I wasn’t the first to be bothered by it. But I am bothered by it as well. It isn’t even about the visual formatting, but about the fact that “said no one ever” is a meme thing, and a spoken one at that. The play on words people expect is for the “said” to be there because that’s what people say. They don’t say it without the said.
I think dropping the said for the hyphen still can work, but only because seeing the hyphen visually causes your brain to kind of read it as “said”. Without the hyphen, it becomes nothing but an attribution. That works if it is an actual quote. This isn’t a quote at all. It is an anti quote (if that’s a thing) because you are highlighting what someone DOESN’T say.
Which brings it back to sticking to the language people expect to hear. This is a “said no one ever” joke.
Which brings me back to the hiccup. As a writer, the idea is you don’t ever want the reader to be caught up by the way it is written. In this case, that is exactly what has happened. And while there are times you might actually want to do that on purpose, as you already said, in this case it becomes a distraction not something that emphasizes the humor.
Now, if you did this up like it was some fancy quote similar to the ones you posted, where it is meant to appear inspirational and quoting someone famous…THEN the juxtaposition would add to the effect. In this case, being as plain as it is, it appeals to the spoken joke…which needs the said.
Yes, yes. IMHO.