There are people out there who are willing to sacrifice pretty much anything—their pride, their self-respect, their reputation—for the sake of a good joke. They’re the everyday self-deprecating heroes of the internet who keep us chuckling even when the skies are grey and the chips are down.
That’s where the ‘Kamikaze By Words’ subreddit comes in. It’s a 433,000-member-strong online community that celebrates social media users who insult themselves in order to insult someone else. Someone who usually deserves it. Or, to put it more poetically, it’s “taking down the ship” in order to sink the captain.
The sub has been making people laugh since 2018, and it has collected some truly amazing posts in its 4-year tenure. What started out as an inside joke between friends eventually blossomed into a large community. We’re featuring the best of the best posts, all for the sake of your entertainment, dear Pandas. Scroll down to check them out and remember to upvote your fave ones. Got any similar stories to tell? You can share ‘em in the comments.
Meanwhile, Bored Panda got in touch with the mod team running ‘Kamikaze By Words’, as well as with comedy writer and aspiring pop-star Ariane Sherine to have a chat about self-deprecating humor. You’ll find both interviews below.
Research shows that one way to spot a self-aware leader with high emotional intelligence is to see if they make self-deprecating jokes. This type of humor indicates that they’re aware of their flaws and can talk about them with a laugh and a smile. However, at the same time, self-deprecation can be taken too far. For instance, if it becomes a reflex and if you actually start believing in the punchlines, it’s time to self-reflect and switch tracks.
The lead moderator running ‘Kamikaze By Words’ shared with Bored Panda that the subreddit “didn't actually start as a self-deprecating r/suicidebywords derivative.” They revealed that “it was initially set up as an inside joke between my friends and me about people essentially ‘canceling’ themselves.”
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The group of friends started talking about ‘Kamikaze’ out of their general interest in Japanese culture and customs. “There's even an unofficial KamikazeByWords Discord that's honestly just a bunch of people watching anime and unsubtitled Japanese dramas. Bit of a mystery that one, but I guess the Japanese themes stuck around with the core members,” they noted the strong link to Japanese culture.
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The lead mod of r/KamikazeByWords told Bored Panda about their friend who everyone calls ‘Wide Dangelo.’ “He's not actually overweight or anything, he just has the tendency to walk really broadly. The shoulders of that small man are an awesome sight to behold honestly. From every person I've ever met, every single person in our circle, not one man stands with more confidence, cracking self-deprecating jokes one after another,” they shared.
“But he stands, he makes fun of how he stands, but he stands broadly and proudly. And honestly, I think the world needs to know of people like him; whilst making fun of his own little quirks he stands there, widely. Absolutely legend,” the moderator told Bored Panda that self-deprecating humor has to be balanced out with pure, undiluted confidence.
Comedy expert Ariane, who lives and works in London, was kind enough to share her opinion on self-deprecating jokes, the type of humor that ‘Kamikaze By Words’ lives and breathes. Bored Panda was curious to get her take on where the line lies between just enough self-deprecation and way too much of it.
“I guess you draw the line if you start actually believing your words and feeling bad about yourself! Self-deprecation in the name of comedy is great, but self-talk is a powerful thing and putting yourself down all the time may have an effect on your self-esteem. I think it’s fine as long as it’s clearly a joke,” she explained to Bored Panda.
According to Ariane, we could all do with a laugh and should take ourselves less seriously. That means being able to poke fun at ourselves.
“I think being able to laugh at ourselves and our flaws is generally a positive thing. Barack Obama used to do it all the time and it was charming and disarming. However, it’s when you stop laughing at yourself and start berating yourself that it’s time to stop,” she told Bored Panda that we have to be honest with ourselves if we’re criticizing ourselves or still focusing on the humor, as we should.
Ariane also revealed to Bored Panda some standup comedy secrets. “In standup, you can either be high-level (superior to the audience) or low-level (inferior). Both can work really well,” she said.
“My first joke, back in 2003, was ‘I’m half-Iranian, half-American—so basically, I hate myself.’ I followed it up with, ‘I hate myself so much, I put anthrax in my self-addressed envelopes.’ The thing with standup is that even if you’re being down on yourself and self-deprecating, you also have to be really confident,” she pointed out the paradox. “The audience will sense if you don’t have faith in your jokes and will be less willing to laugh at them—they might even turn on you.”
The head mod of r/KamikazeByWords had this to add about internet culture as it stands in 2021 and 2022. “Not many people talk about this, but I feel like we have to accept that in 2021 ‘jannie’ (as in ‘internet janitor’) has become a slur. Just look at the people that use it and you immediately notice anything from racism to transphobia. Especially the latter, since a lot of Reddit's best moderators are trans themselves, and ‘jannie’ has almost trans-hate in and of itself.”
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If you’re planning on joining the ‘Kamikaze By Words’ community and sharing some posts, make sure that they actually “contain a Kamikaze.” In other words, the mods point out that the insult has to have “a clear secondary target.” What’s more, the insult actually has to affect both the secondary target and the person who’s doing the insulting in the first place.
The jokes also can’t be low-quality junk. And you should steer clear of controversial posts that delve into politics or religion. The sub might be all about insults, but everyone still has to be civil!