Monday, November 15, 2010

What's the best insult you've ever heard or said?

Little Steven's Garage Festival: somewhere nearby lurks the insult master!

There are insults I remember in my life.

At their best, insults put down a deserving party while inflating the person's dignity who tells them - the ultimate equalizer and, if your name is Don Rickles, career move!

Insult #1

The best insult I ever uttered was to a ladyfriend after I found out she'd been with John and David behind my back:
"Are there any books of the Bible you haven't slept with!?" 
I said it with righteous indignation, while mentally congratulating myself for being so witty.

Insult #2

A classic insult I once heard in England, one man on a crowded train to another:
"Your mother's Volvo smells of elk!" 
Points for creativity, but what exactly is he accusing the other guy's mother of doing: giving an antelope a lift to Sweden?

And, yes, I'm quite sure it was "Volvo," Mr. Hawboldt.

Insults #3, 4

When I attended Little Steven's International Underground Festival in New York City in 2004, the bands were pretty awesome, but the person I remember best wasn't onstage.

No, it was the master of the two-part insult who made the biggest impression, a middle-aged, pudgy man wearing army pants, a muscle shirt, and Tilley hat.

For the better part of the festival, the master stood silent, biding his time as band after band took to the stage. Then it was the Strokes' turn to play, and the master swung into action, slamming the band with two-part insults for which he must've practiced his entire life.

The two I remember:
  • "You guys have no talent..." (takes a sip of beer)..."and you never will!"
  • "They should send you to Iraq..." (takes sip of beer)..."so you can get killed!"
I enjoyed his hilarious repertoire of two-part insults, and I wasn't alone. I watched, delighted, as two, young women posed for pictures in front of the master (without his knowledge, of course) clearly wanting to capture the magical moment forever.

The Strokes' career has never recovered. 

Insult #5

In Flannery O'Connor's great book, Wise Blood, a sad street vendor named Enoch Emery is abandoned by his father in the city. Dejected, he insults everyone he meets.

On a rainy day, he ducks under the marquee of a movie theatre, and joins a line of kids waiting to meet Gonga the Gorilla - a surly guy in a gorilla suit. Enoch sees his big chance to impress everyone by insulting the movie star:
"Enoch was trying frantically to think of an obscene remark that would be suitable to insult him with. Usually he didn't have any trouble with this kind of composition but nothing came to him now. His brain, both parts, was completely empty. He couldn't think even of the insulting phrases he used every day."

"Enoch's heart was beating violently. The child in front of him finished and stepped aside and left him facing the ape, who took his hand with an automatic motion. It was the first hand that had been extended to Enoch since he had come to the city. It was warm and soft."

"For a second he only stood there, clasping it. Then he began to stammer. "My name is Enoch Emery," he mumbled. "I attended the Rodemill Boys' Bile Academy. I work at the city zoo. I seen two of your pictures. I'm only eighteen year old, but I already work for the city. My daddy made me com..." and his voice cracked."

"An ugly pair of human (eyes) squinted at Enoch from behind the celluloid pair. "You go to hell," a surly voice inside the ape suit said, low but distinctly, and the hand was jerked away."
How insulting!


What's the best insult you've ever heard or said?


  1. While having a beer to celebrate the termination of a fellow employes employment, our supervisor was talking to this young women, whom the employee was interested in. Not willing to be beat again the employee said, "So Mike, are you going to stand here and polish your wedding ring all night, or go home and !%#$ your wife?"

  2. George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill: "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one."

    Churchill to Shaw: "Can’t possibly attend your first night. Will attend the second night, if there is one."

  3. Straight up.

    Back in our University days, a friend of mine, Tom had a girlfriend. Can't remember her name right now, but she was the clingy, whiny, needy type. Got to the point where she annoyed the hell out of all of us, including Tom.

    She was having one of her episodes in Campo where we were having coffee. She starts going off on, "Tom, you don't love me anymore - you just think I'm short, fat and ugly!"

    Without blinking, flinching or breaking stride, Tom turns, looks her straight in the eye and totally deadpans, "well, you're not that short."

    Composure, choice of words and timing - all perfect. The Trifecta of pure insult. Best I've ever seen or heard.

    Oh yeah. It was ovar! Then and there.

  4. Wow - you guys are very insulting! Ha, ha!

  5. "Get out of the trunk. It makes you look like a dead hooker."

  6. Heckler on street to David Bowie: "You look so pretentious, Bowie!"

    Bowie to Heckler: "Darling, I've always been pretentious."

  7. From James L. Brooks' brilliant As Good as it Gets:

    Jack Nicholson: Nellie, you're a disgrace to

    Greg Kinnear (whose character is gay): Rot in hell, Melvin.

    Jack Nicholson: No need to stop being a lady...
    quit worrying -- you'll be back on
    your knees in no time.

  8. When I was in my last year of high school, I sat next to someone in English class who had bullied me since we were in third grade. Eventually he was so cruel to me that I'd finally had enough, and went on for about five minutes about how he is the most worthless human being I'd ever met, and he'd never do anything good for the world. I'm sure I said a bunch of other stuff too.

    The next day he actually apologized. That was one of my prouder high school moments.


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