Four Horsemen of the Apopcalypse – Pop culture references in The Colbert Report: November 1-4, 2010


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!  Such a fantastic week, but it seems there’s hardly any point in me going on about all the great moments, when all I want to say is ELVIS COSTELLO!!!  Truly one of my all-time musical heroes.  He’s such a sharp, funny, soft-spoken guy in conversation, the new song was rollicking and witty, and the duet made my heart burst.   I did love the Sharron Angle Mystery Box, though.  Gotta love some ridiculous physical comedy (almost as ridiculous as Sharron Angle)!  What were your favorite segments this week? Post them in the comments! (** = TCR/TDS link)

Monday: Jonathan Alter

Alter:  “You know that movie Cool Hand Luke, the sheriff, what he says to Paul Newman ‘What we have here is a failure to communicate’?” Stephen: “I thought you were going to say Obama ate 72 eggs.”

Classic scenes from 1967’s Cool Hand Luke, with Paul Newman as Luke, the nonconformist in a Georgia prison camp.  Slapped down by a prison guard for talking back, Luke is given the “failure to communicate” line.  Stephen came up with his retort so quickly, referencing a scene where the prisoners are making wagers whether Luke could eat 50 eggs in one sitting.  It’s not the first time Stephen’s referenced Cool Hand Luke, either: see this **hilarous exchange with Mary Matalin (“He said ‘I will make you fishers of men‘. I don’t believe Jesus said ‘If you don’t work you don’t eat’. I believe that was from Cool Hand Luke“).

Tuesday: Katrina vanden Heuvel

“Before the cock crows, repudiate him three times!”

Repudiate is apparently the word of the hour in Republican circles, according to ABC News.  Remember, that’s not to be confused with Sarah Palin’s amusing-because-it-was-unintentional neologism “refudiate” (hey, don’t get on her case – remember that Shakespeare coined new words all the time!).  Why three times?  It’s a controversial mechanism for divorce under Sunni Islam, the triple talaq, in which a husband need only say “I divorce you” three times, in order to end a marriage.  See also Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22:34: “And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”  (hat tip to Erin Ptah!)

“America has spoken loudly and clearly and Katrina vanden Heuvel is pouring wax in her ear like Odysseus.”

Mad props to Stephen for his liberal referencing of Greek mythology.  The Sirens of Greek mythology were winged temptresses who lured sailors to shipwreck and death by their enchanted songs.  Now here comes the pedant in me…  In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus managed to evade the Sirens by ordering his men to fill their ears with wax so they would not be tempted to run aground.  Odysseus himself wished to hear the Siren song, so he tied himself to the ship’s mast, and left his own ears unplugged.

Wednesday: Intro & We Hardly Better Knew Ye

“You know what they say: it’s always Prop 19 somewhere.”

The crowd’s enthusiastic cheers at the beginning of the Prop 19 segment and Stephen’s reaction (“let’s have these people frisked after the show”) cracked me up.  The intro statement is a play on the original “it’s always 5pm somewhere” (happy hour!) and the somewhat more contemporary “it’s always 4:20 somewhere” (time to light up!).  But don’t go thinking Stephen indulges: no, he **refuses to celebrate 4/20, though he’s not above  inducing paranoia in the home audience (I’m also amused at the appearance of the same ‘pothead video editor’ here and in the Prop 19 segment).

“I cannot wait for 2012 when to pack even more analysts around the table, you give everyone a Total Recall Kuato.”

You know, if they could do it in holographic 3D vision, I wouldn’t put it past CNN to try.  In the 1990 film Total Recall (based on a Philip K. Dick story, I love PKD!) – skipping over the incredibly convoluted reality-bending narrative – Kuato is a tiny Martian mutant who is conjoined to the chest of another person (icky photo!).

Thursday: Spider-Man Is Alaska’s Write-In Candidate

“Because in Alaska the vote count is still going on, partly because the election officials’ tauntauns have frozen.

Love the little digs at Alaskans, from the Alaska as the frozen ice planet Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back (“I thought they smelled bad on the outside!”), to the Abominable Snowman (from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer) as Joe Miller’s campaign manager.  (Incidentally, I want a tauntaun sleeping bag. But only if it’s unscented.)


  1. Erin Ptah says:

    I don’t think the “three times” reference has anything to do with the triple talaq. The cock-crowing part is a direct callback to the apostle Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ arrest: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.'” (Luke 22:34)

    • Doh! You’re probably right, that’s so obvious I missed it. Though the talaq is described as repudiating one’s wife three times, the Christian reference is much more likely. Thanks!

  2. Mr. Arkadin says:

    Great to see the Apopcalypse back, Wren! Always one of my favorite posts.

  3. lockhart43 says:

    My favorite reference last week was definitely the Pangea joke from Wednesday’s show. I just love that someone thought that up, and I love even more that the audience had such a great reaction to it.

    Thanks for the roundup wren! And thanks for the throwback to the Mary Matalin nailing, man that was great.

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