The Art of Insult – Repartée

These are so wonderful that we tracked down the source of such splendidness to a book: Viva la Repartee: Clever Comebacks and Witty Retorts from History’s Great Wits and Wordsmiths.

1. Thomas Reed vs. Henry Clay.


2. Winston Churchill vs. Lady  Astor.


3. NYC Mayor Ed Koch vs. Andrew Kirtzman, after the reporter insisted on pressing a point about an inconsistent statement Koch had made.


4. Groucho Marx vs. A  contestant on You Bet Your Life, after the  contestant revealed that he was a father of 10.


5. Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen  Douglas, after Douglas called him two-faced during a debate.


6. Pierre Trudeau vs. Richard  Nixon, upon hearing that Nixon had called him an asshole.


7. Oscar Wilde vs. Lewis Morris Morris had just been passed over for the Poet Laureateship.


8. Miriam Hopkins vs. An anonymous singer


9.  James McNeill Whistler vs.  Oscar Wilde, after Whistler had made a particularly witty  observation.

10. Senator Fritz Hollings vs. Henry McMastor, when challenged by his Republican opponent during a televised debate to take a drug test.




  1. carol smith says

    :What do you think of Western Civilization?” Gandhi was asked.
    “i think it would be a very good idea.” Gandhi replied.

  2. I love this collection of witicism. Reminds me that there used to be clever people who were well educated and were not afraid to be so when they had the ear of the public.

    • Ooh, well put, Caroline Reid! The Art of Liberating Insult, the sacred teachigs of reposte, repartee, badinage, Groucho Marx, the craft of story-telling are part of the Trickster’s essential repertoire…to which Coyote Network News is dedicated in myriad forms (Trickster Training Council being one form of this on-going experiment.)

  3. Lovely collection of the best of the best! Thanks…

  4. So adorable

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