The Sayings of Mikhail Zhvanetsky

Mikhail Zhvanetsky is the most prolific and famous Russian humorist. Here are my own translations of some of his best lines.

  • Better a small dollar than a big thank you.
  • Better dinner without an appetite than an appetite without dinner.
  • Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.
  • I drive too fast to worry about cholesterol.
  • Best alibi — be a victim.
  • A pedestrian is always right. While he is alive.
  • Any car will last you a life-time. If you are hasty enough.
  • Better a belly from beer than a hump from hard work.
  • A bald patch is a glade trampled by thoughts.
  • It is difficult to crawl with your head proudly held high.
  • It’s a shame when other people have your dreams come true!
  • The lottery is the most accurate measure of the number of optimists.
  • A courteous man will not criticize a woman who carries a railroad tie awkwardly.
  • The highest degree of embarrassment? Exchanged glances in a keyhole.
  • Everything goes well, but past me.
  • Let them laugh at you, rather than cry.
  • While you measure seven times, others will already make a cut.
  • It is not enough to find your place in life, you have to be there first.
  • If a person knows what he wants, then he either knows too much or wants too little.
  • And then he took a knife and shot himself dead.
  • Thinking is too difficult, so most people judge.
  • The more I look in the mirror, the more I believe in Darwin.
  • Of two evils, I choose the one I haven’t tried before.
  • Do not run from a sniper, you’ll die tired.
  • You came — thanks; you left — many thanks.
  • All great men are long dead, and I am feeling so-so.
  • Never exaggerate the stupidity of your enemies and the loyalty of your friends.
  • To save a drowning man, it is not enough to lend a hand; it is necessary for him to offer his hand in return.
  • What a pity that you are leaving at long last.
  • An idea came into his head and now it is desperately trying to find his brain.
  • I am infinitely respectful of the terrible choices of my people.
  • Some have both hemispheres protected by a skull, others by pants.
  • For illusions of grandeur one doesn’t need grandeur; illusions are quite enough.
  • Good always wins over evil. Hence, the winner is always good.
  • Only on your birthday do you discover how many useless things there are in the world.
  • You can recognize a decent man by how difficult it is for him to be nasty.
  • Everything in this world is relative. For example, the length of one minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.
  • In the form I filled in before the surgery there was this question: Whom should we call in case of an emergency? I wrote: A more qualified surgeon.

4 Comments

  1. Leo:

    Of two evils, I choose the one I haven’t tried before. (c) Mae West.

  2. Leo:

    “the length of one minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on” – Zall’s second law.

    Now I start to wonder how many one-liners attributed to him, if any, are genuinely his.

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