Learn about the feeling of l'Esprit de l'Escalier with iMinds insightful audio knowledge series. There’s nothing like a good comeback. It’s witty, snappy and completely devastating to your verbal sparring partner. A woman once said to US President Calvin Coolidge: “I’ve made a bet with a friend that I can get you to say at least three words to me this evening. What do you have to say to that?” Coolidge looked at her and calmly replied: “You lose.”
But how many times have you gone completely blank when arguing with someone, only to think of the perfect comeback an hour later? It’s too late, of course. Whoever you were arguing with is long gone, and even if they’re still around, a witty comeback is only witty if it’s delivered off the cuff. More than anything, you wish you could wind back time and deliver your riposte at the perfect moment. That’s l’esprit de l’escalier.
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In movies, characters always seem to know what to say, responding to a wisecrack with a witty rejoinder of their own. Of course, that dialogue is scripted; normal people aren't so lucky. Often, we come up with the perfect response to someone's comment much later, a situation known as l'esprit de l'escalier. The concept was named by Denis Diderot, as it's wit that only arises at the "bottom of the stairs," when it's too late. iMinds provides the history of l'esprit de l'escalier, and the jaunty soundtrack combines with Elouise Rothwell's sly performance to make a fun, revelatory listen.