Whether you call it banter, snappy repartee or slammin’ we can all appreciate the intelligence one must have who can take an insult and quickly turn it against the person who delivered it. These people are not only great verbally, but have quick minds that are able to seize the moment and turn it to their advantage. Here are some favorite examples from history.
When Mr. Churchill was caught sleeping during the member’s long-winded speech the angry MP shouted, “Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep while I’m speaking?” To which Churchill dryly replied, “No, it’s purely voluntary.”
2. Mayor Ed Koch (NYC) and a reporter
The reporter pressed the mayor and what he thought was an inconsistent statement. To which the Mr. Koch replied, “I can explain this to you; I can’t comprehend it for you.”
3. John Wilkes and John Montagu (British Politicians)
Montagu: Sir, I do not know if you will die on the gallows or of the pox.
Wilkes: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.
4. Ilka Chase (Writer) and an Anonymous Actress
Actress: I enjoyed reading your book. Who wrote it for you?
Chase: Darling, I’m so glad that you liked it. Who read it to you?
5. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas
During one of their debates, Douglas said that Lincoln was “two-faced.” Looking out to the crowd Lincoln replied, “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”
6. Reverend Edward Everett Hale and the U.S. Senate
A senator asked Hale if he prayed for the Senators. Hale immediately responded, “No. I look at the Senators and Pray for the country.”
7. Babe Ruth and the Reporter
Babe Ruth made $80,000 in 1930 and 1931, the height of the depression. The Yankees tried to get him to reduce his salary but he held out. When a reporter mentioned that Babe’s salary was $5000 more than that of President Herbert Hoover, Ruth replied, “Maybe so, but I had a better year than he did.”
8. Winston Churchill and Lady Astor
Never on friendly terms, this famous altercation took place at a dinner party.
Astor: Winston, if you were my husband I’d put poison in your coffee.
Churchill: Nancy, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.
Perhaps you have a favorite story or quote along these lines. Feel free to leave it in the comment section.