It’s one thing to think of the perfect comeback alone in the shower, weeks after the fact, but it’s something else entirely to think it up and let it loose right on the spot, just as it’s needed. It can be rare, but occasionally those synapses are firing just right and that perfect zinger presents itself at the perfect moment. Whether these Redditors were the ones taking the heat, dishing it out themselves, or simply bearing witness, they now have some killer clapbacks stored away for that perfect moment to present itself once again. Read on, and have your burn ointment at the ready
1. Don’t Mess With the Coupons
Working at a pizza shop, a troublesome customer tries to stack coupons that clearly state “One coupon per purchase.” After being refused by everyone in the restaurant, including the owner, he goes on a tirade saying that the District Attorney is his cousin, and was threatening a lawsuit. As he was heading for the door, he said, “You can’t afford to mess with me!”
I shouted after him, “You can’t afford a large pizza!”
2. Intergenerational Conflict
Heard an apprentice arguing with one of the older tradesmen at work. Tradesmen tells said apprentice he’s been doing this job since before the lad was born. Lad answers, “I’ll still be doing it long after you’re dead.”
3. Sorta Funny Lookin’
This one happened to me. I was with a bunch of friends a few years ago, and I had made some stupid joke. Cue this gem:
Me: “What can I say, I’m a funny guy!”
Friend: “Yes, but looks aren’t everything!”
Everyone cracked up, including me.
4. Not Getting Any Younger
My eight-year-old wins this one. We were moving to a new house from an apartment and I told her she would have more responsibilities (aka chores) when we moved because the house was bigger and she was old enough to do more chores.
Me: “Let’s make a list of the chores you can do when we move. When I was a kid my chores were…”
Her: (interrupting) “What? Churning the butter?”
5. Confidence Booster
Whole class was talking in Economics class with a substitute teacher who decided that she didn’t want us enjoying our lives in her abysmal presence. So she said that we were to work quietly and may only talk if we were discussing the work at hand. We were all in our last year of high school, so this was super unnecessary. At the time, we were studying the impacts of unemployment on an economy on a micro and macro scale.
Anyway, everyone slowly picked up the conversations again, but quiet at first. The table I was at with my mates were listening to one of the guys talk about how he went to visit his brand new niece who had only just been born. We were all joking around about something to do with the conversation (can’t remember now), but the teacher noticed we were getting a bit louder than the rest of the room so she called us out. “Table in the middle, that doesn’t sound like you are talking about economics.” I immediately replied with “Yes we are miss, his niece is unemployed.”
I didn’t think it was that funny, but the class all laughed, and one of the guys in the class I’ve known since childhood (but wasn’t close with) came up to me after class and said, “You’ve always been a pretty funny guy, but that was so quick and absolutely hilarious.” That compliment still means so much to me, as I have always wanted to be the funny guy, but don’t feel I usually am, and it meant a lot to have someone outside of my small friend group provide any sort of validation during a relatively lonely period of my life.
6. Just Bantering With the Best
I was at a John Oliver stand-up show, and he told a story about how one time before a show, a fan came up to him and gave him an entire bicycle. I don’t remember much more than that, but the whole bit was essentially how crazy and memorable and weird it was to be presented with an entire cycle by a stranger.
Sometime after this, I realllllly had to go to the bathroom. I was sitting in the front row and didn’t want to draw attention to myself (or miss anything) but I couldn’t wait, so I got up and started walking down the aisle towards the back. As I feared, Oliver noticed and called me out: “Oi, you! Where do you think you’re going?”
Without missing a beat I turned around and said, “Oh—to get your bike!” Everyone laughed, he laughed, I got to pee. It’s a good memory.
7. That Almost Got Ugly
Playing in band class one day. I am asked to play a section by the director and messed up a note or two. Eh, whatever, people make mistakes. Girl—who is kind of mean to everyone—in the row in front of me turns around to look at me, and condescending remarks “That wasn’t pretty.” I immediately respond, “Neither are you.”
8. Secret Santa Slaughter
Secret Santa gift exchange in college. One guy gets a collection of British currency (he liked to collect foreign bills and coins) and a girl makes a rude comment about it being a stupid gift. Cue my mouth running off before my brain can stop it, “Karen don’t be rude, he just didn’t want you to be the only one who gained 20 pounds this semester.”
Pandemonium ensued as her boyfriend tried to pick a fight while she bursts into tears, it was not the best day for the club.
