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. Setting the Scene: When not revolutionizing the consumption of sliced meats and cheeses, Montagu was known for his incompetence, cruelty, lechery, and Satan-worshipping. The Earl was a member of The Hellfire Club, a satanic group dedicated to amoralistic hedonism, which totally explains all the sandwiches. Theres not a lot more seductively evil than a hot pastrami on rye. He was also responsible for commanding the British navy at the time of the American Revolution, and his incompetence at doing so is considered by historians to have been a large deciding factor in the war, so much so that when he died a popular proposed epitaph was Seldom has any man held so many offices and accomplished so little. Posthumous zing! Basically, the Earl of Sandwich was exactly like that Jack in the Box commercial made him out to be.
Winston Churchill vs. Lady Astor
The Players: Winston Churchill, one of Britains best-loved Prime Ministers, helped lead the nation to victory in World War II by sitting on his fat ass, smoking cigars, and delivering more quotable lines than an entire staff of Simpsons writers. Churchill was such a powerful force in English politics that his death ensured work for ugly British actors for at least the next millennia. During his time in Parliament, he often had the occasion to square off against the conservative Lady Astor, first female member of Parliament and renowned wit. Whether Astors penchant for attacking Churchill was due to his being a heavy drinker, occasionally sexist, or simply a worthy sparring partner, their scuffles proved that if theres anything politicians do well, its talk some serious shit.
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
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
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
Oscar Wilde vs. Lewis Morris
The Players: Oscar Wilde, author of The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray, was a renowned Irish playwright and wit who wore fur coats in public, had catty feuds with other poets, and just went around generally acting so gay that he was ultimately put on trial and imprisoned for his homosexuality. His works and legacy are still going strong, despite tremendous efforts to silence his indecency in his own time, although his is still occasionally mistaken for actor Gene Wilder, probably because hes as close to Willy Wonka as any living humans ever been. Lewis Morris was another poet and friend of Oscars who wasnt nearly as gay and has therefore rightly been forgotten.
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!