Whenever I hear witty repartee, I immediately think this could be a cartoon character. Its definition from the dictionary is “a succession or interchange of clever retorts, amusing and usually light sparring with words.” Another definition said “it’s snappy dialogue,” which also sounds like a cartoon character.
Having a gift for witty repartee is extremely useful when it comes to small talk. I’d like to issue a quote from a favorite handbook of mine, Social Graces by Town and Country magazine:
“Great small talk does what it has always done: It wins new friends, lifts spirits into a celebratory mood, and evokes the best in others. It amuses delights and challenges. Most important these days, it marks the great divide between the workaday, rush-rush-gotta-go world and a social occasion.”
My go-to small talk conversation starter is to ask something like “what are you reading(?)” or “have you been traveling recently(?).” What isn’t okay to do, especially by European standards is status snooping. Also, “avoid subjects leading to the expression of strong feelings,” and never bring up gossip. Now, if someone else brings it up, you are allowed to do the “you call, and I’ll raise” ploy, but I think it’s best to avoid this, especially in groups.
And don’t drop names.