"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” is a saying that’s from the Yiddish proverb Der mentsh trakht und Gott lakht ("Man plans and God laughs"). Although the Yiddish proverb is much older, “Man thinks and God laughs” was cited in English print in 1970 and “A man plans and God laughs” was cited in 1975.
“How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans” was cited in print in 1992.
Wikipedia: Yiddish proverbs
.דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט
Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.
Translation: Man plans and God laughs.
English equivalent; Man proposes, God disposes.
Source: Furman, Israel (1968). יידישע שפריכווערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 248.
A Rabbi Teaches:
A Collection of Addresses and Sermons
By Herman Hailperin
New York, NY: Bloch Publishing Company
Our Yiddish speaking folks used to say, Der Mensch tracht und Gott lacht — “Man proposes and God disposes.”
1001 Yiddish Proverbs
By Fred Kogos
New York, NY: Citadel Press
A mentsh tracht un Got lacht.
Man thinks and God laughs.
In the Beginning
By Chaim Potok
New York, NY: Knopf: Distributed by Random House
A man plans and God laughs. God in heaven, if there is a God in this world, how He must laugh!
Whose Little Boy Are You?:
By Ḥanokh Barṭov
Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society of America
“Of course, sometimes, but a mentsh tracht un Got lacht — man plans and God laughs.”
,i>Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories
By Sholem Aleichem
Translated from the Yiddish by Hillel Halkin
New York, NY: Schocken Books
Al tis’haleyl beyoym mokhor — the more man plans, the harder God laughs.
Take My Life, Please!
By Henny Youngman with Neal Karlen
Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press
I’m a comic, for Chrissakes, not a rabbi. But this is a good one, and it’s taken me eighty-six years to figure out its truth. Everybody ready? Mensh tracht, Gott lacht. (Pg. 21—ed.) Man plans, God laughs.
20 July 1992, Kansas City (MO) Star, “Stop talking? Pul-leese! Joan Rivers is back on track after suicide of husband, failed show” by Frank Rizzo, pg. D4:
Her sunny study is filled with needlepoint pillows she stitches herself with samplers that are funny but also reflect the survival side of the comedian-author-talk-show host.
“Do not expect praise without envy--unless you’re dead,” reads one. And “You can marry more money in five minutes than you can earn in a lifetime.” And “It’s just as lonely at the top--only you eat better.” And one she has just started: “How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”
15 January 1995, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Cancer not slowing former newsman,” pg. 2A, col. 2:
NEW YORK—John Chancellor was just settling into retirement after a 43-year career as a broadcast journalist when he learned at age 67 that he had stomach cancer.
“As I read somewhere, ‘You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.’”
You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar
By David H. Sandler
New York, NY: Dutton
As John Chancellor said after he retired from broadcasting and discovered that he had cancer: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Google Groups: rec.windsurfing
From: (Dara Hogan)
Subject: Re: Windsurfing Spots in Europe
“Make God laugh - tell him your plans for the future!” (Woody Allen)
OCLC WorldCat record
Man plans, God laughs—and more wisdom from our grandparents
Author: George D Hanus
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : World Jewish Digest, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Book : English
OCLC WorldCat record
We plan, God laughs : 10 steps to finding your divine path when life is not turning out like you wanted
Author: Sherre Z Hirsch
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
A rabbi addresses the quesion of how our limited plans for the future are transformed when they do not turn out as we expect or hope and explains how we can devise a spiritual plan that reflects who we are and who we want to be.
“If You Want to Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.”
Woody Allen is credited with saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” We could add to it, “If you want to hear him laugh even louder, tell him how much you know.” Just because it’s true, however, doesn’t make it easy to accept. It’s hard to admit that we do not know as much as we think we know. And we certainly aren’t in control of as much as we’d like to think. We make our plans, but it is God who controls the outcome.
5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions
By John C. Norcross
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
Alcoholics Anonymous has a maxim: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”