Smart-asses are visible in contemporary culture. Smart-asses are broadcasted on TV. We see them in the supermarket. We all have a few in our family.
A lot of puritanical individuals and business CEOs frown on the smart-ass. He questions their authority with smirk-light-commentary. He levels them. He is uppity. Often, he is far more intelligent. He is always more entertaining.
Smart-assess date back to humanities earliest days. I speculate smart-asses within the ranks of primitive man.
I hypothesize one of the members of the group was sitting there when the rest of the tribe were doing something stupid or when whatever the band of primates were focused on bored him, he decided to hop up and down, sway arms, and grunt in mocking tone.
This is the likely stand-up routine origin.
The Smart-ass In Literature
Smart-asses exist within a variety of literature. Mark Twain loved to make smart-ass comments on mild irritations and irrational superstitions. He said that Christian Science was “Chloroform in print.” He wrote a long essay on the subject, while chuckling and puffing on his pipe.
In the 18th century, Ireland was subject to poverty and overpopulation. Jonathan Swift said the best solution to the problem was for the Irish to eat their children.
The Smart-ass in Sacred Texts.
Smartasses exist in sacred texts. Turn open a page of the typical, “Bible” if you doubt. Turn to the book of Kings.
Elijah was a smart ass. This is why he chose the alter-god-duel. It was the perfect setting to have a large audience and perform a stand-up comic routine, make a dosage of berating, insolent, yet humorous remarks at the expense of uppity holy men.
Jesus was a smart-ass. When he healed the man lowered through the roof and the priests questioned why he did it. He said, “Is it better to do good on the Sabbath or do evil?” This is a total cynical / smart-ass remark.
I assure you, if this event happened, it was not done in a somber tone. Why? He was Jewish.
Smart-asses in Cultural Context
Most Jews are cynical smartasses. They admit and pride themselves of this attribute. They do not take a somber view of life and always look for a moment to liven the moment with a cynical/ perhaps insolent remark. It tends to irritate some.
Perhaps, this is why the Jews have a long history of persecution. There are some who just cannot take a joke. I guess this is why the Holocaust happened in Germany and not England.
The English also love large doses of ironic jabs and sneers, especially offered along side a good glass or ale or cup of tea. The Germans, sadly, are not known for this quality.
Not being a Smart-ass as Psychological Problem
A lack of smart-ass attributes should be an alert. It is a sign hours spent at dinner are destined to be a dull time. It is a sign you will regret sending out the invite.
A lack of a smart-ass attribute is also creepy.
Was Jeffery Dahmer as Smart Ass? Were the Columbine kids Smart-asses? Are the extreme religious-radical-extremists smart-asses?
The answer NO… NO… NO… they were/ are not. Somberness goes well with psychopathology.
Smart-ass and Politics
Hitler for instance. Hitler was a Puritan in mannerisms. He was obsessed with societal proprieties.
This was a distinguishing factor between member of the leaders of the Axis Powers and the leaders of the Allies. Churchill loved to come into a room and let the people present know that, yes, he was a total smart-ass.
Churchill loved to drink. He loved his scotch. Certain women did not share these attributes. They found his stumbling and drunken ramblings infuriating.
When a woman came up to Churchill and said “ Churchill you are drunk. If I was your wife, I would poison your tea.” Churchill responded by saying “ And you’re ugly. Madam, if I were your husband I would drink it. I may be drunk, but I will be sober tomorrow.”
Smart-asses Amongst the Founding Fathers
Smart-asses played a significant role in the founding of the United States.
Thomas Pain was a smart-ass. Paine couldn’t resist giving a few jabs to his hated rivals. When he found out about their activities-of-irritation, he was not brought up-to-date on because he was too wrapped up in a project, he immediately set to work on a scathing sarcastic bit of prose denouncing/ ridiculing them.
Thus, from this brief historical outline, we should learn salute the tributes of the smart-ass.