Outside of a roast or a rap battle, being insulted is never fun. But it can be particularly satisfying to turn the tables with a perfectly timed bon mot.
On the popular subreddit r/AskReddit, u/Pretend_Cookie7401 asked, “What is the best response to ‘you are ugly?” Their question was upvoted over 18,400 times, and has received over 8,400 comments in 10 hours.
There were a number of one-liners provided by the original poster’s fellow Redditors.
“Thanks you too,” u/mari1819 said—and many cited this as a “perfect response.” User u/karipaints also liked this one, writing “I love this one because not only is it a short and sweet comeback, they’re going to spend time being confused in addition to being insulted as you walk away in a sunset of satisfaction.”
“B**** I might be,” u/__groundhogday__ wrote, invoking Gucci Mane. This posted prompted u/mmendell4891 to say, “I’m gonna start using this for all insults. Thank you.”
“Coming from you, that means absolutely nothing to me,” u/u-ok-yokai wrote.
“At least I can easily change my looks. What can you do about your personality?” u/NoInvestment194 offered, perhaps echoing an famous slam film critic Roger Ebert once leveled at director Vincent Gallo when he called the critic a “fat pig”: “I will one day be thin but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of The Brown Bunny.” (Ebert later praised the film in a second review of The Brown Bunny after Gallo cut nearly a half-hour from the film, writing: “For that matter, since I made that statement I have lost 86 pounds and Gallo is indeed still the director of The Brown Bunny.”)
Some Redditors shared variations on a theme.
“I guess that makes two of us,” u/midnightsupernatural wrote.
“To slightly rephrase: ‘Hopefully that’s the only thing we have in common,'” u/AGRANMA offered.
“It’s like the mature ‘I’m rubber you’re glue’ but we’re both glue and it really burns like fire,” u/theunixman replied.
For some, it can be hard to think of a witty comeback on the spot. While it can be handy to have a few canned responses like the ones offered by Reddit, the BBC offers a few tips to be ready to come up with your own original comebacks. The best advice, the BBC says, is to listen closely to what people say in order to spin it around—particularly listening to those people particularly known for making snide putdowns.
However, often the best thing to do is to ignore the putdown and try to be the bigger person—even if that might not be as satisfying in the moment as spitting out the perfect comeback.
“[Negative comebacks] increase tension, make a person feel excluded or inferior, and as though they are not in the ‘in group’ which is in the know,” Belina Raffy, a business improvisation consultant, told the BBC.
A few redditors shared stories of comeuppance from those who insulted them.
“I haven’t been called ugly, but there was this person who I thought was a friend. She got real exited telling me about her wedding preparations. Then she tells me ‘ oh I was considering about putting you in the bridal party but I want my bridesmaids to look nice’. I told her ‘ah geez thanks’ and went no contact,” u/squishy_one wrote. “Though karma is a real b****, the guy she was going to we’d emptied their bank accounts, their house and like a puff of smoke disappeared.”
“In middle school (ages 11-13) there was a teacher named Bonner, and every so often someone would realize it was just one ‘n’ too many. This person would then say something in class, and Bonner would look at the kid, completely straight faced, and say ‘I don’t know what you mean by that. Please come up here and explain it to us.’ and hold out the chalk,” u/theunixman offered.