A joking relationship can either be one of light humor or one of continued roasting. Mary Douglas brings this to light when discussing the Dogon joking partners in her essay “Jokes”, from her book, Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology. She talks about how these partners don’t engage in light hearted jokes but rather in insults. Now they tend to find these “jokes” to be humorous, which brought about a few questions from Griaule about what the line was between a joke and an insult. This though, brought to mind part of a standup special performed by Steve Martin and Martin Short called An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life (Marcus Raboy, 2018). (I was unable to find the clip online, but attached is the trailer for their special).
Now the entire special technically revolves around them insulting each other, but within the first ten minutes of it, they spend a section of time talking about HOW they are insulting each other. It may be seen as being filled with back-handed compliments, but rather than being insulted they take it in good faith and find it to be quite funny; as the Dogon joking partners do. I believe that it doesn’t necessarily come down to the line between a joke and an insult, but rather the relationship between the person telling the joke and the person whom it is about. Steve Martin and Martin Short have worked with each other for years, thusly making their relationship quite strong. This allows for each of them to make low blows towards the other and have neither of them get offended; rather they just laugh it off and continue. So rather than worrying about where the line is between a joke and an insult, I believe the relationship between the two people that are exchanging the jokes is more important.