[Ads-l] The peasants are revolting (Comic: The Wizard of Id)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 20 12:00:02 EDT 2017

This post was made in response to Fred's request for famous quotes
from comic strips. This topic is complicated enough that I think a
separate discussion thread will be helpful.

The double-meaning of the phrase "The peasants are revolting" was
featured in the comic strip "The Wizard of Id". Here is a piece in
"The Philadelphia Inquirer" that mentioned the joke within an
introduction to the comic before its debut in syndication. Apparently,
the strip with the joke was created before the debut and shown to
potential distributors, but I am not sure of the date it was

Date: November 8, 1964
Newspaper: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Newspaper Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Article: Comic Strip Makes Debut
Section 2, Quote Page 1, Column 1
Database; Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
A magic potion of medieval merriment, a new comic strip entitled "The
Wizard of Id," will be offered to Inquirer readers six days weekly
starting Monday.

The comic is straight from the Dark Ages-but its satirical,
tongue-in-cheek views of royalty somehow never made the formal history

There is the King of Id—"a tyrant's tyrant" — who, when told the
peasants are "revolting," calmly replies, "You can say THAT again."

Readers will get such lines daily in "The Wizard of Id," the creation
of the team of Brant Parker and Johnny Hart.
[End excerpt]

There is another wrinkle. The joke is closely associated with the
comic strip, but it was circulating years before the strip was
syndicated. Here's an instance from 1958.

Date: January 30, 1958
Newspaper: The Ithaca Journal
Newspaper Location: Ithaca, New York
Article: Short Takes
Quote Page 2, Column 7
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Here's a tricky one that can backfire when being relayed to the boss:
The messenger rushed in and told the king:
"The peasants are revolting."
"Revolting," said the king, "they're disgusting."
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik has a valuable entry on the topic with a first citation
dated December 2, 1964. This instance of the quip was not in "The
Wizard of Id" and appeared a bit later than the November 8, 1964
citation I gave above.


In addition, as Barry notes, an instance was used in a Mel Brooks
movie: History of the World, Part I (1981)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list