Pop Culture References in The Colbert Report: Jan 31-Feb 3, 2011

Pop Culture references from the Colbert ReportWelcome 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! Happy Early Spring! Hmm..although from the looks of the snow I’ve seen here in the south, I’m beginning to doubt the scientific accuracy of Punxatawney Phil’s predictions. One of my favorite segments was about Big Flats beer, because I worked at a pharmacy for many years, so it made me laugh a little harder. Others (especially the interview with Sean Dorrance Kelly) really got my brain pumping – and nothing beats a good brain workout! What were some of your favorites?


Un-American News – Kim-Jong-ils Furry Hat

My first decree: bring back MASH! Oh Hawkeye, how can you be so funny in surgery?

Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce is the main character in a cast of many serving the (fictional) 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H) during the Korean War. His nickname was given to him by his father, and comes from The Last of the Mohicans which he mentions was the only book his father ever read. The character was played by Donald Sutherland in the film and by Alan Alda on television. In fact, Hawkeye is the only character to appear in all of the show’s episodes. Considering the show lasted 11 seasons (nearly 4 times the actual length of the Korean war), that’s a pretty large feat! The show was pretty popular, and the series finale is still the highest rated American show (and finale) of all time, with 106 million viewers.

Paul Offit

So can’t we put those people – like the boy in the plastic bubble?

David Vetter, a young man from Texas with suffered from a rare genetic disease known as severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID). He was forced to live in a sterile environment and became known as “the boy in the plastic bubble.” He was born into a special sterilized environment, and was handled only through special plastic gloves attached to the walls. When he was 12 they transplanted his sister’s bone marrow (which wasn’t a match), citing recent advances in unmatched marrow transplants. He became sick shortly after the transplant, and his condition required him to be removed from his bubble for the first time. He died 15 days later. A movie based on his story (and that of Ted DeVita) was made for TV in 1976 and starred John Travolta.


Wal-Mart Collaborates With Obama Administration – Leslie Dach

Is it a trojan cantaloupe to try to get into liberal bastions like New York?

This is a reference to the tale from the Trojan War, as told by Virgil’s in his epic poem The Aeneid, of the Trojan Horse. In the tale, the Greeks give a giant wooden horse to their foes, the Trojans, as a peace offering. However, after the Trojans drag the horse inside the city walls, Greek soldiers leapt out of the horse to open the gates and allow their fellow soldiers to pour in and capture Troy. In other manifestations of this event, a wooden rabbit was used.


Well, you might be able to carve them into horses...

Hosni Mubarak Will Not Run Again

And what the local media calls falcon, eye, scarab!

I have to admit I included this one because my curiosity was piqued. I’m one of those folks who, in the event s/he doesn’t know something, has to find it out or it gnaws at my brain until I do. So I did some digging and found the symbols mentioned to find out what meaning they have. Horus is the first known national god of Egypt is often depicted with a falcon head. Typically he was pictured with the right eye as the sun and left eye as the moon. The symbol of the eye is known as The Eye of Horus or the Eye of Ra. It is a symbol of protection, wisdom and health. The Scarab (dung beetle) is a symbol of creation, resurrection and everlasting life. Learn more about Egyptian hieroglyphs here.


Sean Dorrance Kelly

Nietzsche says that what’s sacred in a culture is whatever it is that you can’t laugh at.

This was an interesting topic, and it really got me thinking about one story in particular where laughter and the sacred are discussed. Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra features the character Zarathustra praising laughter as enjoyed by the “overman” in the story. The overman lived on a mountain top and looked down upon all others and laughed at them. Zarathustra later calls himself the “laughing prophet”, and chides the preacher who disapproves of laughter. In this context it appears Nietzsche considers laughter to be sacred: “I have canonized laughter; You higher men, learn to laugh!” In my quest to find out more on Nietzsche, laughter and the sacred, I found a great article if you want to read on (and perhaps discuss your take on it in the comments).

Tip/Wag – British Superman – Big Flats Beer

Nation, Jesus said “judge not lest ye be judged.” Man the Messiah was a real buzz kill.