9. Love at First Slight
The story of how my grandparents went on their first date has the greatest comeback ever. My grandpa was working a sub shop at the register. My grandma was in line (they’ve kind of met a few times in passing before) and she gets up to the register and my grandfather (attempting to hit on her) says, “How’d you get through life looking so ugly?” And my grandma replies, “I don’t know but you’ve been doing it longer than I have.”
And they’ve been happily married ever since.
10. From the Heart
Dating a girl in college, I was in second-year (19) and she was a grad student (26). She was really apprehensive about her looks and our age difference. One time we were cuddling and she said, “You shouldn’t be with me, you should be with someone young and beautiful and thin.” She set me up perfectly. I just wrapped my arms around her waist, looked her in the eyes very seriously, and said, “But honey, I don’t want someone who is young and beautiful and thin. I want you.”
She jabbed me in the ribs, and then laughed for 20 minutes.
11. Extra Tough Love
Idiot Friend: You can’t celebrate Christmas if you’re not a Christian, bro.
Me: You can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day if nobody loves you either, buddy…
12. Breakfast Champion
Years ago my significant other had dropped several hints that she wanted me to make breakfast one weekend. I didn’t pick up on the hints. So she gets up on a Saturday morning and is clearly annoyed. She’s making lots of noise, sighing a lot, closing doors really heard. At some point, I was just like “Oh my god it is 100% obvious that you’re annoyed so just tell me what’s up.”
She storms into the room and says, “How about breakfast? How about some fresh orange juice and maybe some freshly baked bread or rolls from the bakery? How about an omelet or some scrambled eggs?” I looked up and said, “Hmmm that sounds delicious. Thanks so much.”
13. Going Dutch
I was at a pub with some of my friends when a waitress brought us a bunch of tap water that we hadn’t ordered. She says they’re from that table and points to a table with a bunch of guys that eventually all came pooling over. They notice right away that my friends are Persian and start talking about their backgrounds and this one guy who was talking the most says that he’s Dutch.
Without thinking I said “That explains the waters,” and everyone did a bunch of “ooohs” and jumping all over each other laughing as I quickly wave that it was a joke. I grew up in a very Dutch-influenced community and have plenty of Dutch friends who are always joking about their parents’ thriftiness, so some may not get the joke.
On a side note, they said that they were trying to be creative, that girls always get drinks bought for them, so they wanted to stand out. It was cute, and we all had a good laugh.
14. Flying Colors
Working in aviation, we typically take FOD (foreign object debris) very seriously. One time a fellow coworker misplaced a tool in an aircraft we were working on. This began an “all hands on deck” mode where anyone with a pulse had to stop what they’re doing and look for the missing tool, including the supervisors. One supervisor who typically does paperwork got into the fuselage of the aircraft and said, “It smells like fuel in here” unironically.
I was searching around the nose area of the aircraft with a coworker, lifted the windshield wiper and started sniffing it and followed it with a “smells like windshield here.” My coworker died of laughter, I honestly didn’t think it was that funny to the point where I forgot about that moment. The same coworker told the story to me at a later time and told me that’s when she knew I was more than just a “quiet” guy.
Proud that she found it hilarious.
15. When the Stars Align
I was at a local brewery having a friendly discussion with some other regulars. All of a sudden, one of the girls starts going off about astrology. I make a comment about how I don’t think it’s accurate or useful and she starts trying to convince me otherwise. Suggesting that she could tell me a lot about myself based on my sign.
Her: “What’s your sign?”
Her: “That’s not a real thing.”
Me: “Neither is astrology.”
Got a pretty good laugh from everyone else.
16. Mic Drop
Professor to student: “You’re not very far from a fool.” Student to professor: “No ma’am just two rows of chairs and a desk.” Then he stood up, left the room, and dropped her class.
17. International Incident
Partner is Aussie, we are going to visit his parents in Perth and his dad made a joke saying he was going to put cocaine in my bag to get me in trouble. My reply: “Didn’t know being a criminal was still a requirement to get in.” Been living off that for days.
18. Getting Too Old for This
I was with friends in a movie theater and, while I forgot what the movie was, it was apparent we were the oldest people watching it. While waiting for the previews to start, someone in the back makes a noise. Then someone repeats the noise; then, two more…and so on. I said out loud, “Jeeze, this is getting old.”
When it all died down, a young’un a couple rows behind me said, “So are you.” Touché.
19. Sibling Slaughter
I was adopted at four months old. It was never presented in a bad light, just a matter of fact. I’m the oldest in my adopted family. My younger brother in a raging fit over something: “YOU’RE NOT MY REAL BROTHER!!” Me: “Yep. Mom and Dad chose me. They were stuck with you.” Silence.
