The pie in the face is a classic comedy device, so classic that you might think it’s of ancient origin. While it may have a precusor somewhere in the past, in reality it only dates back to 1911. It originated not with Max Sennett or Charlie Chaplin, but with William Hammerstein (son of Oscar Hammerstein). When Chaplin was with the Fred Karno troupe, he would play the part of a rowdy drunk in the audience, employing the physical comedy he would become famous for. During the act, he would knock over a boy, another actor in the troupe. Hammerstein suggested knocking the boy over with a pie. The audience loved it, and a cliché was born. Chaplin later worked for Max Sennett, who took the pie bit and made it a comedy fixture

Not only has a pie in the face become a staple of what user Gamaliel describes as a classic comedy device, as the years have gone by it has grown into an art form to make certain political statements.

Foregoing the likes of Bugs Bunny, Charlie Chaplin, Soupy Sales and The Three Stooges who relied on the pie as part of a slapstick routine, a Yippie by the name of Aron Kay stepped to the pie hurling forefront when he nailed anti gay activist and former Miss America Anita Bryant in the kisser in Des Moines, Iowa way back in 1977. In an attempt to diffuse the heated situation and take further aim at her gay rivals, Ms. Bryant later declared that at least she had been hit by a “fruit” pie.

Amongst other notables that Mr. Kay managed to notch on his pie throwing belt were such luminaries as conservative pundit William S. Burroughs, Jr. (cream pie), Watergate figures G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt (both apple pie), pretentious artist Andy Warhol (cherry pie), anti feminist activist Phyliss Schlafly (apple pie), Governor Jerry Brown of California (custard pie), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (mocha cream pie), ex CIA Director William Colby (two pies and four eggs), former Mayor of New York City Abe Beame, (a big apple pie) and for some strange reason, captain of the Starship Enterprise, William Shatner.

Kay finally called it quits in 1992 when he pied one Randall Terry, a right wing activist.

Lucky for us, his legend lives on. His most famous successor is one Noël Godin, a Belgian who managed to get Bill Gates and famed actor director Jean Luc-Godard. Godin also claims to have the likes of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, John Travolta and Tom Cruise on his hit list.

Success breeds success as more and more splinter groups began forming and taking aim at other notables. A group by the name of the Bionic Baking Brigade has failed in its attempt to pie Ann Coulter (true to her bitch-like nature, she would later press charges even though the pie missed). They gained a measure of revenge when they successfully pied fellow neocon David Horowitz. Showing that all’s fair in love and pies, they next nabbed Green Party leader Ralph Nader and in perhaps their coup de grace, all around scumbag Fred Phelps.

While most of the recipients have taken their tossing and showed some grace and a sense of humor along the way, others have not. Most outspoken against this form of attack was the aforementioned David Horowitz. When asked to comment on his “attack”, here’s what he had to say.

” These attacks are sinister. The person who throws a pie is saying, ‘I hate you. I don't want you to speak.' I never saw it coming. And it took away my dignity. When you're lecturing, you're supposed to have an authority. But a pie turns it into a food fight.

If you ask me, for that statement alone, he deserves another.


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