Recovery Lines For When You Bomb A Routine

Sometimes when you’re teasing and negging you end up pushing just a little too hard and the routine bombs. Instead of coming across as a playful jerk, you just seem to be an ass. So you need a recovery line to get back on track.
It’s the same sort of thing that stand up comics use when a joke dies. The joke is flat and no one laughs, but they have a bunch of preplanned recovery jokes and they throw one of those out and the failed joke actually becomes part of the structure of the one that works. Jay Leno is probably one of the best comics at doing this out there. I mean so many of his jokes are bad, his primary comedic skill is bad joke recovery.
The trick is to keep your frame that you’re still a playful fun guy. You do this for the same reason comedians don’t immediately roll over and apologize for being bad comedians for a single bad joke. If they break their frame that they are in fact funny, the audience senses weakness and it’s all over for the comic. So you must keep your frame that you’re fun and playful.
My favorite recovery line is some variation on…
“Oh that was a little much, I really should apologize for that… but… but I can’t….”
They always ask “Why?”
Then I say, with a big cheesy playful grin, “Because I’m obnoxious.” 
They always laugh, I’ve maintained frame, I’ve established than I’m an ass and ultimately not trying to mess them up, just play with them a little. It’s disarming because their actual complaint amounts to the fact that you have been obnoxious and that was offensive to them. But you already admit to it, so there’s nothing they need to push against because you straight up admitted you were obnoxious.
Then having admitted to being obnoxious, you obviously can’t apologize, because… well… you’re obnoxious.
Then ignore the mild whoopsie and move on in the conversation.
So what are your best recovery lines?


  1. Anonymous says:

    How about something as simple as smiling in a smug way, telling them to come over to you, giving them a kiss on the cheek, maybe a squeeze of the ass to show you're playing and then telling them to stop being so serious.

  2. Anonymous says:

    My husband's best recovery line comes from a movie (as most of the lines do at our house). He says "There is no charge for awesomeness" from Kung Fu Panda. Dumb, I know, but I can't help laughing and the irritation quickly evaporates.

  3. Athol Kay says:

    I like the Kung Fu Panda one Anon. I could totally do that one.

    Also playfighting youngest daughter with me pretending to be Kung Fu Panda drives her into hysterical laugther.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "It's not my fault I'm obnoxious; I'm a victim of poor breeding"

  5. I'm not obnoxious enough to go the "because I'm obnoxious" route. But a huge cheeky grin works just as well :)

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