20. The Student Becomes the Master
Senior year of high school I took AP English, not sure why but I did. The AP English teacher and I got along swimmingly; we both had similar senses of humor and cynical views of the world. Great guy. He was around 30 years old, grew up in the South but moved to Montana to get away, became a Buddhist, started balding, and found a wife. He just became a father, too.
Well anyways, he had my sister in normal English, and he had heard from other teachers that I was a little loud and Irish so I think he felt very comfortable with me from the start. I want to say the third or fourth week of school we were discussing Metamorphosis and I was the only one in the class that made the argument that helping other people was bad because then they were reliant upon you. I was trolling, and my teacher poked fun at me for it in front of the class. I didn’t mind at all, but he apologized in front of the class and told everyone that I could make fun of him once in payback.
Flash forward eight months to the last week of school. We had already taken the AP test so we were just doing some stupid paper. My teacher said he’d give us extra credit if we spoke in front of the class, so I was the first one up. I wasn’t nervous at all in all honesty, but I started off poorly and started to stumble. My teacher glances over to me and says “See class, talking in front of you ain’t easy,” to which I responded “Yeah, I’d go bald too”
I’ve never seen my teacher laugh so hard, nor an entire class laugh so hard. He commended me on my timing, seeing how I waited eight months. It was no hard feelings, and he’s probably my favorite teacher I’ve ever had.
21. Granny’s Got Game
My mom was asking about my daughter and her boyfriend. “Are they going to get married? I’m just not ready to be a great-grandmother.” “Well, you could try being a good one, first.”
22. Holy Moly
Guy walks into my bar with brown robes on. I ask, “What’s with the robes, you just get out of a Renaissance Faire?” He replies, “No, I’m a Carmelite priest.” I exclaim “I’ll be damned.” He answers “I hope not.” He totally got me in front of the whole bar.
23. Below the Belt
Not me, but a friend of mine. As students, a group of townies was shouting abuse at us. My buddy shouted abuse back and one of them said, “You’re playing a dangerous game—do you know who my dad is?” My friend responded, “No—do you?”
24. A Brief Intermission
My then-girlfriend and I were arguing over something petty. She told me, “You’re heartless.” I responded, “Only because you stole it.” She went “awww,” and then straight back into argue-mode.
25. Third-Degree Burns
At Thanksgiving one year, my whole family was sitting around talking, and winning contests came up. One of my brothers looked at me and snarked, “Oh yeah, what was the last thing you ever won?” I looked around the room at all my blood relatives and answered: “By the looks of it, the genetic lottery.”
26. Clean Up Your Act
At a party. My cousin was once boasting how much his new girlfriend changed him. Him: “She is so great. Because of her, I learned so many new words.” Me: “Like ‘water’ and ‘soap’?”
27. Clapbacks For Kids
I had just turned seven the day before and I was in the car with my mom and brother after school. My brother and mom were arguing over something and my mom said, “I wasn’t born yesterday!” to my brother. I replied saying, “I was!” It was a good day.
28. Tactical Strike
I was arguing with an Air Force Colonel who thought I answered to him. I told him legally he had no authority over me. He said I was being insubordinate. I replied, “I can’t be insubordinate if I’m not your subordinate.”
29. Straight as an Arrow, Dumb as Rocks
Back in the day, I had to deal with one of those ridiculous tools that thought it was a hilarious burn to call somebody gay. He found out that I did quite well academically at school and said, “That makes sense, most gay guys are smart.” To which I responded, “If that’s the case, you must be the straightest guy I’ve ever met.”
30. Runs in The Family
I’m an engineering freshman this year. My brother, who’s a sophomore, changed majors from Engineering to Flight this semester after failing a course or two. When we were home for Spring Break we were casually teasing each other and he just says, “You’re dumb.” I put on a fake pout and said, “Dang you’re right, guess I’m gonna have to be a pilot now.”
31. Them’s The Breaks
I was the dealer on a roulette table.
Customer: What do I get if the ball lands in a number beside the one I bet on?
Me: My condolences.
32. Better Get Used to It
This one guy was hitting on me in middle school. He asked if I wanted to go on a date with him. I told him no. He said, “I won’t take no for an answer.” I said, “Well you should, because you’ll be hearing it a lot.”
33. Playing Dirty
Not the greatest, but I was proud of myself for how quick I was. My sister was cleaning out her room the other week and basically left bags of old clothes and garbage in the living room in the process. So, of course, her room was now spotless but the rest of the house was a disaster. When I told her she was messy as all hell, she argued, “Messy? Have you seen my room?”
