The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time

. . . At least in the opinion of some folks at IFC. (a few off color ones, naturally)

The list begins with SNL/Will Ferrell’s “Cowbell” at #50 and ends with Monty Python’s legendary “Dead Parrot” at #1. In between you’ll find famous bits from most of the other great sketch comedy shows like SCTV, Carol Burnett, Kids in the Hall, The Chappelle Show, and several others.

My main quibble with the list is the position of my all time favorite, “The Four Yorkshiremen,” by a pre-Monty Python group at #32. It has to be a top five. Here is the original with Marty Feldman. . .

Some Random Mid-week Linkage

Jonah Goldberg–“The Genocide Loophole”

The climate of anti-Semitism made the Holocaust possible, but so did Enlightenment bias, which holds that almost anything can be justified in the name of progress.


Octopia–An online gallery of old comic and pulp fiction covers featuring overly aggressive octopi.



Some Charlton Heston links to honor a good man’s homegoing.

  • A look at his career at Reel Classics.
  • Some of the letters to the editor Heston sent to the L.A. Times.
  • The classy George Clooney mocks Heston’s Alzheimer’s and says “he deserves it.” (Yet another good reason to avoid Clooney films like the Eboloa Virus. I know I do.)
  • A clip from the film “Omega Man,” the 70s original upon which the recent Will Smith movie “I Am Legend” was based:

An Exodus Conspiracy?

I missed it the first time, but the Discovery Channel re-aired the 2006, James Cameron-produced special called “Exodus Decoded” the other night. It was impressively presented, though it contains a lot of dubious conjecture, unfounded leaps, and unwarranted dot connecting. The film goes to great lengths to try to explain the plagues, wonders and miracles of the Exodus story as natural phenomena associated with the eruption of the super-volcano Santorini off the coast of Greece.

What struck me as enormously significant was something that the presentation only mentions in passing. It seems the Egyptian government may, for political and ideological reasons, be deliberately supressing archaeological evidence that supports the biblical accounts of Genesis (Joseph) and the Exodus. A couple of key sites in Egypt were closed to the producers of the program.

It’s not hard to understand why. Evidence that testifies of a Jewish presence in Egypt, the Sinai, and Canaan going back 3500 years would be darned inconvenient for Islamists who contend the State of Israel is illegitimate.

Jonah and the Fish


My already high esteem for Jonah Goldberg jumped a few more notches today.

An essay Jonah wrote sparked an interesting and cordial discussion over on the National Review group blog, The Corner, this morning. The piece he wrote mentioned the increasingly ubiquitous “Darwin Fish” magnets on cars. Jonah, who is Jewish, put his finger directly on the thing I find most obnoxious about them.

I find Darwin fish offensive. First, there’s the smugness. The undeniable message: Those Jesus fish people are less evolved, less sophisticated than we Darwin fishers.

The hypocrisy is even more glaring. Darwin fish are often stuck next to bumper stickers promoting tolerance or admonishing that “hate is not a family value.” But the whole point of the Darwin fish is intolerance; similar mockery of a cherished symbol would rightly be condemned as bigoted if aimed at blacks or women or, yes, Muslims. . . But it’s the false bravado of the Darwin fish that grates the most. Like so much other Christian-baiting in American popular culture, sporting your Darwin fish is a way to speak truth to power on the cheap, to show courage without consequence.

In “The Corner”, John Derbyshire, the self-styled curmudgeon-agnostic-scientific-skeptic with a heart of gold took issue with a couple of Jonah’s points, though also admitted finding the Darwin fish “ill-mannered.” Among several points in a long post, Derbyshire wrote:

So is the Darwin fish ill-mannered? I think it is, but only because it equates Christianity with Creationism. Most Christians aren’t Creationists, and to imply that they are is wrong-headed, tarring the many with the foolishness of the few. I can’t truthfully say, as Jonah does, that I find the Darwin fish offensive, but I do think it’s ignorant (i.e. of the fact that most Christians aren’t Creationists) and ill-mannered (i.e. towards non-Creationist Christians).

Of course, Derbyshire doesn’t get it. Being self-described “lapsed Episcopalian” as well as a British ex-pat living on Long Island–John simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he isn’t exposed to many real Christians.

Thus, when he declares that “most Christians aren’t Creationists,’ he’s using the term Christian in the broadest most generic way imaginable. The fact is virtually all Christians are creationists at some level in that they believe God is pre-existent to the universe and is the agent (or cause) of its formation.

In the same vein, it is also true that Christians are, by definition, not Materialists, i.e., people who believe as Carl Sagan proclaimed that “the Cosmos is all there is, all there ever has been, and all there ever will be.”

Jonah’s rebuttal to Derbyshire is here. It’s good but doesn’t go far enough.

Derb has no problem with appropriating the symbol of the Icthus (Jesus fish) for the purpose of mocking and sneering at “Creationists.” He finds it out of bounds only because the use also tweaks these supposedly-abundant “Christians” who have no “Creator.”

But as Jonah rightly suggests in his original essay, the appropriation of the Ichthus is uniquely obnoxious and snide.

The displayer isn’t just affirming his belief in Darwinism in the same way a displayer of the Icthus affirms his belief in Jesus. He’s proclaiming his disdain for a different view. It’s one thing to declare, “I think I’m smart.” It’s another to shout, “I think you’re stupid.”

But, in spite of what Derb contends, it goes beyond just boorish manners.

The symbol of the fish came into use in the early centuries of the Christian movement when believers found themselves living in societies that weren’t prepared to tolerate their belief system. The dominant state-approved religions (some of them secular-religions) were militant and intolerant.

Today there is a rising spirit of militancy among the atheists/materialists in the U.S. and U.K.. From respectable academics like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris to entertainers like Bill Maher and Penn Gillette–popular and influential voices are suggesting that “civilized” societies shouldn’t have to tolerate people like the Creationists Derb clearly thinks are a fair game for public mockery.

That’s why I no longer find those Darwin Fish merely insulting. I find them chilling.

When I see the word “Evolve” inside that sacred fish on the car in front of me, I wonder. . . is that a statement? Or a demand?

There They Go Again


The need to feel superior to Americans is on the verge of surpassing football as Britain’s national obsession.

On any given evening, a significant portion of UK television programming is given over to reassuring the typical Brit that, though his/her nation may be a dysfunctional mess, it’s still better in every way than the United States. (“Americans are fat.” “Americans are tacky and tasteless.” “Americans are illiterate.” “Americans are religious fanatics.” etc., etc.)

Of course, newspapers are savvy to the British public’s appetite for validation, too. For the last day-and-a-half, Drudge’s main headline has been a link to this front page story in The Independent about our new “Great Depression” here.

The supposed proof of this new dark age is a rise in the number of individuals receiving food stamps assistance–a rise from 26.5 million in 2007 to 28 million now. Not exactly a stratospheric climb off the charts. And the article also mentions another reason for the increase:

The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards.

So actually, the modest increase is due to effective advertising and marketing of the program (much of it in Spanish, I’ll wager). By the way, that 1.5 million increase is also equivalent to the estimated number of illegal immigrants who have entered the United States in the last year and a half.

Finally, if I had the time to research and run the numbers, it would be interesting to compare the percentages of the U.S. and U.K. populations currently on government assistance. I suspect the numbers of Brits receiving monthly payouts from the government and subsidized/free housing as a percentage of the population is several multiples greater in the UK than the U.S..

But hey, readers of The Independent–if that headline makes you feel better about yourself–off you go.

Update: Jim Geraghty over at The Campaign Spot notices that the photo The Independent used on its front page was taken back in 2005.