You Can’t Take Me Anywhere

I was out for dinner with a group of friends when the couple next to us exploded into a loud screaming match. Our stunned group suddenly stopped talking, and you could see everyone was uncomfortable. I quickly deadpanned, “Wow, dinner AND a show.” and calmly took another bite of my salad. My group burst into laughter, and we resumed our meal. It wasn’t so much that I was clever as I knew making this joke would break the tension. At least with our group, it would.

Later, I felt remorseful as the quarreling couple looked embarrassed at our laughter and left shortly after. How do you break the tension in a situation? With humor? Peacemaking? Pretending it didn’t happen?