In video: Genius Moments '08

Sarah Silverman's bedroom farce

More than six million people have seen Sarah Silverman's "I'm fucking Matt Damon" video on YouTube, but like many viewers outside the US, we British really didn't have a clue why the US comedienne and actor were singing about shagging "on the bed, on the floor, on a towel by the door..." Still, he's easy on the eye, she's not bad herself, and the vid was funny enough for us to figure out the back-story: that the video was an in-joke involving Silverman's on-off boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, which was itself part of a longer-running in-joke about Damon storming off Kimmel's chat show, and that Kimmel responded to Silverman's song and video with his own, "I'm fucking Ben Affleck" . Do keep up.



Don't get Sarko with me, sunshine

The Cuban-heeled premier was being filmed glad-handing farmers at a Paris agricultural show when one bystander told him not to touch him. "Casse toi alors, pauvre con, va," came the angry response. The words did three things: offend a people already falling out of love with the president; make the video a web hit (now well over six million views); and challenge Paris correspondents' translation skills. Sarkozy's insult meant, variously, "Go away, you bloody idiot," "Get lost, you sad git," "Get away, you stupid jerk," and, from The Independent's John Lichfield, "Sod off, you arsehole, get lost."



...and now over to the giggling Ms Green

A Charlotte Green fit of the giggles on the Today programme, and a vintage one. Following the broadcast of a snatch of the earliest known sound recording, a murky blast of someone "singing" Au Clair de la Lune from 1860, Green lost her composure. The problem was that she corpsed in the middle of an item commemorating the death of screenwriter Abby Mann. James Naughtie did the gallant thing and stepped in to rescue her. The BBC switchboard registered, it was reported, 33 appreciations of Green's breakdown.



No strings attached

Manners are not dead, certainly in the world of classical music. A Grammy-nominated violinist, Philippe Quint, left a 285-year-old Stradivarius valued at £2m in the back of a New York cab. The next day, the driver, Mohamed Khalil, tracked him down and returned the instrument in question. The musician gave Khalil a $100 tip, but feeling it wasn't enough he went back to Newark Liberty Airport to perform a 30-minute concert for a crowd of around 200 cabbies in the taxi waiting area.



The pluck of the Irish

Well, no one can accuse the Irish of lacking a sense of humour. In February, this year the nation voted a puppet bird to represent them at the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in May. Dustin the Turkey's version of "Irelande Douze Pointe", a parody of the Eurovision voting system, secured him a place at the top of the pecking order, beating off a host of other, live acts. The song was performed at the competition's May semi-final in Belgrade, but Dustin was well and truly plucked: he placed 15th out of a field of 19 and therefore failed to take his place at the final.

Karma comedian

Well-known theologian Sharon Stone offered up her thoughts at the Cannes Film Festival on the Chinese earthquake, wondering whether the cataclysm was in some way linked to China's policy towards Tibet: "I thought, is that karma? When you are not nice, bad things happen to you." For some reason, this profound observation was taken as offensive by, well, just about everyone. It was reported that Chinese distributors threatened to stop showing Stone's films, and Chinese stores removed Christian Dior posters featuring the occasional actress. Stone then proved she was not only wise but sensitive by apologising.



Hippies embrace hip hop

Beforehand, there was nothing but trepidation and acrimony. Noel Gallagher said it was wrong;disgruntled fans flooded the NME messageboards; and a week earlier some moron threw a banana skin at Lethal Bizzle at the Download festival, in what seemed like a worrying precursor of things to come. But as soon as Jay-Z stepped on stage at Glastonbury and struck up a rendition of the Oasis hit "Wonderwall", the audience went mental. And then he launched into "99 Problems" – and absolutely smashed it.



For shure, that'sh Shteve McClaren, no?

One of this year's classic YouTube clips: former England coach Steve McClaren attempts to speak his own form of "Dutch" during a local, Dutch TV interview ahead of the Champions League draw in which his new club, FC Twente, were to play. "Liverpool or Arshenal, I thought maybe one of them we would draw, and it is Arshenal, I think," he is believed to be saying. "I shay I think we are not just – what you call? – underdogsh, but masheev underdogsh. There is no expectashun."

McCain brings the house down

When a journalist asked John McCain how many houses he owned, the Republican presidential candidate hesitated. "I think – I'll have my staff get back to you," he responded on the campaign trail in New Mexico. "It's condominiums where – I'll have them get to you." The Obama campaign, which had tried to caricature McCain as out of touch due to his and his wife's vast wealth, couldn't believe their luck. They responded with an ad called "Seven", claiming that was the number of houses McCain owned. The ad closed with an image of the White House, with the voiceover intoning: "Here's ONE house America can't afford to let John McCain move into."



McCain gets his chips

You've got to love Sarah Palin. Or maybe not. Perhaps most compelling was the Katie Couric interview on CBS, in which Palin seemed so clueless that in a later Saturday Night Live sketch, Palin impressionist Tina Fey didn't need to write a script. Other YouTube nails in the McCain campaign coffin included the equally cringe-making interview with Charlie Gibson and, more recently, the post-election "Turkey" interview, in which birds were slaughtered behind an unflinching Palin, who had just pardoned a Turkey for Thanksgiving.

Schlep of honour

Where did Al Gore snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2000 US presidential election? Florida. Fast forward to this year's presidential election, and "The Great Schlep", in which the comic Sarah Silverman and chums started an internet campaign (www.thegreatschlep.com) exhorting Barack Obama supporters to "schlep" down to Florida over one weekend to explain a few basic facts to the state's famously Jewish and elderly voters: that, despite his name, Barack Hussein Obama is not a Muslim, and how much the black and Jewish communities have in common in America. Except, this being Silverman, her video took a pretty good swipe at each demographic. Did it work? Well, Florida polled Democrat. Just.

Now you see him...

A studio interview with South African MP Nhlanhla Nene, a loud crack, the longest 12 seconds of Nene's life... before he disappears from sight behind his desk. Students of slapstick, all you need to know of your noble pursuit is here in this YouTube hit.



Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy fulfilled the dreams of a million schoolboys by sprouting wings to fly from France to England. The 49-year-old former fighter pilot jumped out of a plane above Calais with a jet-propelled carbon-fibre wing strapped to his back. He rocketed across the Channel at 186mph before landing in a field near Dover. "I showed it is possible to fly a little bit like a bird," he said.

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