I answered: “How couldn’t I? It’s all over the house.”
34. On The Nose
A friend said, “My nose has been running for the past six days,” and I blurted out “Well, it might, but it does not look like it’s getting thinner.” It took me ages to make her forgive me.
I called my friend at two in the afternoon and he answered very groggily. So I say, “Hey man were you sleeping?” He goes “yes and no…” Confused, I reply “were you taking a Schrodinger’s Cat nap?” I got nothing from him for that line. Wasted.
36. Don’t let Me Hit You on the Way Out
Back in the first year of high school, some older guy blocks me and says, “You can’t pass, I’m a wall.” I replied: “Well I’m a door,” and just passed beside him. Not sure how I was able to keep my cool given how much bigger he was.
37. Stone Cold Killer
I have used this many times when a customer or another person is yelling, and I mean a complete meltdown. Just blaming you for everything they can think of and doing so loudly, inappropriately. Don’t say anything, don’t react just let them tire themselves out. Then when they finally say “What you don’t have anything to say?” wait a moment or two and say, “You have just embarrassed yourself” and nothing more.
This works especially well when the person is older than you. I have done this about four times in a 10-year span, and it is devastating for much, much longer than you would expect.
38. Ran Right Into That One
Not mine but a friend’s. It was a Friday night, a friend from another country (let’s call him “Sam”) had just arrived by car to my friend’s place (let’s call him “Max”), and we were chatting, waiting for Max before unloading the car (he was going to sleep at Max’s place for a few days). Max came down and did a Starsky-and-Hutch move where he slid on the front of the car. No damage was done to the car and everybody was okay with it.
The problem was, a police car that was passing by stopped and two cops came out. They asked us what we were doing and asked for Max’s ID. We explained that it was Sam’s car, that no harm was done, they checked our IDs and everything was okay but they wouldn’t drop it: they wanted to teach a lesson. The conversation went like this:
Cop: “Even if it’s your friend’s car you shouldn’t do that, even as a joke. I’m sure you’d be annoyed if someone jumped on your car, right?”
Max: “I don’t have a car.”
Cop: “Well, you wouldn’t like it if he jumped on your PlayStation then, right?”
Max: “I don’t have a PlayStation either.”
Cop: “Okay then what do you have?”
Max: “A trampoline.”
Cop: “And I bet you wouldn’t like it if he jumped on your…”
Just as the cop realized where he had been baited to, he went silent, visibly mad, and they got back in their car and left. That was a splendid comeback.
39. Cheap but Effective
One of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever witnessed was from a friend of mine who had blacked out drunk on the sofa at a party and had been basically unconscious for over an hour. Other friend walks in and lets us know that some of the girls we know are coming, one who my friend didn’t like. He shouts out, “Hey Chris, your girlfriend will be here soon”
He rolls over eyes still closed and grumbles out, “I didn’t know your mum went out this late.” Rolls over back to sleep.
40. Don’t Mess With the Best
Once, when I was seven and, admittedly, often obnoxiously precocious, my grandparents had been showing off my vocabulary and spelling skills to various aunts, uncles, and cousins. One of my uncles, a known joker and all-around funny guy, thought he’d get one up on me. “Can you say antidisess–antidissestab–antidis–” he tried for a good while to ask me if I could say “antidisestablishmentarianism,” hoping to stump me.
Little me calmly watched him fumble this word for a good dozen or so tries before interrupting him with, “Can you?” 25 years later, my family still bring up the one time our smart-ass, practical joker uncle was thrown for a loop by a first grader.
41. Well That Escalated
I was always super quiet growing up and got teased a LOT. There was a kid who would always get on the bus and ask me what time he should pick me up for our date and snicker with his friend. I’m not even sure where I heard it or why I said it but one day I decided to reply instead of ignoring it. I said, “5 o’clock, you bring the handcuffs, I have the whip.” Dead. Silence.
The kid never said another word to me, even years later when I took my driving test and he was there too. I wished him luck and he wouldn’t talk to me. I can only imagine how shocked he was because like I said, I was super quiet normally and an easy target.
42. Not Bad New Girl
How to make a best friend for life! It was 2001 and I was in 5th grade. My dad did my ponytails in the morning and they were not cute. As I was walking away from my classmates I overheard my bully laughing and saying, “Her hair is messed up in the back” and the new girl in school shouted back to her, “Well your face is messed up in the front.”
God that was awesome. I’ll never forget that as long as I live and we’re still friends to this day.