I’m classic TV fan. Give me any episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show any day. You don’t even have to go back that far. The Bill Cosby Show will do. There are even a few current TV shows that I really enjoy. The Big Bang would be one of those. I enjoy witty dialog. I even like acerbic dialog. Well, I like it when it’s on TV.
Have you ever noticed that cutting put-downs can be really funny? When I picture TV writers my mind flashes to those The Dick Van Dyke Show episodes. I picture updated versions of Rob, Buddy, and Sally sitting around coming up with just the perfect words. Those writers can come up with the perfect comeback—the remark that cuts the pompous fool right down to size. It’s hysterical. On TV.
Having met a few people who have perfected the art of the cutting put-down, I can tell you that it’s not nearly as funny in real life. Feelings get hurt.
Years ago, when our son was little, Full House was a family favorite. If you remember the show you’re likely to remember that Stephanie, the middle daughter, was continually looking at people and saying, “Duh!” On the show it garnered lots of laughter. Our son, always looking for a laugh, used it on me one day. Not so funny. I asked him if he knew what it meant when he said that to someone. Of course, he didn’t. When I told him that he was basically telling me I was stupid, he was mortified. He didn’t mean that. The use of that particular interjection was not welcome in our home.
Things like that are funny when they’re part of a scripted conversation. In real life? Not so much.