The 10 Most Devastating Insults of All Time
John Wilkes vs. John Montagu (AKA The Earl of Sandwich)
The Players: Most sources credit this exchange to John Wilkes and John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, although occasionally its also credited to British Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Im going to assume Sandwich said it, because its less satisfying to make fun of a guy who is considered the precursor of the modern politician than a guy who invented putting stuff in bread.
Winston Churchill vs. Lady Astor
Dorothy Parker vs. Clare Boothe Luce
The Players: Dorothy Parker and Clare Boothe Luce are the type of women destined to make this list. Both were renowned for their incisive wit, both were prolific and award-winning writers, and both loved a good old-fashioned cat fight. Parker was one of the founding members of the Algonquin Roundtable, a group of writers, editors, and intellectuals who met for lunch every day to say quotable things and laugh urbanely about how much smarter than the general public they all were. Luce, aside from being a playwright, served as U.S. Ambassador to Italy and a Congresswoman, thereby posthumously zinging the hell out of Lady Astor.
Buddha vs. Random Asshole
The Players: Not a lot of religious figureheads are known for their sharp wit. Jesus kind of painted himself into a corner with the whole turn the other cheek thing, and Jehovahs idea of a comeback was killing your entire town in a rain of brimstone and blood. Not exactly Friars Club Roast material. Meanwhile, Mohammeds pathetic attempts at insult are the stuff of legend, and while Joseph Smith once said something about Vishnu winning an arms race, the reference was lost on most in attendance. Yes, in the religious world, Siddhartha The Buddha Guatama is the undisputed king of zing. Raised in a palace and educated as a prince, he had the broad knowledge base required for improvisational mockery. And, as a proponent of balance in all things, hes one of the few religious figures who can justify the use of a withering comeback. After all, what better way to balance out an insult than an insult of equal force in the opposing direction? This concept encompasses all the teachings of Buddhism (theres some Newtonian physics mixed in there too).
Winston Churchill vs. George Bernard Shaw
The Players: Churchill you may remember from several minutes ago. At this point in our story, hes still the British Prime Minister, still drinks and smokes like a fishs chimney, and still seems to spout off horrendous burns like some kind of reverse fireman. This time, the target of his fire hose is George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, author of Pygmalion, and Socialist extraordinaire. Shaw spent most of his life crusading for the working class, even going so far as to donate the monetary portion of his Nobel Prize in literature to the effort to translate Swedish works of literature into English. This also qualified him for the Nobel Prize in Most Obscure Donation, the financial proceeds of which he used to build a gold statue of himself.
Calvin Coolidge vs. Dorothy Parker
The Players: Calvin Coolidge isnt known for a lot. Hes one of those Presidents you tend to shuffle into the Pearce/Taylor/Hayes/Garfield category, and even Garfield inspired a fat cartoon cat. Any cartoon character inspired by Coolidge would likely be cold, distant, silent and detached, as papers of the day described him. And while I personally would find a cold and detached cartoon cat to be an awesome concept for a comic strip, no brave artist has as yet stepped up to the plate. Until then, well have to satisfy ourselves with this anecdote, which will probably have a more lasting impact on the nation than anything else Silent Cal did while in office.
Winston Churchill vs. Francis Crick
The Players: Yes, the estate of Winston Churchill is sponsoring a large portion of this article. In case youve forgotten, hes the UK PM with Hitchcocks physique and Castros capacity for oral tobacco intake. Francis Crick, along with his loyal manservant Watson, sleuthed the basic helical structure of DNA and single-handedly foiled the evil Professor Moriarty. Setting the Scene: When Cambridge put in a chapel in the early 60s, Crick, who at that time was keeping busy nailing the hell out of his bio students and driving around in a Beemer with the vanity plate ACGT, became morally outraged and resigned his post. As it is a British the custom to grind salt into the wounds of fellow celebrities by mail, Winston Churchill wasted no time in sending Crick a letter consoling him for the loss he suffered due to his stubborn ideals.
Oscar Wilde vs. Lewis Morris
Related: It Ain't Easy Being Garrett Morris
Neils Bohr vs. Albert Einstein
The Players: Albert Einstein, a Nazi defector, is best known for the series of posters he appeared on with his tongue sticking out. He also invented radiation, daily exposure to which tragically caused him to always have static electricity hair. This obvious physical defect led to his name becoming synonymous with idiocy or buffoonery (i.e., great job irradiating my turtles, Einstein; theyve transformed into man-sized ninja monsters). Neils Bohr was a Nobel Laureate physicist with the Manhattan Project who provided powerful insights into atomic structure and early quantum mechanics. His mother was from a wealthy political family, his father had a molecular function named after him (the Bohr shift), and his brother was an Olympian. He is considered to be one of the fathers of modern physics, and was considered adequate by his parents.
Keith Moon vs. Jimmy Page
The Players: Keith Moon, of The Who, is one of the greatest drummers and rock stars to ever grace a stage. His unique style of drumming like a goddamned madman and insisting that the drums be treated as a lead instrument paved the way for 32-piece, revolving drum sets everywhere. Further, his habit of utterly trashing hotel rooms, throwing TV sets out of windows, and blowing up toilets got him personally banned from no less than three major hotel chains and basically started the trend. He was a tortured, bizarre little man who hit his women, forced enough drugs through his system to mildly discomfort Keith Richards, and made some of the best noises in the history of rock. Id tell you who Jimmy Page is, but that kind of gives away the comeback, so Ill act like youve lived under a rock for forty years and have no idea.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael finds it increasingly difficult not to read a Churchill biography as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!