Today’s Comment of the Week: Backhanded Compliments

Wonderful Reader RR listens to Episode 4 of The Jacke Wilson Show and writes:

I had to giggle at ‘easier to follow’.

Ah yes! This was where I noted that my friend’s response to a particular story was that the story was “easier to follow” than one of my other stories. Easier to follow! Because I wanted to give my friend (and my poor little stories!) the benefit of the doubt, I chose to interpret “easier to follow” not as a euphemism for “your other story was terrible,” but as “I see where you’re trying to lead me with these, and I put up less resistance to this one than to that one. But both were rich with thought-provoking ideas.”

The odds of that interpretation being the proper one are probably about two percent. Maybe less. But I’ve gone with worse odds than that before. (Hello, career path!)

Anyway, we’re big fans of backhanded compliments here. In fact, didn’t we analyze backhanded insults (or front-handed insults) before?

RR continues:

It might be a stretch but it reminded me of that episode from Roseanne where Jackie took on acting. She was so elated about the newspaper review, saying that her acting group was ‘less confused’ this time around. A compliment that might not be a compliment that we can all live with.

Man, I wish I had more Roseanne in my own memory bank. (I could do with less, um, It’s a Living or Angie. But I’ll hang onto The Jeffersons, Family Ties, The Facts of Life, and Bosom Buddies. And don’t touch my Hello Larry!).

Roseanne was big during a period where I wasn’t watching much television. But I’m in favor of it. Norm MacDonald (who got his start writing for the show) has a lot of interesting things to say about it in his podcast interview of Roseanne. I listen to all my podcasts on audio (because I have insomnia and use a pillow speaker to try to tame the night chaos in my brain), but what the heck, let’s link to the video, queued up to where the interview starts:

RR concludes:

The story of your mother and the ufo is very charming. You are vague about whether your stories are completely true, but that had a feeling of truth to it. Very sweet.

Yes! Thank you very much. It’s not all that common to have a sweet story about UFOs. I was lucky to have this one in my back pocket. I suppose you might say there’s another one in The Monster, but maybe that’s a stretch.

I can’t really pick among theme songs here, so let’s go with a twofer onward and upward.

Onward, with the real deal (Billy Joel! Tom Hanks! What a show!): Continue reading

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