to communicate. I do not think this is altogether a bad thing, however it may appear on the surface.

When I started out I was a failed actor.

My tendency as an actor was to correct people, was to say, ‘What if we tried it this way, what about if we tried that way?’ That’s terrible habit for an actor, but that’s a good habit for director. So I became a director.

When the three branches of government have failed to represent the citizenry and the mass of the media has failed to represent the citizenry, then the citizenry better represent the citizenry.

My idea of perfect happiness is a healthy family, peace between nations, and all the critics die.

My greatest fear is that the audience will beat me to the punch line.

American football seems to resemble soccer in that one scores by putting the ball through the opponent’s goal; but football, truly is about land. The Settlers want to move the line of scrimmage Westward, the Native Americans want to move it East.

Each culture has its own form of staged combat, evolved from its particular method of street fighting and cleaned up for presentation as a spectacle, such as savate, Cornish wrestling, karate, kung-fu.

Mixed martial arts was invented by Brazilians, whose families had been trained by the Japanese. Those Brazilians came to the U.S., where their invention was bought out, gussied up and presented to the world, which found it good.

They say you can’t study Kabbalah until you are at least 40 years old. You know why? You have to have experienced at least one generation making the same mistakes as the previous one.

I know very well what it is to be out of work and to be cheated by employers and I know what it is to be an employer.

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David Alan Mamet was born November 30, 1947. He is an American playwright, film director, screenwriter and author. He won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony nominations for his aforementioned plays Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). He first gained critical acclaim for a trio of off-Broadway 1970s plays: The Duck Variations, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and American Buffalo. His plays Race and The Penitent, respectively, opened on Broadway in 2009 and previewed off-Broadway in 2017.

To learn more about him and his work, please click here.

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