Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: "Don't just do something, stand there!" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: "Don't just do something, stand there!"
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 04 Apr 2003 23:31 PST
Expires: 05 May 2003 00:31 PDT
Question ID: 186295
In the answer to 185269, j_philipp-ga said:


The anecdote involves the phrase, "Don't just do something, stand
there!", attributed to a variety of people, like Peter Ustinov.

End Quote

I remember the anecdote vividly but I do not associate it with Klop
Ustinov's son ... In case you didn't know, Klop used to work for
British Intelligence but that's another story.

Anyhow, I have been troubled ever since by trying to recall precisely
who it was that I associated it with.

I believe it was some American showbiz icon of yesteryear who was
referring to someone who had it on the wall of his office.

Now, for a measly $2, will someone please trace the full history of
this phrase from Biblical times (Old Testament) through to the

If necessary, please review any papyri or hieroglyphics that might be

Now, please don't all rush to lock this question.

Oh, well, why not?

Start rushing NOW!
Subject: Re: "Don't just do something, stand there!"
Answered By: j_philipp-ga on 05 Apr 2003 01:20 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Probonopublico,

Online I find references to Jesus, God, Buddha, Peter Ustinov, Tom
Servo/ Mystery Science Theater 3000, the White Rabbit, Forest
Whitaker, and Ronald Reagan. It's hard to know who was first but I'm
inclined to give special mentions to the "Alice in Wonderland" movie

------- God

Don't Just Do Something - This Week's Theme: Tuning in to God
"You know how people say, "Don't just stand there, do something"? I
believe God is telling us, "Don't just do something, stand there." God
wants us to be quiet sometimes and just meditate. We have to listen
before we can learn and obey."

------- Peter Ustinov

Re: No small parts...only small actors!! (by Steven Weller, 1999)
Newsgroup: rec.arts.movies.production
"My favorite annecdotes along these lines come mostly from Peter
Ustinov (...), long an opponent of the so-called 'method' acting
style.  He recognized (rightly, I think) that there ARE small parts;
parts that just require someone to show up and say a word or two, and
that's it.  While there was a long, drawn-out story about telling a
method actor about how he wanted him to deliver his one, single line,
'as if you have a brother in Shropshire who drinks port,' the best was
probably the heart-felt exclamation to an actor who was seriously
overplaying the business of his small role - 'Don't just do something,

By the way, as far as I can recollect the Ustinov anecdote in the book
-- I forgot the title [1], but it was something along the lines of
"The Guide To Insulting" -- featured an elderly woman at a tea party.

------- White Rabbit

Meet thousands of idiots (by Stuart Castergine, 1993)
"'Don't just do something, stand there!' -- White Rabbit"

Greatest Moments and Scenes
"The White Rabbit's comical quip, 'Don't just do something, stand
there!,' and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in the animated Disney
classic, Alice in Wonderland (1951)"

If it's from the book, credits would go to Lewis Carrol/ Charles L.
Dodgson. However I downloaded the complete text of "Alice in
Wonderland" and could not find the phrase (or anything resembling it).

If the line indeed originated in the Disney script, credits would go
to one of the writers: Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Erdman
Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Milt Banta, William Cottrell (I), Dick Kelsey,
Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Del Connell, Tom Oreb, and John Walbridge.
Here again I cannot locate the exact phrase in the script.


IMDB - Full Cast and Crew for Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Disney's Alice In Wonderland movie script
"White Rabbit: Don’t just do something standing... Uh... no no! Go go!
Go get my gloves! I’m late! "

"Alice in Wonderland" Download at Project Gutenberg (Junior Classics
-- Volume 06 : Old-Fashioned Tales)
"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" -- White Rabbit

------- Jesus

MSPC Sermon Archive
"[To] Martha Jesus said, "Don't just do something, stand there!"
Better yet, sit here, with Mary. Stay still. There is doing, and then
there is over-doing. He wasn't saying that Martha shouldn't do
anything. Just that Martha shouldn't try to do everything."

------- Buddha

Sleeping for World Peace
"You tap into greater strength by letting go than acting out of
anxiety. Buddha said, "Don't just do something--stand there.""