This verse comes from the book of Matthew (7:1) and actually reads “Judge not, that ye be not judged” according to the King James Version. The New International Version reads “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” It is said by some to not only be one of the most quoted line of scripture, but the most misunderstood passage of The Bible as well.


Sport Report: Super Bowl Edition

I want blimps raining jelly beans, I want the condiments in the stadium to be declared a vegetable.

In 1981, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that ketchup could be counted as a vegetable (as well as relish), thus allowing public schools to cut out a serving of vegetables from their school lunch. This was proposed as a result of Congress’ $1 billion budget cut from child-nutrition funding. This reclassification was purportedly part of a strategy to help school districts economize and still meet nutritional requirements. It was never implemented after backlash from nutritionists and other political opponents, but the myth still lingers. Besides – we all know ketchup is made from tomatoes (well, a little bit anyway), and tomatoes are fruit!

Crisis in Egypt – Anderson Cooper – Bill O’Reilly

You’re like St. Thomas Aquinas in that your understanding of the world is also from the Thirteenth Century.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic Priest in the Dominican Order, and considered to be one of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. His writings (especially those relating to the combination of reason and faith, including the Summa theologica) went on to have major influence on official Roman Catholic theology, and the Catholic Church canonized him as a Saint only 50 years after his death. He is considered the patron saint of academics and students.

[Editor’s Note: One of my favorite quotes by Aquinas is “It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” – DB]


  1. Ahhhh, that Aquinas line was a beautiful clincher to that O’Reilly bit. I loved that segment SO much, it made me incredibly happy (and I’m thinking we need to start a drive to send science books to Bill-O, stat. Holy effing crap-I was practically speechless after hearing Bill talk there). I showed it to my mom and we were both just cracking up (especially when he got to the “on/off TV” bit). The Trojan horse reference made me laugh, too

    Wow. That Egyptian hieroglyphics one-somebody dug deep there, who on earth came up with THAT? *Is deeply impressed* Also interesting to learn about the ketchup thing, how utterly strange, that story (and the food group mix up-seems like some people might need to go back to those schools they wanted to help, apparently).

    Such a fun week of shows, some excellent examples of references here. Learn something new every week with this, as always, loved reading this.

  2. Great job, Toad.
    I found the Bill-zero comparison to St Thomas one of the funniest things on TCR in a long time. That whole segment was pure joy – all 7 times I watched it! Loved the hot water-cold water-never a miscommunication. It makes me laugh every time I turn on the water.

    I don’t know who here is old enough to remember the Jelly-Bean mania created when it was mentioned that this was the President’s favorite candy. Reagan and jelly beans might as well be synonymous because if you mention one I’ll picture the other.

    As for the Trojan Horse – you might mention that this is where the expression “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” comes from. This was the sage advice my father gave me when I decided to backpack in Greece by myself when I was still a teenager. I didn’t get the joke until I saw a little statue of a Trojan Horse in a gift shop… So Dad had a sense of humor after all!

    • Aaah, I am one of the old ones who remembers the Reagan administration all too well. I remember when ketchup was a vegetable. I was in college and Saturday Night Live did not let up on that one for a long time.
      Come to think of it, I suppose Reagan’s beloved jelly beans could have been listed as a carbohydrate if he had a third term. And the funny thing is that while Sarah It-Pains-Me-To-Write-Her-Name-Palin talks about how great Reagan was (Um, remember his response to AIDS anyone? Remember him actually raising taxes?) I’m fairly sure that if the Gipper were alive today, even he would think she was an idiot. I mean, he became demented AFTER he left office — SHE has no excuse.
      Oh, and I hope somebody gets that Bill O’Reilly a clapper! (Are you also old enough to remember “The Clapper?” Lights on! — Lights off! — Never a miscommunication!).

    • I almost put that (Beware of Greeks bearing gifts) in there too. I do remember the jelly beans, even though I was young at the time. It was a pretty big deal! I also found that you can also still get shirts and such that say “Ketchup is a Vegetable!” kinda tongue in cheekish. I may have to find the link and post it.

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