The Art of a (Good) Insult

The Art of a (Good) Insult
Reading Time: 6 minutes

I have a cousin who Americans will aptly call an Arsehole. 

In every sense of that word. He is proud, spiteful, arrogant, vile and the most despicable being I know.

Other than his mother, I don’t know anybody who gives a damn about him. His mere presence had a way of giving one nauseous heady rush, a gag reflex, and blood pressure if you suffer from that. I never anyone smile in his presence, and anytime he came and he left, nobody talked about him, the way you talk about that long lost cousin. 

Most of us, only started dealing with him when he came back from abroad, where he had been away for close to a decade. By abroad, I mean India. And Indian graduates used to occupy the lowest rung in the social ladder of educated men. But the arrogant cousin behaves as if he went to Cambridge.

He has a way of belittling you to a point of nothingness.

When he left, we were young. And when he came back, we were in our youth. Whereas he knew who we were, he had a way of asking, “wewe ni mtoto wa nani?”

He would ask with such asinine authority, with a contemptuous look on the face, like our noses were laden with mucus, especially the yellowy, thick type. And when he knew who we were, we thought he knew us, he would still pull the arsehole move of confusing our names (on purpose), and to him, all of us were supposed to be Robert, the name of our eldest bro. And when he got to know the names of two bros, he would call any male member of the family any of the two names. Look at it this way, you are five brothers; Robert, Eric, Frank, David, and Peter. And he claimed to only know Robert and Eric, and anytime, he met Frank, David, and Peter, he would either call them Robert or Eric, that is if he didn’t pretend that he didn’t know them and would ask “we ni wa nani?

It is not the asking, but the way he did it that had a way of reducing you on where you stood to nothingness. You will stand looking to the ground wishing that it swallowed you. Your toe will burrow the ground, crying. He has a tall imposing body, broad shoulders, fat cheeks, big head, it gives him some air of a foolish important man. Think of a politician who started as an unschooled mayor of a city. 

For small talk, he would resort to the small talk to the refuge of every adult of asking children their class position in the last examination. And the bastard will not even bother to listen. 

As we grew older and started paying our bills, nobody had audience for his belligerence. And happily, he disappeared from our lives. Last time I saw him was in a dingy downtown pub, with an oversized coat, some ten years ago. And he was with guys and I wondered who exactly finds his company fascinating? I have never had a conversation with him, beyond him asking me for the millionth time who my father is?

Good riddance.

A good insult

For all his stupidity, we all decided to take it in good humour. And often when we meet as cousins, it is not uncommon to act like we don’t know each other. It is the worst insult. I dare you to pull it on a close relative or friend you don’t meet frequently…Next time you meet, act like you don’t know them? They will catch a fit, I guarantee.

Because we all hate being taken for granted. We all hate being made to feel useless about ourselves.

That is why it is insulting. That is why people get annoyed when they call you to find that you don’t have their number or can’t recognize their voice.

I love a good insult

I love a good insult, intended or not. As long as the other party can recognize the art in the insult. Here is how my favourite writer Nelson DeMille starts Chapter 2 of his book, The Panther:

“If Earth had an anus, it would be located in Yemen.”

First time I read that, I paused and marveled at its originality.

When I read books, I am always looking for that one insult that will make stop and toast.

Then, there is my guy, Jeremy Clarkson, former Top Gear host, and presently with Amazon’s Grand Tour, who is the master of a good insult (some find his insults cheap, but it is the type likely to overrate their sophistication). At his most crude, Clarkson, can unleash some good ones.

Here is Clarkson describing Norfolk town in the UK:

“Then, when you get there and you are sitting around in the hotel lobby waiting for the local man to stop being a window cleaner, gynaecologist and town crier and be a receptionist for a while, you pick a copy of Norfolk Life. It is the World’s smallest magazine.”

He was describing how backward Norfolk is after attending a wedding there. And he was not done…

“The next time some friends get married in Norfolk, I’ll send a telegram. Except it won’t get there because they haven’t heard of the telephone yet. Or paper. Or ink.”

And this is what he said of the Welsh language.

“I think we are fast approaching the time when the United Nations should start to think seriously about abolishing other languages. What’s the point of Welsh, for example? All it does is provide a silly maypole around which a bunch of hotheads can get all nationalistic.”

