Tony Deyal, Contributor
Liam Gallagher is an English musician, singer and songwriter known for his erratic behaviour. When he heard that Victoria Beckham was planning to write a book, his immediate reaction was, "She can't even chew gum and walk in a straight line, let alone write a book."
This quip was first used to belittle the mental acuity of former US President Gerard Ford, who got that way because "he had played too much football without a helmet".
Ford once occupied the post of vice-president which, according to John Nance Garner, the 32nd vice-president of the US, "is not worth a bucket of warm (urine)" and "was the worst damn fool mistake I ever made".
Johnny Carson, the king of Late Night comedy, joked, "Democracy means that anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn't grow up can be vice-president."
Calvin Coolidge, the 29th vice-president, was noted for his taciturnity. In fact, when Dorothy Parker, the famous wit, told him, "Mr Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you", Coolidge replied, "You lose."
Coolidge, after hearing an opera singer's poor performance, was asked, "What do you think of the singer's execution?" He replied succinctly, "I am all for it." This is like Mahatma Gandhi's response to the question, "What do you think of Western civilisation?" His reply was, "I think it would be a good idea."
The Gallagher quip is 10th on the list of the Independent's poll of history's funniest insults. Number nine comes from the American comedienne, Bette Midler. Commenting on Princess Anne's looks, she said, "She (Princess Ann) loves nature, in spite of what it did to her."
Groucho Marx, perhaps the quickest comedian with a retort, said of an ageing actress, "She got her good looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon."
According to the website, drmardy.com, another actress ran into one of the best insults of all. Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 film Lifeboat, a drama about eight survivors of a freighter sunk by a German U-Boat, was one of the most popular films of the year (it was also nominated for three Academy Awards). While posing for publicity photographs for the film, actress Mary Anderson approached the director and asked, "What is my best side, Mr Hitchcock?" His reply, which was soon circulated all around Hollywood, was, "My dear, you're sitting on it."
While Groucho and Hitchcock were not complimentary to actresses, Elizabeth Taylor did not think too highly about the ability of male actors. Coming in at number seven in the best insults list was her comment, "Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses."
Mamie van Doren was not too appreciative of them either. Her view of Warren Beatty was, "He's the type of man who will end up dying in his own arms." Ronald Reagan, himself an actor, had this to say when he heard that Clint Eastwood, star of Every Which Way But Loose was running for the post of mayor of the town of Carmel in California: "What makes him think a middle-age actor, who's played with a chimp, could have a future in politics?" This was ironic and deliberately funny, since one of Reagan's early hit was also a monkey movie, Bedtime With Bonzo.
Not every male actor is complimentary about his brother actors. Number six on the Independent's poll is Frank Sinatra. He clearly did not like Robert Redford, about whom he said, "Well, at least he has found his true love - what a pity he can't marry himself."
Redford had other critics, like Pauline Kael, perhaps the best movie critic of all time. She said, "He has turned almost alarmingly blond - he's gone past platinum, he must be plutonium; his hair is coordinated with his teeth."
Winston Churchill, who came first in the poll, also got the fifth spot. He was on the toilet and was told that the appropriately named official, the Lord Privy Seal, wanted to speak to him urgently. Churchill's forced by forceful response was: "Tell him I can only deal with one st at a time."
Fourth was musician Noel Gallagher, whose biting comment on Robbie Williams really stung, "You mean that fat dancer from 'Take That'?" Liberace, the pianist, came third with his retort to a critic, "Thank you for your very amusing review. After reading it, I laughed all the way to the bank."
Surprisingly, Barack Obama took second place with his comment on Sarah Palin. She had said that the only difference between a pitbull and a soccer mom was lipstick. He replied, "You can put lipstick on a pig ... it's still a pig."
First was the man who, for me, was the greatest of them all -
However, what won him the prize for the best insult was his response to Bessie Braddock, who, like Lady Astor, accused him of drunkenness. Churchill said, "I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."
Tony Deyal was last seen saying that while the golden age of insults may have passed, this modern one, though coarse, is still good: "Your family tree is a cactus because everybody on it is a prick."