Ever since the dawn of humor, people have clung to one simple truth: Other peoples' pain or discomfort is hilarious. Of course, people in a polite society will generally be hesitant to crowd around someone with a horrible, disfiguring physical condition or a debilitating social disorder... at least, not without help.
Enter the Insult Comic. When someone needs to be humiliated on a large scale, and it would require too much suspension of disbelief to get them to wind up on television or the front page, the Insult Comic can take a large room of people and get them to laugh at the unfortunate target.
However, most writers are not stand-up comedians, and this trope is more about highlighting the insecurities of a character than providing legitimate jokes. As a result, the Insult Comic will often have the inexplicable ability to make a crowd of people laugh, even when the 'jokes' are delivered in pure insult form and devoid of legitimate humor.
Compare The Heckler
and The Roast
- The remake of The Nutty Professor has Dave Chappelle's character, insult comedian Reggie Warrington, laying into his audience after an obligatory round of "Women be shoppin'!" to fluff the crowd. The obese Professor Klump notices the comic's insults starting to make their way toward his table and tries to sneak out, but Reggie gets to him first and unleashes a string of humiliating fat jokes that completely ruins Klump's night. One of the first things he does upon becoming the svelte Buddy Love is going back to the club and showing up Reggie in a positively epic fashion before kicking his ass and tossing him into a grand piano.
- CSI: The Victim of the Week of the "Last Laugh" episode was a reviled insult comic played by the Real Life comedian, Jeffrey Ross. The killer turns out to be a rival comedian who hated the victim's brand of gutter comedy.
- In the second-season 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Pre-Approved Credit Card," Earl's son Darius is trying to break into standup. Initially his jokes are hilariously lame, but then he switches to insult humor and gets the laughs.
- Deconstructed by a scenario on What Would You Do?. An actual comic (can't remember who) made repeated jokes at the expense of a man with a younger Asian wife (actually actors themselves) in a Manhattan comedy club in front of an audience mostly composed of tourists to see whether anyone would react. Some did, mostly in disgust; however one young group, mostly black or Hispanic, found it hysterically funny and were unapologetic about it, beyond not giving their names and letting the show blur their faces.
- In Modern Family's first-season Valentine's Day Episode, "My Funky Valentine," Jay and Gloria go out to see David Brenner, playing himself, but leave when Brenner keeps cracking jokes about Jay's age.
- In one episode of Recess, Randall tries to gain popularity by becoming a stand-up comedian. He very quickly resorts to making Mikey the butt of his jokes.
- In one episode of Baby Looney Tunes, Melissa decides to become an insult comic after watching one on TV. True to the trope, her inspiration is incredibly unfunny.
- One episode of The Simpsons had Springfield trying to win the right to host the next Olympic Games. They pretty much had it in the bag until Bart played Insult Comic to the members of the IOC, costing them the games and getting Bart in a lot of hot water.
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "TV or No TV", Brain's latest world takeover scheme involves wearing a set of hypnosis-inducing dentures and using his smile to get people to bend to his will. To this end, he decides to become a stand-up comedian. When his first set of jokes (cribbed from other comedians) gets him nothing but boos, he resorts to insulting the audience ("You're repugnant!" became his Catch Phrase for that episode), and they eat it up.
- The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Squirrel Jokes" has SpongeBob becoming a stand-up comedian. His initial jokes fall flat until he starts making cracks about squirrels. His squirrel friend, Sandy, is understandably offended until SpongeBob convinces her to take it with humor. But when the rest of Bikini Bottom begins to treat Sandy like a slow-witted idiot, she has to teach SpongeBob a lesson about his insult comedy.
- Life With Louie: Louie once became aquainted with an immensely popular stand-up comedian (who used to be friends with Louie's mother) whose whole routine revolved around selecting people in the audience to insult for humor. When Louie himself became a target of mockery for his weight, he decided that he didn't want to become known as a comedian who made fun of other people's misery. The end of the episode shows the comedian Lonely at the Top.
- Hadrian, a Ghoul in Fallout: New Vegas is explicitly named the insult comic. As a ghoul, he developed this talent dealing with the inevitable hecklers who'd rather make rude comments about his appearance than listen to his act.