Have you ever met a person who always has witty comebacks for anything that is said to or about them? These people seem to have the ability of being quick-witted and being able to come up with the right thing to say in a short period of time. Having arguments with these folks is a nightmare, and going out with them leads to the spotlight always shining on them.
So how are they able to be so witty? How does one get better at comebacks?
To them, it might come naturally, but any action can be further deconstructed – no matter how complex.
This article presents a general three-step approach to developing good, witty comebacks.
Listen Fully: The Forgotten Key of a Quick Comeback
The first step to establishing yourself as a person with the wittiest comebacks of all, is to let the people that you are speaking with finish. Your ability to let others finish what they’re saying will leave them in a comfortable social position while being around you.
People will be much more open to what you have to say when you listen to their thoughts first. An aspect of having good verbal comebacks is the tendency to always be heard. People tend to listen most to those who talk the least, and establishing yourself as a vocal authority involves letting others finish their thoughts first.
If the previous reason wasn’t enough for you to listen to others in full, the this next one should do the trick. The most important factor to an effective and witty verbal comeback is the amount and quality of ‘ammo’ that you have. You need to collect material for your comebacks. You will collect this material from the content others deliver. When people are talking, you have an opportunity to plan your comeback using the content which they present to you themselves.
The longer a person talks, the better the chances are of you finding that one aspect of their delivery to focus your comeback on. Listening to others fully should thereby be viewed as beneficial to you because it gives you material for what you’re about to say next. It serves to benefit you in two ways, by enticing others to listen to what you finally have to say, and giving you more material for your comeback.
Think of Your Comeback Shell
As the person is talking and providing you the material you need for your comeback, think of what you’re going to say. At this point in the process, you should structure your comeback only from a broad perspective. Know the points which you want to hit on but don’t plan your witty comeback in detail. The trick to this step is to know which areas of the information that you hear to ‘attack’ with your comeback.
Generally, most people stick to mistakes, embarrassing statements, or opportunities for humor to capitalize on. The art of the comeback revolves around using what your opponent has said against them. So keep your ear tuned to what general approach you want to take when it is time for you to speak.
The reason you need to leave this part general, is because in order to have an effective comeback, it needs to surprise both the listener as well as yourself. Comebacks which are planned can be smelled from a mile away. Humorous and entertaining comebacks always have an element of surprise to them, for both the speaker as well as listener.
During the time in which a person is talking, plan the general approach of your comeback, but don’t plan the comeback in detail. Simply know what the subject of your comeback will be. Once you’ve listened to the material and armed yourself with a general approach, it’ll come time to fill in the finer details of your comeback.
Substitute the Blanks
This part takes the most skill and is somewhat hard to teach. You need to be quick on your feet when delivering a comeback, and with the general approach of your comeback planned out beforehand, it’ll come time to impress the audience. Even though you didn’t plan the details of your comeback, you should know what makes the material you decided to focus on interesting. Did the person speaking say something funny, embarrassing, or humorous? What about the subject they mentioned draws your attention most?
When it is your moment to speak, simply say what about the subject you’ve selected for your comeback stood out to you.
Comebacks rely on the quickness of back-and-forth banter. The trick to filling in the blanks of your comeback is to be fully confident in what you think of the situation at hand. Delivering a comeback effectively is an underrated assumption of risk. You’ll be nervous, as your witty remarks can totally fail. This is why it is easier to be witty and have quick, effective comebacks in social settings rather than in professional environments, as there are less verbal filters that you need to focus on.
Since you have the material for which you want to focus on, something about that material caught your eye. Your main goal to performing a witty comeback is to make others feel what you feel about the material of the comeback. If you feel like the material you chose to latch onto is humorous, bring that humor forth to your listeners. If you think that the ‘ammo’ of your comeback is embarrassing for the person who spoke before you, then call out the embarrassing aspects at hand.
Remember, witty comebacks rely on having a solid shell for your comeback by listening to others fully. If the material you gather is not worthy of a good witty comeback, then the comeback itself will fail. Substituting the details in the final stages of witty comebacks should be easy if your general shell stands on good solid ground. Focus your skills on acknowledging subjects which are worth zeroing in on and poking fun at.
Practice these approaches and don’t let failures deter you. Witty comebacks can be a great social tool to utilize, so practice it as the skill that it is. Perfect the steps to developing a good comeback, and get used to seamlessly performing what is on your mind.