Escalator Wit, and The Plan of Action

Hey friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

A few days ago, a lad approached me as I was leaving the gym, and complimented me on how much I was squatting earlier, saying that it was his max and that he was impressed, etc.
The interaction was completely unexpected and caught me off guard, so all I could do was just smile and say “Nah man, it’s nothing, nah nah”, before he eventually left

Afterwards, I realised just how boring, slow, and uninteresting I was.
In the heat of the moment, I only denied his compliments and forgot to say anything else. I didn’t even thank him for taking the time to express this, nor could I reflect a compliment back at him.

This little interaction yesterday has honestly made me self-reflect and think why am I so slow-witted and dull-minded. Most people around me (from my experience anyway) have just the sharpest and quickest wits, and can instantly think of hilarious, warm, and kind things to say in any given moment.

I did a little bit of research afterwards (and by research I mean a 4 second Google search), and I found this is usually called ‘escalator wit’, or ‘staircase wit’. It’s derived from a French term, and describes the predicament where you think of the perfect reply just too late. These epiphanies happen usually in the escalator or on the staircase as you’re leaving the conversation, hence the terms.

Honestly, I really wish I could think more quickly on my feet. I admire people who have sharp wits and fast mental agility, they’re usually really charismatic and can attract other people around them like a magnet. It’s honestly pretty impressive how much you can do with a good wit.

And so after some asking around and information hunting, I’ve gathered some possible things you can do that can apparently help with this, and improve your ability to think fast for a witty comeback, compliment, or reply. (Of course, this is all supposed to be anecdotal🙃).

  • Literally just practice.
  • Surround yourself with witty and articulate people, and you’ll get some of their qualities soon enough (this includes listening to podcasts or even watching shows). Most people here in Ireland grew up watching and listening to some of the most hilarious and charismatic people, so it’s not a big surprise they’re quite humorous and quick-witted. They also grew up in a sort of ‘slagging’ culture, so I suppose you needed to have a sharp wit if you wanted to survive 🙃
  • For compliments specifically, just say thanks. Don’t overthink it, thank the person for taking time to express the compliment, then reflect a question back at them. For example, I easily could’ve asked “Have you been lifting for long? Ah sure you’ll surpass me in no time like” etc.
  • As stupid as it sounds, practice responses for different scenarios. The most common way I’ve heard people do this is just by practicing in front of a mirror. Practise conversations and taking compliments, from what I heard, boosts your social ability pretty drastically.

Some of the more technical ways of finding humour in situations, include:

-Juxtaposition. Frame mundane things as insane and mind blowing moments.

– Pattern-breaking. Put something in a pattern which clearly doesn’t belong.

-Left-Hand turn stories, which have a hilariously unexpected twist at the end.

-Power of specificity. Focussing on the specifics and questioning them.

-Doubling down on jokes and making them more absurd.

-Asking rhetorical questions that assume something absurd.

-Playfully misinterpreting things.

-Recontextualise, change context of normal things people take for granted.

^All this stuff was taken after spiralling down a Charisma on Command rabbit hole for a few hours. Honestly though his channel has some great content, would highly recommend.

All in all, it’s definitely important to remember to never force humour; it’ll only come out as awkward and trying way too hard. Simply finding moments to naturally point something funny out should be good enough I suppose.

Cool, that’ll probably do it for this post. Thanks for reading if you made it this far, I’ll hopefully see you in another post👋🏼

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