Category Archives: Famous People

A Thanksgiving Roast

Have you ever seen a roast on Comedy Central? The “roasted” individual typically sits in a throne-like chair on a raised platform, as comedians take turns making fun of him (and of Turkey on a throneeach other) in front of a live audience. The guest of honor then has the opportunity to rebut the merciless put-downs that have been hurled at him throughout the event.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to put the holiday itself on the dais. Over the years, comedians have certainly viewed Turkey Day as fair game, and the Internet is a veritable cornucopia of their insults. So, if you will, please imagine a plump turkey (possibly wearing a Pilgrim hat and holding an “Eat Chicken” sign) on a stage, gobbling graciously as it is lambasted.

  • Johnny Carson: “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”
  • David Letterman: “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and goes, ‘Here, kitty, kitty.’”
  • Jay Leno: “Thanksgiving: when the Indians said, ‘Well, this has been fun, but we know you have a long voyage back to England.’”
  • Jon Stewart: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”
  • Dylan Brody: “You know that just before that first Thanksgiving dinner there was one wise, old Native American woman saying, ‘Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they’ll never leave.’”
  • Roseanne Barr: “Here I am 5 o’clock in the morning stuffing breadcrumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”
  • Kevin James: “Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Unlike the ordinary “roastee,” a holiday cannot defend itself. Yet many eloquent individuals have, in effect, told the aforementioned comics to shut their pie holes:

  • H. U. Westermayer: “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”
  • Robert C. Linter: “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”
  • Edward Sandford Martin: “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
  • Wilbur D. Nesbit: “Forever on Thanksgiving Day / The heart will find the pathway home.”

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Famous Last Words

Death Bed

The average person speaks millions of words in a lifetime, most of them mundane, but some, hopefully, profound. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think I’d like to go out on a high note. If I were on my deathbed and happened to say something pithy, wise, or clever, I might just shut up after that. Through the years, the last words uttered by famous people have been recorded and collected. Maybe we hope that those on the verge of death acquire an expanded vision of life, and we can learn from their final observations. Here is a sampling:

  • John Quincy Adams: “This is the last of earth! I am content.”
  • Bing Crosby: “That was a great game of golf, fellas.”
  • Louis XIV: “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?”
  • Karl Marx: “Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
  • Sir Walter Raleigh: “I have a long journey to take, and must bid the company farewell.”
  • Salvador Dalí: “I do not believe in my death.”
  • Michael Jackson: “I love you more.”
  • Nostradamus: “Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here.”
  • P. T. Barnum: “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
  • Emily Dickinson: “I must go in; the fog is rising.”
  • Dominique Bouhours (French grammarian): “I am about to—or I am going to—die: either expression is correct.”
  • Steve Jobs: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

About two weeks before my father died, it was arranged that a hospice worker would be with him 24 hours a day. When Walter arrived, he checked the paperwork, which indicated that Dad was unconscious. Still, Walter approached him in the manner he would any patient: “Hello, Mr. Greenfield. My name is Walter. How are you today?” “I feel fine!” came the startling reply. Those were the last words anyone reported hearing my father speak. I may be biased, but I think they hold up to the ones attributed to famous people.

In fact, Mom is considering putting them on his gravestone.