The best way to know a man is to walk a thousand miles in his shoes. That way, he's a thousand miles away and has no shoes.

I'm willing to bet it's a Jack Handey quote, as it's rather in that vein of thinking, but the question came up, and since "walk a thousand miles in [his] shoes" is so vague, it's hard to pin it down on [insert-random-search-engine-here].

So what's the best way to look up a quote like this (and bonus points for the source attribution / correct quote on this one)?

  • Wow, looks like it was Handey. You deduced that from the style alone? Nice.
    – Pops
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:09
  • @LordT Or that I had seen the original clip at some point in the past and so my brain recognized it. But it definitely has the style of a Handey (take something familiar, then apply BOfH styling to it, but not too over the top)
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:12
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's two questions disguised as one, and one is off-topic (sourcing a quote) and the other seems to be wrongly expressed (the grammar is unremarkable, allowing 'that way' to reference the implicit 'if you do this'). Commented May 21 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


Johnny Carson, "What I Have Learned," 1991: “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, if he's upset, he's a mile away and you've got his shoes." Handey did start on SNL in 1991 but I don't know when/if he did this gag, which I've also seen attributed to Billy Connolly. I know about the Carson date because I was his head writer, 1988-92.


Well, I googled "never judge walk mile shoes mile away have his shoes handey" and got this, which says the quote is

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes." – Jack Handey

My technique was to specify a subset of the quote that I thought had the words that most likely actually appeared in the original quote, along with the suspected correct attribution.

  • I applaud you for ID'ing that it was indeed a Jack Handey quote ... I tried the "subset of the quote" but apparently my subset was off. Bravissimo to you. Can you think of a better way to refine quotes to trim down to unique key words? (my CS brain just started churning on an algorithm and now I think there must already be a well defined way to find these sparse posts)
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:09
  • It seems like asking a lot for there to be such a thing. :) What I mainly try to do is leave out the parts where I'm unsure of the original phrasing; I got "never judge" wrong above, which I'm sure hurt me, but I guess not that badly. I also didn't try to cut down to unique keywords; notice that I duplicated "mile" and "shoes". That's because I'm under the impression that Google calculates additional relevance from sequence matches (I wanted "mile away" and "have his shoes" to appear in a matchable sequence).
    – chaos
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:13
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    +1 I was going to post an answer with the same quote. My technique was the same, except that I chose the following words: quote know a man thousand miles shoes "no shoes". Notice that I did not even need to include jack handey to get the same link on the first results page.
    – b.roth
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:17
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    @Bruno Rothgiesser: Ah, so. Your google-fu is strong.
    – chaos
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:35

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