Communicating Effectively With Quips


By Caleb Spalding Atwood, Guest Columnist
Author of “The World’s First Quip Thesaurus with Literally Billions of Quips”
March 2014


Many people think that a “quip” and a “joke” are synonymous, but they differ substantially. The objective of jokes is to get laughs while the objective of quips is to express opinions many may disagree with intensely. Some examples include, “Gun Laws: Protection for gangsters and governments” and the “NRA: an organization opposed to personal cannon control.”

Strong opinions can usually be expressed quickly and effectively in quips. 

  • ACA: Don’t blame Obama, he didn’t read it either 
  • Advertising: Putting mascara on maggots
  • Bribe: Political perk
  • Curfew: Law that prevents kids from acting like adults.
  • CFTC: Commodity Futures Trading Commission created to protect financial predators from their prey
  • Eternal rest: Fireproof coffin
  • It’s not mine: What Adam told Eve and politicians have been telling voters ever since
  • Marijuana: Medicine for people who are not sick – yet
  • Politics: Cure for prosperity
  • Ponzi: Patron Saint of Federal Reserve
  • FOX on the run: Progressives favorite bluegrass song.
  • Progressive:  Dyed in the Bull liberal
  • Socialism: Fair and equitable distribution of poverty
  • Ted Cruz: Senator whose nationality would not be questioned if he’d been born in Kenya
  • TSA agent: Dream job for amateur proctologists
  • US $: Currency backed by the gold missing from Fort Knox

Most quips are adaptations of other quips; so new quips can be created simply by reducing existing quips to formulas and substituting words. Gloria Steinem offered a great example with her quip, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Animals don’t “need” anything but basics (e.g. oxygen, water, sex, suitable food and favorable environments). So, thousands of objects can be substituted for “bicycle” and hundreds of animals, human aberration excepted, can be substituted for “fish” to produce literally millions of quips.

X need Y like: 

  • Fish need umbrellas
  • Giraffes need stilts
  • Hippos need hip boots
  • Kangaroos need pogo sticks
  • Peregrines need parachutes
  • Seahorses need saddles
  • Snails need speedometers

Furthermore, dozens of verbs – covet, cherish, and worship among them – can be substituted for “need” to create millions more quips by adapting Ms. Steinem’s single “Woman needs a Man” premise. Since we all have substantial numbers of significant opinions that we can express in equally prolific premises, creating literally billions of quips is well within our reach.

About the author:

Caleb Atwood has co-authored two books and numerous articles about labor relations and “The Quality of Management in America” that reported startling results from research he and a colleague conducted with 19,347 employees working for 97 companies. During his 50-year career, Atwood has trained thousands of supervisors and managers for corporations, industry associations and educational institutions including his alma mater, the University of Michigan, and the University of Houston, where he was an adjunct faculty member. Atwood is the author of “The World’s First Quip Thesaurus with Literally Billions of Quips.”