The dozens, snaps, burns, whatever you want to call it, ritualized insult sparring has been around for many years. The Turks have practiced the art, known as Snashi, since at least the 7th century AD. The Romans were known to incorporate "oratorum subtractuli" - or "spoken subtraction" - into many of their plays and epics.
Modern combatants frequently face off at school, parties, the office and pretty much any casual gathering. There is an art to snapping just as there is a science to rhyming, and the well-prepared participant will have an edge over those who only snap on the weekends.
Yo momma so stupid when the printer asked for toner she did pushups! Lesson 1: Basic Snaps
Constructing a basic snap is as simple as constructing a sentence. The basic snap format is as follows:
Your ___noun___ is so ___adjective___ that he/she/they/it's ___burn___!
Your rectangle is so parallel that it's square!
That snap isn't going to hurt anyone's feelings unless geometry is turning racist, but the point of this exercise is simply to examine the general snap format. The final blank, the burn, needs to tie the noun and the adjective together and it must be insulting. It can be a single word or it can be several words. Let's take a look at what a functional basic snap might look like:
Your mother is so fat that her shirt has high cholesterol!
Not bad, but it still seems a bit unwieldy. Let's see what removing "is" and "that" can do to improve the efficiency of that snap:
Your mother so fat her shirt has high cholesterol!
Let's go one more step and streamline "your" to "yo", "mother" to "momma" and see if we can find a punchier version of the same burn:
Yo momma so fat her shirt diabetic!
That's shorter, but our first version of the burn is probably better. Shortest isn't always best, even when we're just talking about basic snaps. Let's look at a few more sample snaps.
Yo family so poor they landlord a parking meter!
Yo momma so ugly she scare ghosts out haunted houses!
Yo daddy so stupid he got lost in yo bathroom!
Try a few of your own. When you feel like you're ready, let's move on to Advanced Snaps.
Lesson 2: Advanced Snaps
Yo momma so ugly when she met with our clients from McMillan they ended up sub-contracting with turds they found in the toilet! Many basic snaps are already either taken or so similar to other snaps that they're not really worth using. A true master of the dozens will frequently employ advanced snaps that use burns that force the victim to think for a second. Forcing them to "interpret" the burn wastes their precious comeback time, but it's a fine line. Make them think too hard and your snap might be considered a failure.
Let's look at two different versions of the same advanced snap and try to determine which is superior:
Yo momma so nasty she turn a swimming pool to vinegar.
Yo momma so nasty she turn a hotdog to a pickle.
You might think that the obvious answer is the swimming pool to vinegar, but that is incorrect. That is a borderline basic burn and it's not a particularly good one. The hotdog to a pickle one is the same essential meaning, but it makes the victim stop and think about what it means.
Let's take a look at a series of Advanced "Yo momma" Snaps:
Yo momma so fat you visit Map Quest to see her good side.
Yo momma so ugly her face sink a thousand ships.
Yo momma so stupid she saw a stop sign and she died.
Yo momma so nasty Saddam bury her in the desert.
Yo momma so poor she think air is a food group.
Get a feel for the Advanced Snaps method before moving on. When you're ready, proceed to Mega Snaps.
Lesson 3: Mega Snaps
Yo momma so fat when she read the annual report she ate the pie charts! Mega Snaps are the endgame of snaps. They should only be deployed if you are either about to finish your opponent or if you are nearing the point of defeat yourself. They are risky and some (one type in particular) can have repercussions beyond the arena of the dozens.
The most dangerous sub-category of the Mega Snap is the Inside Snap, in which you use information that is personally damaging to your opponent as part of your snap. These snaps are so potent that they need not follow the usual format. Using an Inside Snap can devastate your foe like no other snap, but it can have consequence once you're done with the dozens.
Below are three examples of Inside Snaps, see if you can spot what the consequences of using these snaps might be:
Yo momma so fat that you was raped in prison by a Mexican named Phillipe.
Yo momma so ugly that when she wake up she realize that you sold all her appliance to feed yo junk habit.
Yo family so poor that when they eat dinner they forced to confront the fact that their only son killed a child.
A Master can deflect even the Inside Snap, but most are so shaken by the revelation that they can hardly formulate a response. Just remember to use caution when employing the Inside Snap and never use the Inside Snap on a friend.
If you're dominating your opponent, you may wish to show your disdain for their skills by using the Lazy Snap. This is hidden snap, of sorts, because the insult is actually the exceedingly low quality of the snap. This is achieved by replacing the burn with an explanation of the adjective rather than an insult. The longer and worse you make the explanation for the adjective, the better the Lazy Snap.
Yo momma so fat that she have to buy size 60 pants cuz she ate all them donuts.
Yo momma so ugly that she have to shave her lip and she use a straight razor cuz electric razor get all clogged up by her hair on that lip.
The Lazy Snap might work great if you're on top of the situation, but you never want to use a Lazy Snap to dig yourself out of a hole. For that, you reserve the most dangerous and unstable of all of the snaps: the Crazy Eyes Snap. Stare intensely at your foe and deliver a snap that sounds like it might make sense, but actually makes no sense whatsoever. Most of the time this snap will fail to impress, but occasionally it will overwhelm your opponent with its illogical nature.
Yo momma so nasty she fall asleep outside and Indian tribe livin' in her.
Yo momma so fat her glass eye a cherry Jolly Rancher.
Yo momma so stupid when she see a don't walk sign she start rollin'.
Yo momma so ugly when she look in a mirror she see a robot lookin' back.
The Crazy Eyes Snap is as much about confidence as it is about the snap itself. As long as you can make it sound like a crushing snap there's a chance, however slim, that it will be taken as such.
I hope you have learned enough about snapping to hold your own around the watercooler and in the boardroom in the coming days. Snapping is a difficult thing to master and, if you do master snapping, you must remember that with great power comes you momma on a jet ski. You can't see me, but I'm making intense crazy eyes right now.
Transgressive author Chuck Palahniuk is here to help with tips and tricks to hacking your life.
Not what I had in mind when I ordered an Italian gondolier. This is literally just a tiny toy. Needless to say, the Italian businessmen were not impressed and I looked like a damn fool. We lost the pizza pie account and will have to lay off half our factory.
Time to applaud the man who applauds in a loop until the end of time.
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