…Is it is about the wit, not the insult. For the uninformed (Michelle Wolf) here is the definition of “wit”:
2 a : sense 2a —usually used in plural
- alone and warming his five wits, the white owl in the belfry sits
- —Alfred Tennyson3 a : astuteness of perception or judgment : acumenb : the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amusec (1) : a talent for banter or persiflage(2) : a witty utterance or exchanged : clever or apt humor
4 a : a person of superior intellect : thinkerb : an imaginatively perceptive and articulate individual especially skilled in banter or persiflage
Additionally, insult humor only works when delivered with genuine affection. (Please note I said “affection,” not “agreement” and pay very close attention to the adjective.) When it comes with a mean spirit it is just ugly, tasteless, and not funny.
Oh, and one other thing – profanity is not a punch line and laughter can be a way to disguise discomfort at tastelessness.
I am not a prude. I can still, decades later, recite George Carlin’s bits on the s*word and the “Seven words you can never say on television” (which you now can) from heart. They were actually witty. I do not automatically find attempts at humor containing profanity or referencing the unmentionable unfunny, but if you are going to use them you need to build the joke around them, not use them for the cheap laugh.