Ironic condescension: Looking down while being wrong
Simpsons writer Brent Forrester: "Whenever you're looking down on somebody, but you're wrong...it's funny."
The Simpsons writer Brent Forrester on ironic condescension (i.e. looking down at others even though you’re 100% wrong):
Forrester recently took to TikTok to break down how a vintage Homer Simpson joke from the show's eighth season came into being. In doing so, he also talked about what some believe to be the secret to the iconic character's humor.
According to Forrester, that key is a specific comedic approach called "ironic condescension," which he explains is, "whenever you're looking down on somebody, but you're wrong ... it's funny."
The joke in question:
Homer: Wow, Marge, you really do understand me. See, I thought we weren't soulmates because...
Marge: ...we had a fight?
Homer: Right, and we don't like the same things. It's like you're from Venus...
Marge: ...and you're from Mars.
Homer: Oh, sure, give me the one with all the monsters.
Reminds me of a lot of Steve Martin’s standup character, basically a high status moron. See this example, delivered dripping with condescension (from “Las Vegas,” track 2 on Let’s Get Small):
We're basically into the intellectual scene up here, and that's why we're not into that kind of entertaining...And it is an intellectual town. I enjoy coming here. Like, for example, see, things are always happening to me up here that are so above everything else. Like, before the show, I was standing backstage and a couple came back and asked me if I was bi. And, well, I studied a little Spanish in high school, but, uh, not enough to really be bi, you know, but I didn't want to look stupid so I said, "Yeah, I'm bi." And uh, they said, "Well, we would like you to come over after the show because we've got some S&M people coming over." And I said, "Hey, great, Spaniards and Mexicans." So it'll be interesting to go there after the show, speak a little Spanish, and have the intellectual thing, which is what I'm into.