Crafting a snappy and witty comeback that’ll grab everyone’s attention is no easy feat. However, all that effort and comedic instinct are worth it—if it’s on the internet, it might just live on in the digital hall of fame in screenshot form. Who knows, you might see peeps sharing your comeback for years and years. Ego boost? Yes, please!
One place where these legendary testaments to people’s wit are documented is the ‘Clever Comebacks’ page on Twitter. Having been founded just a few short months ago, in February, it’s grown to have nearly 67k followers since then.
We’ve collected the crème de la crème of clever comebacks for you to enjoy, dear Pandas, so go on and have a look at them below. Hopefully, some of these will inspire you to greatness the next time you need a snappy one-liner. Don’t forget to upvote the ones you enjoyed the most and let us know what the very best comeback you’ve ever said or written was in the comments.
I reached out to British musical stand-up comedian and comedy writer Ariane Sherine to talk to her about comebacks, the role that courage plays in comedy, and how we can overcome our fear of being judged whether on-stage or on-screen. Have a read below for Bored Panda's interview with the humor expert.
"Courage is hugely important," British comedian Ariane told Bored Panda about its role in comedy. "The more courageous you are, the more you'll shed your inhibitions and the greater the chance that you'll say something shocking and funny."
According to the comedy expert, the element of surprise is "essential" to comedy. And more often than not, "there's an edge or a hint of cruelty" in most jokes and comebacks. "If you're timid and careful, then you're probably not going to want to offend people with comebacks and will be polite rather than witty," she said.
The anonymity that the internet and social media provide can be a double edged sword: it can help people feel freer because they'll take criticism less personally, but it can also empower bullies to spew hatred. Comedian Ariane agreed that anonymity is a tool and everything depends on how we use it.
"We feel freer to say things we wouldn't say in real life, but that also means we're more likely to be hurtful. I think the same is true of being on stage for comics—when we're holding the mic we feel free to dispense with niceties," she gave us her take on the relationship between anonymity, honesty, and comedy.
Bored Panda was also intrigued to find out how best not to freeze up when you're going on-stage as a comedian or if we're paralized for fear of being rejected before posting a joke or a witty comeback. "Alcohol! Only joking. I guess it's to remember that fear of rejection never got anyone anywhere," Ariane quipped and then pointed out that we have to focus on what our end goals really are. "All the comics you admire have overcome fear of rejection. So do you want to make people laugh or not?"
Comebacks, from cool and clever to lame and drab, are nothing new to us. Previously, I’d also spoken with comedian Ariane about the art of the comeback, as she's an insider in the world of comedy, timing, and shutting down hecklers.
Speed, according to Ariane, is where the essence of comebacks lies. Without it, our attempts at humor can fall flat. “I think the most important thing with comebacks is speed. Even if the joke isn't a total zinger, people will be impressed by your quickfire response," she told Bored Panda in an earlier interview.
However, unlike us mere mortals, most stand-up comics actually come prepared. They’ve got an entire repertoire of comebacks at the ready, just in case they need to shut down a heckler or fire off a rapid put-down or two. What’s more, comedians tend to share these comebacks with one another.
“We're not all as fast and talented as it seems! But if we're doing stand-up, our own routines will be original—it's just heckle putdowns that might not be," Ariane gave us an insight into the giggle industry.
Ariane highlighted the fact that you grow your emotional resilience with experience as a comedian. Over time, you get better at delivering comebacks and how quickly you can do so. “You don't want to give them the chance to reject you—you've got to get in there first with a funny insult!" she said about the dynamic between the performer and the audience if the latter’s feeling a tad cheeky and wants to have a go at ruining the show.
If you feel like you’re not up to snuff, you really should draw on others for inspiration when it comes to good comedy. Whether it’s reading through tons of screenshots of clever comebacks that you find on the net or watching reruns of your favorite comedians (both are great).
However, British comedy pro Ariane pointed out that you shouldn’t be stealing original stand-up material for your own shows. It’s fine if you’re doing it to impress your friends, but there’s a certain code of honor that pops up when you start earning money for your jokes.
Ariane told Bored Panda something that most people know but few voice aloud: it’s very clear to everybody when a comeback is good and when it’s so bad, you’ll be remembering it and cringing for years. We instinctively know what’s quality and what’s best left on the dusty lower shelf in the joke store.
Note: this post originally had 42 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.
“It needs to be very fast, well-timed, and take people by surprise as well as being clever, witty, and immediately understandable,” the stand-up comedian listed all the things that a comeback needs in order to grab our attention and make us laugh.