When provoked, many people, yell out a few vulgar and insulting phrases, feign an angry look, and think that’s the end of it. However, like any other art, insulting requires highly specific skills and talents, but many underestimate that. The art of insulting is a skill only a few can master.
First step for the most successful insult requires creating a formidable gap between the person who insults and the bearer of the insult. When the former raises the voice it has the opposite effect in this respect because most likely the object of the insults will reciprocate using the same weapon, namely, raising the voice, resulting in a face-off between two shrieking baboons, both appearing equally ludicrous.
If one of the warring parties decide not to let themselves be drawn into the verbal contest and departs quietly, it would amount to humiliating the other. Only Idiots see this retreat as a victory, but the opposite is true. It is the superior who retreat because their eyes look at matters of greater importance than involving themselves in a skirmish with a gang of barbarians hollering at the top of their voice for a strategically unimportant molehill.
In order to create a formidable gap, one should not insult with the blunt power of the sword, but like an artist should use the sublime elegance of the brush. Since every angry word count as proof of the other’s helplessness, one should speak mildly and softly as a civilized person would and instantly swipe the weapons from the opponent.
It is better to offend with an open expression of politeness, friendliness, and charity. Some of the best insults are seemingly mild words, but augmented with a superior sarcastic smile. By the way, irony is an essential ingredient for a successful insult and like a low-flying stealth bomber remains invisible to enemy radar.
True insult is a product of creativity and subtlety, and not a string of random references to sexual organs and excrement. The best insult has a simple quality. It not only insults the victim, but also as an ultimate humiliation, renders him superficial. It must convey a compliment, but truly should mean the opposite.
Woulter Parr, a renowned critic was a master in the art of insulting. In the last paragraph of his review of one of K. Horvath’s plays he wrote:
“This is no play to be lightly shoved aside, but one that deserves to be thrown with great force. The stage set was lovely, but the actors kept standing in front of it. It was a performance in which all of the actors clearly and intelligibly articulated their lines, alas. Kitty Becker, in the lead, exploited the whole range of emotions from A to B. One would have to have a heart of stone not to watch her suicide at the end of the play without bursting out laughing. I never forget a face, but in the case of Kitty Becker I’m happy to make an exception. Giving Hands is the type of play that gives failure a bad name. The only original idea about art ever to come from Ms. Horvath’s pen had to do with her superiority as a writer in relation to writers greater than she. First God created the idiots. That was just practice; afterwards he created Ms. Horvath. It was an act of mercy that God allowed Mr. Habold Sicx and Ms. Horvath to marry, thus making two people unhappy instead of four. You don’t need to see the explanatory hand gestures or Ms. Horvath to be fully convinced by this.”
- The Effect of Humour on Insult Between Chesterton and Shaw (tvaraj.com)
- Lost art of the insult (telegraph.co.uk)
- Shakespeare Insults (nosweatshakespeare.com)
- The Art of Insulting (facebook.com/theartofinsulting)
- My favorite insult (oup.com)
- Get Ridiculed by the Shakespeare Insult Wallet from NeatoShop (Video) (complex.com)
- Why Do People Insult Others? (ginaeleescott.wordpress.com)