------- Tom Servo/ Mystery Science Theater 3000

Re: On God and Science (by Kent Sandvik, 1992)
"'Don't just do something! Stand there!' -- Mystery Science Theater

(Genesis) Captain America and the Avengers (by Chris Randall, 1992)
"'Don't just do something, stand there! -Tom Servo, MST3000"

------- Ronald Reagan

Docnetblog: August 2002 Archives
"'Don't just do something, stand there.' -Ronald Reagan"

------- Daniel Berrigan

Forums - Trading Maxims/Quotes
"'Don't just do something, stand there!' -Daniel Berrigan"

------- Forest Whitaker

Stars Honored at Kennedy Center
"Forest Whitaker said last night: 'Don't just do something, stand

Hope this helps!


[1] As Friedrich Nietzsche put it, "The advantage of a bad memory is
that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first

Search strategy:
Google Groups
Project Gutenberg Free Books
Your Ultimate Success Quotation Library Software

Search terms:
"don't just do something, stand there"

Request for Answer Clarification by probonopublico-ga on 27 May 2003 23:24 PDT
Hi, Again, JP ... remember me?

Last night I watched a video that I had made of a 1990 posthumous
tribute to Bob Fosse and ... guess what? ... it was he who I could not
recall as having uttered that immortal phrase.

He was talking about someone called (what sounded like) Sammy Meissen
who had 'affected' his career at some early stage. Meissen was
something to do with the theatre and he had the said phrase stuck on a
wall in his office.

NOW I can sleep again.

Was it really only 8 weeks ago when I posed the question?

It seems longer.



Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 28 May 2003 07:40 PDT
Bryan, I think it were actually only 7,42 weeks, if the Windows
calculator is as precise as it pretends to be. Time moves differently

"Where did the Internet year come from and why is it equal to a dog
year? (Or why do Internet programmers live like dogs?)"

Request for Answer Clarification by probonopublico-ga on 28 May 2003 08:31 PDT
Hi, JP

You've obviously overlooked the International Date Line which cuts in
and out from time to time (no pun intended) to distort so called
'scientific' calculations.

My method of chalking off the days on a wall is much more reliable,
believe me.

It has stood the test of time.

KR PB 1111

Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 28 May 2003 14:18 PDT
To whom it may concern aka Bryan:

I will have to put something here to respond to your Request for
Clarification or else I have this big red mark in my Google Answers
account overview saying "Needs Attention".


PS: I don't think this'll ruin your day, so I'd like to let you know
-- your "Over 1,000 comments"-thread is stagnating!

Request for Answer Clarification by probonopublico-ga on 28 May 2003 22:53 PDT
Wow, JP

Thanks for the tip ...

Please help to prevent stagnation!



Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 29 May 2003 03:41 PDT
(This would have been another clarification, had you requested one.)

Request for Answer Clarification by probonopublico-ga on 29 May 2003 22:43 PDT
Hi, JP

No ... I don't require any further clarification but thank you for
your courtesy anyway.

Don't just Clarify ... Courtesify

You are shining beacon!


PB 1111

Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 30 May 2003 05:41 PDT
Out of courtesy, I offer you the following anagram of "Probonopublico-ga":

    A poor gin blob coup

I'm sure you can find better ones at:

Internet Anagram Server

probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Hi, J_Philipp!

Many thanks for responding so promptly and for the excellent trawl
that you have carried out.

Unfortunately, you haven't fingered the man that I had in mind, but
maybe the name will come back to me before I go completely mad.

However, I hadn't realised that phrase was so well worn.

I am therefore delighted to award you FIVE TWINKLERS.

I would have sent you some Virtual Vintage Australian Chardonnay as
well but the last of our stocks was shipped out to either Missy or
Pinky ... I can't remember which.

Note to Missy and Pinky: If there's any left, please send some to j_p.

Many thanks.


(No, that was not a cue for some Smart Alick response.)

Subject: Re: "Don't just do something, stand there!"
From: pinkfreud-ga on 28 Jul 2003 10:59 PDT
Hi, Bryan! Since there was, as you mentioned, no cue for a 'Smart
Alick response', I have avoided commenting on this question until now.

However, cue or not, it is hard for me to resist posting a comment to
a probonopublico question eventually, so consider yourself
smartalickified in a pinkish sort of way. ;-)

Subject: Re: "Don't just do something, stand there!"
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Jul 2003 11:15 PDT
Thanks Pinky!

You really are a magician.
Subject: Re: "Don't just do something, stand there!"
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Jul 2003 11:17 PDT
The Comment that I tried to post earlier was that there was a 1973
British movie on tv over the past weekend entitled ...

'Don't just say something, lie there'.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy