Sarcastic Jokes that Harm, Versus Witty Jokes that Heal

Laced with sarcasm, a gag can blow up in your face. Rimmed with wit, it might defuse a tense moment. Here are some common scenarios. You’re welcome.

By Andy Simmons



Wedding Cake

Graham Roumieu for Reader’s Digest

Scenario 5: Your wife is mad at you

Sarcastic joke that harms: Fling this Bill Maher joke back at her: “Women cannot complain about men anymore until they start getting better taste in them.”

Witty joke that heals: This Wanda Sykes riff lets her know you get it—you’re a pain: “They say marriage is a contract. No, it’s not. Contracts come with warranties. When something goes wrong, you can take it back to the manufacturer. If your husband starts acting up, you can’t take him back to his mama’s house. ‘I don’t know, he just stopped working. He’s just lying around making a funny noise.’”

Scenario 6: Uh-oh, someone wants to discuss the Middle East

Sarcastic joke that harms: Jay Leno pours gas on the flames: “An Israeli man’s life was saved when he was given a Palestinian man’s heart in a heart-transplant operation. The guy is doing fine, but the bad news is he can’t stop throwing rocks at himself.”

Witty joke that heals: On the other hand, Leno suggests finding a common enemy: “Madonna is looking to buy a home in Israel, and today the PLO told Israel, ‘OK, you can have the land back.’”

Graham Roumieu for Reader's Digest

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