Once again, I call your attention to the venerable Dick Cavett.
While reading this, I was sifting through famous insults I recall, and holding them up for comparison. I kept coming back to Joan Rivers on Elizabeth Taylor. That string of burger joint jokes. As deadly and polished as those insults were, I think we could not enjoy them because of what they targeted. Not evil but weakness. When Joan turns the gun on herself in that recent commercial in which she says “Oh honey, this face has seen more knives than a benihana”, we can laugh easily because she owns the weakness targeted. I wonder if she wrote that line herself.
And there's that Dorothy Parker review of a Kate Hepburn performance in which Kate "ran the gamut of emotion from A to B". No one ever thought of Kate as weak or vulnerable, so we can laugh. I wonder if she herself laughed.