Bad line or worst line ever?
1 of 10
Paul Revere Division
Paul Revere had just discovered that someone in Boston was a spy for the British, and when he saw the young woman believed to be the spy’s girlfriend in an Italian restaurant he said to the waiter, “Hold the spumoni – I’m going to follow the chic an’ catch a Tory.”
“One if by land and two if by sea, but what do three lanterns mean,” Paul Revere asked out loud, not knowing that the three lanterns meant something was arriving by air, but the alien creatures in the flying machine certainly weren’t British.
ANSWER: This line, written by John L. Ashman, won in 1995 This line, written by John L. Ashman, won in 1995
2 of 10
Anyone could see the anger slowly rising in her eyes, like porridge being brought to a boil, the bubbles creeping up to the surface, then exploding in unsatisfying pops until the one big one that makes a mess of the entire kitchen, and that’s the one she was working on when she shouted, “Which one of you slept with my husband and left this shoe behind?”
As the newest Lady Turnpot descended into the kitchen wrapped only in her celery-green dressing gown, her creamy bosom rising and falling like a temperamental soufflé, her tart mouth pursed in distaste, the sous-chef whispered to the scullery boy, “I don’t know what to make of her.”
ANSWER: This line, written by Laurel Fortuner, won in 1992 This line, written by Laurel Fortuner, won in 1992
3 of 10
Breaking Up is Hard to Do Division
On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull come off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained.
Having abandoned her boyfriend at the train station, Ursula St. Marie-Jaquelette finally felt she could get a fresh start and she imagined her life being swept by a street cleaner, the giant rotating bristles pushing away the cigarette butts and yellow leaves and empty cans and hamburger wrappers and used condoms and used needles and abandoned business cards and broken bottles and ripped shopping bags and spilled coffee cups that Brian had so carelessly left behind, littering her heart.
ANSWER: This line, written by Rephah Berg, won in 2002 This line, written by Rephah Berg, won in 2002
4 of 10
Urine Luck Division
Gerald began – but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them “permanently” meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava of suffocated by choking ash – to pee.
Julia Beckenridge sat next to Bobby McKay at the movie theater and when he raised the arm rest that acted as a wall between them, she felt so overcome with excitement that she might burst, as though she were a bladder and her excitement were pee and it was the morning after a night of heavy drinking, where the urination is a long, pleasurable release that still carries the distinct stench of asparagus from last night’s dinner.
ANSWER: This line, written by Jim Gleeson, won in 2007 This line, written by Jim Gleeson, won in 2007
5 of 10
Loose Lips Sink Ships Division
Her tongue snaked out and the tip appeared on her top lip, the first of two plump, crimson beauties that Cole Porter should have written a song about, but in her young age Porter had been long gone, but maybe John Lennon could have written it just before his death.
“Ace, watch your head!” hissed Wanda urgently, yet somehow provocatively, through red, full, sensuous lips, but he couldn’t you know, since nobody can actually watch more than part of his nose or a little cheek or lips if he really tries, but he appreciated her warning.
ANSWER: This line, written by Janice Estey, won in 1996 This line, written by Janice Estey, won in 1996
6 of 10
'I'm a Zit, Get it?' Division
As I gargled and spit I looked in the mirror and saw on my face a zit and I had to sit and reflect for a bit on the awful night that awaited me, when my pants didn’t fit and my cheek I had slit shaving, and as a sweat stain formed on my pit I felt I should quit and call my date and tell her to flit off to the prom without me, but then I remembered my grandmother’s wit and that she would hit me and call me a twit if I tried to quit and that’s all she writ, so I got up and found the exit and met my date, zit and all.
Professor Frobisher couldn’t believe he had missed seeing it for so long – it was, after all, right there under his nose – but in all his years of research into the intricate and mysterious ways of the universe, he had never noticed that the freckles on his upper lip, just below and to the left of the nostril, partially hidden until now by a hairy mole he had just removed a week before, exactly matched the pattern of the stars in the Pleides, down to the angry red zit that had just popped up where he and his colleagues had only today discovered an exploding nova.
ANSWER: This line, written by Ray C. Gainey, won in 1989 This line, written by Ray C. Gainey, won in 1989
7 of 10
Ape Romance Division
The countdown had stalled at T minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick, rubbery lips unmistakably – the first of many such advances during what would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my career.
I couldn’t decide which was more shocking – that my sister had brought a fully-grown ape from deep in the jungle as her date to my 26th birthday party or that the ape was so polite, using his opposable thumb to pick up his tenth pig-in-a-blanket, which he had dropped on my shag rug, while gesturing for carpet cleaner to make sure the dipping sauce didn’t leave a mustard-yellow stain that would have surely ruined the baby blue rug.
ANSWER: This line, written by Martha Simpson, won in 1985 This line, written by Martha Simpson, won in 1985
8 of 10
Swallowing a Bitter Pill Division
Lynn opened her mouth and placed on it the pill and, thinking that the pill had an unusual taste that was reminiscent of fried chicken but still had a bitter touch, as though the fried chicken had been seasoned with the bitter herbs from the Passover seder, swallowed, but as she did noticed that it had a sweet taste as it passed over her tongue, like she had moved on from the main course to dessert, and gagged once, thinking that nothing tasted right and the musty smell in the bathroom was making her sick and that she might collapse before this headache passed, finally swallowed the pill for good and felt it slide down her throat like a slick tugboat towing pain relief behind it.
The moment he laid eyes on the lifeless body of the nude socialite sprawled across the bathroom floor, Detective Leary knew she had committed suicide by grasping the cap on the tamper-proof bottle, pushing down and twisting while she kept her thumb firmly pressed against the spot the arrow pointed to, until she hit the exact spot where the tab clicks into place, allowing her to remove the cap and swallow the entire contents of the bottle, thus ending her life.
ANSWER: This line, written by Artie Kalemeris, won in 1997 This line, written by Artie Kalemeris, won in 1997
9 of 10
Martha Stewart Division
Rebecca couldn’t help but be entranced by the way Dr. Splotch dissected the fetal pig, folding back to flaps of skin like he was a pre-jail Martha Stewart making a faux pinecone out of tissue paper and a bobby pin, and even though this studio smelled like formaldehyde instead of a gentle autumn mix of potpourri, Dr. Splotch still approached his craft with the same loving attention as Martha would and Rebecca suddenly found herself wishing she was that fetal pig, being gently picked apart by those soft hands.
She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight. . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp’s tail . . . though the term “love affair” now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike “sand vein,” which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn’t sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon.
ANSWER: This line, written by Dave Zobel, won in 2004 This line, written by Dave Zobel, won in 2004
10 of 10
I stepped off the plane, that glorious flying machine, in Pittsburgh, the gaudy chartreuse urn that contained my brother’s ashes in my hands and his dying wish that the ashes be scattered in his old Pittsburgh flat echoing in my head and I knew that before I could embark on that journey, which I felt could only result in a romantic encounter with a stranger or a mugging in some back alley that would leave me stranded and penniless in Pennsylvania, I would have to stop at the food court and get a greasy slice of pizza, because I might not get to eat for a very, very long time.
The notes blatted skyward as the sun rose over the Canada geese, feathered rumps mooning the day, webbed appendages frantically peddling unseen bicycles in their search for sustenance, driven by Nature’s maxim, “Ya wanna eat, ya gotta work,” and at last I knew Pittsburgh.
ANSWER: This line, written by Sheila B. Richter, won in 1987 This line, written by Sheila B. Richter, won in 1987