“Dr. Seuss Bible” is a sketch by the Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall, whose eponymous TV show aired late-night on three networks from 1989 to 1994. Even though CBC, HBO, and CBS all had rights to the show, only HBO chose to air this particular episode, due to anticipated controversy. And so “Dr. Seuss Bible”—the final sketch of season 1, episode 20—aired only once, in 1990 on HBO. And even though the network’s editing was and is much lighter than that of other networks, it still insisted on removing a shot of a nail going through Jesus’ hand, and it dubbed over the profanity that he utters in response.
When I was in middle school, I remember receiving the text from this sketch as a forwarded e-mail (I forget from whom). I remember being amused and even sharing it with a few others. Here it is:
One day God said, “This is what I will do.
I’ll send down my son, I’ll send him to you,
To clear up this humpity bumpity hullabaloo.
His name will be Christ and he’ll never wear shoes.
And his pals will all call him the King of the Jews!”
He didn’t come in a plane,
He didn’t come in a jeep,
He didn’t come in the pouch
Of a high-jumping vo veep.
He road on the back of a black sassatoo,
Which is the blackiest creature you ever could view.
He road to Jerusalem, home of the grumpity Jews,
Where false prophets were worshiped, some even in twos.
There was Murray von Muir and Genghis Vo Vooze,
The one you could worship by taking a snooze.
Christ spoke from a mound,
Which is a pile of ground,
And people gathered around
Without making a sound.
Thus he spake:
“Sin in socks, socks full of sin.
How do we quiet this Jehovity din?
Do unto others as they do unto you!
That includes you, young Timothy Foo!”
One Pharisee said to another he knew,
“What shall we do with this uppity Jew?”
“We can wash him in wine and make him all clean,
And into Sam Zittle’s crucifixion machine!”
Twirl the gawhirl and release the gavlease,
And in go the nails as fast as you please.
And it is said, that he said as he bled,
“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,
For they walk through this life in toe-crampity shoes.”
Because the e-mail was sent from a Christian, it concluded with some sort of cute, general statement about God’s love to us through Christ. I chuckled and smiled and then thought reverently for a moment on Christ’s gospel.
But now that I know that this story originated on late-night TV, from a comedy group known for its parodic mocking of religion, I have to rethink my initial reading of it. Watching this video of Dave Foley as the Cat in the Hat, reading from the Gospel of Seuss, was still enjoyable for me—but only up until the crucifixion shots. There’s just something uncomfortable about hearing people laughing while Jesus is being crucified, especially in this context, in which the storyteller is making fun as well. The laughter and scoffing of witnesses justifiably offended the few followers of Jesus who stood at his cross all those centuries ago, who grieved as others teased, and it still offends today. Knowing that such a tragic event is taken so lightly, and is so misunderstood.
Foley told the Los Angeles Times in 1992, “The whole point of the sketch was raising the issue of some religious groups who were using regular children’s stuff—like Archie’s comic books—to suddenly present kids with some hidden religious message.”
According to this quote, the comedians weren’t necessarily trying to say that the Bible is a load of nonsense, though some have interpreted it that way, and that could very well have been a secondary intent. But primarily, they were criticizing the way that Christian parents indoctrinate their kids.