A smarmy comeback to use when certain people in your life crack a joke at your expense, and you can’t let them think it was funny–even if it was funny.
Newman entered archnemesis Jerry’s apartment with Kramer, who asked to borrow Jerry’s pliers. “What, did Newman get another Army man stuck in his ear?” Jerry remarked. Staring at Jerry, Newman didn’t flinch–except to say this…in a low, comically-menacing voice.
This isn’t a question of you being able to laugh at yourself; of course you’re humble enough to do that. You’re just too proud to do that in front of anyone–sworn enemy or serious friend; it doesn’t matter–who would take you laughing at you as an opportunity to look down on you. With such people, you can’t be perceived as weak; that might shift the balance in the epic battle that is your relationship.
Newman might have actually had an Army man stuck in his ear but he wasn’t about to concede to Jerry in laughing about it.
From “The Reverse Peephole”
Episode 12, Season 9
Seinfeld Volume 8, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 2:06