40 Notorious Comebacks That Put People In Their Place Immediately (New Pics)
Stepping up gives you one sense of accomplishment, but one-upping someone who’s clearly wrong is a whole other achievement. So this post is dedicated to those who didn’t stay silent when hearing false statements, fake news, or faulty arguments, but decided to cut the BS and do everyone a public service.
Thanks to the r/CleverComebacks subreddit, a community with 830k members that’s constantly growing, we have laid out some of the most razor-sharp comebacks. Scroll down, upvote the sharpest comebacks and be sure to check out our previous post on witty comebacks.
We also spoke to Abigail Paul, an actress, standup comedian and improviser who has given seminars on incorporating theatre techniques for purposes beyond the stage to schools, businesses and organizations all over Germany since 2001. Abigail told us how to improve our comeback skills, starting from learning to be better listeners. Tune in for the interview below!
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“The secret to any comeback is connection,” she said and continued: “If you are really listening (and connecting) with another person, you are taking them in fully, aware of who they are, the context in which you are dealing with this person.”
Abigail believes that we tend do this assessment unconsciously. “We aren't even always aware that we are always sizing up other people. This is too often because we are so focused on ourselves.”
“I teach the rules and principles of improvisation. We credit the improv guru Keith Johnstone with the term 'status' exercises and games, which helps us see things like status moves, and how to make a character in a scene have a higher or lower status. By working on this skill in a theatrical way, you also start to notice status 'wars' happening in real life. On the stage, it usually has the end effect of being comedic. In real life, it can go either way.”
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Abigail argues that a great comeback feels great because it was earned. “It was spontaneous. The commenter was probably really listening. It was unique to that moment, set of people, situation,” she explained.
When asked how to make sure that your comeback doesn't sound mean, Abigail warns that “a comeback is not a clapback—which is generally sarcastic, but a clapback might be fun among friends.” Moreover, “Context of situation always matters. In working on status exercises in improv, we try to get people to see that the easiest way to raise another person's status is to lower their own. We see that in standup comedy too. Usually it works best if the comic is the butt of the joke, not the audience. (There are plenty of exceptions.)”
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According to Abigail, “You needn't be too self-effacing for a good comeback, but if it can lift other people up, it usually works well and gains the speaker a laugh and cements the bond that says, we are in this together.”
Comebacks can be a useful communication tool, but Abigail argues that excellent listening skills are the most important thing. “Paying attention, making accurate observations about the people in the room, and how they feel—these are the tools that will make a comeback really shine,” she said.
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And when it comes to getting better at listening, Abigail shared a fun game to exercise. “Have a chat with someone, but you have to start your response with the last letter of what the person has just said to you,” she said and added: “For example, if person 1 says 'what was the best part of your day'—the response must start with Y from the word day.”
“It might make for odd conversations at first, but it also forces you to really listen to the complete end of the person's sentence before you add in your own thoughts,” she concluded.