Welcome to No Fact Zone’s weekly roundup of cultural references on The Colbert Report. From Darcy to Danger Mouse, String Theory to Shakespeare, we’ve got the keys to this week’s obscure, oddball, and occasionally obscene cultural shout-outs (hey!).
Hey Zoners! One of my favorite recurring props is the random wheel of absurdity. There was the **BP Oil Containment Solution Randomizer, or its cousin the **Super Bowl Ad Office Pool. This week it was the Christine O’Donnell Clip Predictor 3000. Personally, I was rooting for “Groped El Chupacabra On BP’s underwater cam.” That or “Woke up in a bathtub missing a kidney With a drunk bobcat On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” What were your favorite segments this week? Post them in the comments! (** = TCR/TDS link).
“How can you run “Hagar the Horrible” on your comics page without balancing coverage about the pillaging at the Battle of Svolder in the year 1000. Damn you Svein Forkbeard, King of Denmark!”
Research! Find me an obscure naval battle with Vikings, stat! Actually quite a famous event in Norwegian history, the Battle of Svolder found King Olaf of Norway defending his small fleet against the much larger forces of Svein Forkbeard of Denmark, Olaf Eriksson of Sweden, and Eirik Hakonarson, Jarl of Lade. By battle’s end, the King’s fleet was ruined, Olaf was at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, and Norway was partitioned among the victors. Svein himself went on to a successful career raiding, and ultimately conquering, England.
Put this on my list of too cute for words: Stephen’s funny, dorky rendition of Snow’s 1992 single “Informer” during his interview with Stephen Malkmus. I don’t think there were two actual words in that whole thing, but it certainly was bouncy. Then again, listen to the original (warning: serious ear-worm risk) – I challenge you to do any better!
“We may be able to bring some fears back from the dead. Mothers, did you know they never capped that well that Baby Jessica fell down?”
In 1987, millions around the world were captured by the plight of an 18 month old girl who had fallen 22 feet down a narrow well shaft and become trapped. Reporters and rescuers descended on the scene in droves, television viewers watched 24 hour news coverage, and after 2 1/2 days of rescue efforts, Baby Jessica emerged injured but alive. The incident is often cited as a watershed moment in round-the-clock, live television coverage of events.
“The real question, Glen, is what is the preconditioned activation code? Is it the Queen of Diamonds? Or perhaps it’s something completely arbitrary – I don’t know, what do you think, Pirate Squirrel? Or they could be activated by a completely innocuous phrase that doesn’t mean anything to today’s youth, like 420. When they hear that I’m sure they’ll spring into action with energy and focus.”
Perhaps this line would have gotten a bigger laugh with Jon’s audience, notorious “stoned slackers” as they are? 420 is universal marijuana enthusiast lingo for smoking pot – keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see references to the number all over pop culture. The other cultural reference in here? Using a playing card to activate a subconscious program. In the novel & film The Manchurian Candidate, a former soldier is an unwitting Soviet sleeper agent, activated as an assassin by the sight of the Queen of Diamonds card (the film also came up in Wednesday’s interview with Zoe Lofgren).
“By the way, why don’t I get more hits when I put in ‘tall women carrying heavy things’?”
One of my favorite inexplicable character quirks, “Stephen” has a long-standing fascination with tall women lifting heavy things. See his previous reports on **protecting your online identity, his **personal browsing history, and **CNN email alerts.
“So I grabbed my overalls, and said goodbye city life.”
This is a pretty subtle reference to the theme song of Green Acres (Eva Gabor wistfully calling “Goodbye, city life!”), a sitcom aired from 1965-1971, in which two New York City urbanites move to the country to become farmers.
I really enjoyed the interview with Guillermo del Toro – partly because he’s an amazing filmmaker, partly because he was such an entertaining guest, and partly because his gruesome descriptions of Mexican Catholic imagery so amused Stephen. His offhand remark about “Saint Lucy and her eyes on a little tray” put Stephen in giggles. Saint Lucy was a Christian martyr whose eyes were removed with a fork; she’s often depicted very delicately carrying her eyes on a plate.
Thursday: Fallback Position – Migrant Worker
Stephen puts his glove on an ear of corn, and waves as he sends it down the line. This was a cute reference to the opening of 1970’s tv show Laverne & Shirley, with Penny Marshall sending a glove down a beer bottling line in Milwaukee.