What: Bill Cosby’s three-part comedic exegesis “Noah,” from his 1963 appearance on The Tonight Show and his debut album Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow…Right!, from which this version comes.

Why: Let’s see: a black man in 1963 mocking the Bible on national TV. Yeah, that guy had better be damn funny. And turns out, he was. Bill Cosby had been on The Tonight Show the show before, but in Carson’s first season, Cosby floored America with a slightly non-canonical version of the Flood. Cosby’s eponymous carpenter is sawing away (“vroobah, vroobah, vroobah”) when he is tasked by God (“ding!”) to build an ark in his yard. After some confusion over who he’s talking to and what exactly a cubit is, Noah starts in on the ark, to the ridicule of his late-for-work neighbor. While Noah deals with the last animal pairings, the Lord notices a flaw in his hippo allocation, leading to an argument over gender-reassignment surgery and the validity of divine prophecy. But a few raindrops enlighten Noah to the Lord’s point of view, and the destruction of civilization can begin apace.

Impact: “Noah” anchored Cosby’s debut album, catapulting him into the highest strata of standup comedians. In 1965, Cosby became the first African-American to star on a TV drama, NBC’s I Spy; later he starred in three of the most popular shows of all time, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Electric Company, and The Cosby Show. But he never left the stage, creating memorable routine after memorable routine. Now he’s the choice interview on the sideline of a football game, or the trustworthy father figure telling kids to stay in school. That’s how national treasures are made.

Personal Connection: I seem to have had the 1969 compilation album The Best of Bill Cosby when it came out, well before I could recognize the alphabet, and certainly before I perceived of anything called “the Bible.” So it’s at least statistically possible that Bill Cosby was the first person to teach me of the putative existence of God. If I ever meet the Supreme Being, my first sentence will likely be, “Okay, Lord, me and you, right?”

Other Contenders: Bob Newhart chronicles Madison Avenue’s invention of Abe Lincoln; George Carlin contrasts the differences between baseball and football; Steve Martin suggests how you can be a millionaire and never pay taxes; Eddie Murphy wants some ice cream, he wants some ice cream; Eddie Izzard wonders if you’d prefer cake or death?; Bill Hicks has a question for fundamentalists about dinosaurs.