Artful Insults and Friendly Teasing

Every group of people has an understood method of teasing and insults.  When done within the established framework, they are meant to be a harmless yet amusing way of interacting with one another.

For example, my immediate family have a whole host of inside jokes that get brought out when we are together.  Many of these are based on humorous past situations.  For example, my mother has a distinctive way of saying the word “crap” which my sister and I tend to request when we are around.  (Mom, I don’t mean to call you out specifically, but this is an easy example.)  We know each other well enough that if someone does something that truly bothers them, we don’t turn it into a joke.  Everything else, including getting sick on the side of the road, is fair game.

My coworkers and I like to push each other’s buttons.  It’s a different kind of teasing, but it’s still done in good fun.  As part of the point is the person’s reaction, I try to play along when it’s my turn to be poked.  Recently they’ve taken up the dinosaur flag, intentionally saying things like “all flying dinosaurs are pterodactyls” to which I groan and drop my head.  I’ll spare you the reasons why this in inaccurate; just know that it bothers me, although less than I act for my friends.

My best friend is particularly gifted at a type of artful insults that is sometimes called reading.  He can read a person quickly, assess their weaknesses, and then give a well-turned insult that entertains everyone else in the room.  Often the insult is so well said that the person receiving it can’t help but laugh, too.  As the goal of this is to both amuse others and get a reaction, there are two great types of reads.  One is to pick at something the person is insecure about, and the other is to find the thing they value most about themselves and target that.  Jack is particularly adept at knowing what will get a reaction, as well as how to word the read for the most effective entertainment.  Unlike Jack, I am not good at reading.

It’s fun to use this kind of friendly teasing and even reading in your writing.  One way to help develop or establish the friendship between characters is to let them interact in this way, as it is something that everyone does to some extent with their own friends.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 15:39:51

    You know you’ve reached a great stage of friendship when you can verbally abuse each other all day, no harm done. (:
    And it sounds like this Jack guy has got a great gift!


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