Prezzo and Jaguar

Perhaps my favourite beef is the Prezzo and Jaguar one. It was a one-sided beef that Prezzo won, hands-down. It started around nine years ago when Jaguar had released Nimetoka Mbali (probably penned by AY and possibly one of the greatest songs in Kenya in the last 20 years). Prezzo, who was or is the king of showbiz, and who has lived the myth and acted it, had this way of bragging that he was the king of the bling back in the day. Jaguar had an issue with this and decided to take a swipe at Prezzo.

Then one evening, during Hits Not Homework, Eve D’Souza calls Prezzo and asks him, what is the beef. And man, did Prezzo pull a fast one, so calmly, so cheeky. After Eve asked Prezzo about Jaguar disputing his status as the King of Bling, this is what Prezzo said…

“First things first, who is Jaguar, because, you know, honestly, the only Jaguar I know, is the car…And you know like, he said that my time for flossing is over? Well.  You know what? I hope he had a good time saying that, I just let my things speak for themselves…and if this Jago-you said? (Jaguar, D’Souza says), I hope he had a good time…”

Then he went on, to say that he doesn’t know whether Jaguar is a musician, politician, or an acrobat (Man, this got a standing ovation from me). Eve was speechless. He said he is a heavyweight and Jaguar is a featherweight. And he said that Jaguar had “childish aggression”. And ended the call, with Eve asking him, if he knows his name and Prezzo, did his thing, (Jaho, Jago…), and he said, “his thong is too tight, he needs to adjust it…ask him, ‘Anataka Nini’-a reference to his (Prezzo’s) song with Madtraxx.

Eve then called Jaguar, who blabbered from his mouth. You could actually feel him frothing and gave such a weak-ass response and given Prezzo has a heavier, authoritative voice, Jaguar’s annoying tenor (you can clearly see my bias), felt so weak and wacky. The only worthwhile swipe he took at Prezzo, was saying he said the only song he liked or remembered was, the one he did with Nazizi (Let’s Get Down). The rest was just a moralistic ranting down, not worth anybody’s time.

Listen to the entire six-minute, listen to how calm Prezzo feigns ignorance and throws quick jabs on Jaguar

Prezzo was never done with Jaguar. In January 2016, Prezzo was the guest at the popular Betty Kyalo’s Friday Briefing at KTN, somewhat intoxicated with something hard stuff.

Betty asked him, what is the beef with Jaguar, Prezzo asked,

“Like the car, I don’t the guy, I only knew him after he took the photo with my friend, the president (look at how it twists it), and I asked people in the background who is this guy?”

He actually acted like he can’t say the name…He went on to say that President Uhuru, did Jaguar a favour, because, President Uhuru is Prezzo’s friend.

And then when it came to reading the news segment, as Betty did his guests, Prezzo asked:

“Do you think Jaguar can read this?”

Listen from the 12.25 point to the end of what is billed one of the most disastrous Live Shows in Kenya. 

Prezzo versus Colonel Mustafa

On June 2017, on Will M Tuva, Prezzo requested for two minutes to clarify an issue, and it is how he started it that is funny.

“Kuna jamaa wale waliimbanga ile…awa…huyu alikuwa na Nasty Tomas, lile kundi lilikuwa linaitwa aje…”

“Colonel Mustafa,” replied Will M Tuva…

Then he went on to say that Mustafa has been released unlistenable songs, Mustafa should go to the president and confess his career is in ICU and should seek help, not beef, and he should just request Prezzo to just mention his name and maybe that can jolt his career back to action.

Listen to how he throws shade at Colonel Mustafa. 


Why I love Prezzo, is how he uses that like of “sikujui”, hence you are not worth my time, before he crashes you, like you will step on a cockroach malicious. 

The same applies to Wrestling marches, even the insults are scripted. I never used that wrestling was so much fun until I discovered that the scripts are some of the best written. 

Last year, after writing an article about Kisii women desperate for husbands/boyfriends, following a viral Facebook group where women would post their pics and declare their relationship status. Upon writing the article, I was in the receiving end of the ire of Kisii woman. One of them called me: a pregnant mouse. 

That humbled me. 

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