View Full Version : Is Shakespeare ever funny?


Lord Baal
Feb 26, 2010, 10:52 PM
Moved from the thread in Site Feedback.

This thread makes me want to go back and read some Shakespeare. I hated the man in school, but that's likely because a) they forced us to read him, and b) they picked the worst stuff he ever wrote every time.

Valka D'Ur
Feb 27, 2010, 04:27 AM
^ That's great that you're considering trying some Shakespeare again. :goodjob: From experience, I can say that reading/watching Shakespeare because you WANT to, rather than because you are required to for the sake of your report card, is rather fun. The first time I ever saw Shakespeare performed live was at the local theatre by a traveling troupe from BC. They did "Twelfth Night" in the most traditional way, and it was absolutely marvelous! The major complaint most people have is that they can't wrap their minds around the language, but when you see the actions and expressions that go along with the language, everything becomes so much more understandable and meaningful. I'd never even read that play and so had almost no idea of what the story was about, but I learned as the play went along... and have rarely laughed so much in my life! :lol:

Plotinus
Feb 27, 2010, 11:18 AM
Off-Topic alert:

Even Shakespeare wrote comedies...

Yes, and good God, have you read them? As Punt and Dennis put it: they may not seem funny now - and they weren't funny back then either.

I don't know why people continue to insist, in the fact of four centuries of stony-faced audiences enduring endless puns about horns, that Shakespeare's comedies are funny. Here is a passage which I think is worth quoting from The art of coarse acting by Michael Green, who puts the case pretty definitively:

Some day I should like to run a competition to find out the unfunniest clown in Shakespeare. There's a lot of choice, from that dreadful Launcelot Gobbo to the superlatively unfunny Feste. Nobody can make me believe that even the groundlings laughed at them, unless, as I suspect, the dire lines were enlivened by rude gestures.

Unfortunately amateur producers are never honest about this. Professional producers are rarely under any such illusion. They cover up the lines with business.* But instead of admitting that the clowns are a dreary lot, amateurs insist that they are hilarious, against all the evidence of the script. As a last resort the producer will say that Shakespeare did not intend this clown to be funny, he meant him to be pathetic.

During a production of Twelfth Night, in which I had the misfortune to play Fabian, the producer carefully explained that Feste was the elderly clown on his way out, which was why his jokes weren't funny, and Fabian was the young up-and-coming clown. I pointed out that this theory broke down because Fabian was even more unfunny than Feste, so if he represented the tops in court wit they must have had a lean time of it. But I could not convince him. I remember one line in particular:

"Sowter will cry out on't, though it be rank as a fox."

Every time we came to that in rehearsal I said, "Look, surely you don't really believe that's funny, do you?" and the producer would assume an air of pitying superiority and say: "It's actually extremely amusing to someone who understands it. It's simply the way you're saying it."

I tried every way of saying that wretched line. I said, "Sowter will cry out on it," and I said, "Sowter will cry out on it," and I said, "Sowter will cry out on it," and it still fell on the audience like a lump of suet pudding, until one evening I delivered it as usual and there was a great shout of laughter from the back of the hall.

For just a moment I thought I had triumphed over the Bard, when I realized that there was something familiar about the laughter. I glanced off stage and saw that the stage manager was not in his seat. He had collected every spare person, crept in at the back of the auditorium and organized a claque for the line. After that the real audience became convinced they were missing something and howled all through the show. The only person who didn't think it funny was the producer.

Personally I should have thought he would have been gratified, but producers are strange people.

One is tempted to the theory that Shakespeare himself was a Coarse Actor. At any rate he was certainly experienced in Coarse Acting, as Hamlet's advice to the players shows: "And let not those that play the clowns say more than is set down for them." It seems to me quite obvious that Will Kemp and one or two others had got tired of those corny old jokes about sowter and horns and French tailors and started putting in some real gags. And after playing some of the clowns' parts I must say I don't blame them.

* I refuse to believe, however, that any intelligent Elizabethan really played with that stupid cup and ball.

Returning vaguely to the point, there is no reason why there cannot be jolly banter and humour on the forum. Problems arise when people mistake other things for jolly banter and humour, such as (in no particular order): mocking other people, exchanging tedious in-jokes that only two other people understand, quoting Monty Python, or being curtly dismissive.

Lone Wolf
Feb 27, 2010, 11:29 AM
Yes, and good God, have you read them? As Punt and Dennis put it: they may not seem funny now - and they weren't funny back then either.

I don't know why people continue to insist, in the fact of four centuries of stony-faced audiences enduring endless puns about horns, that Shakespeare's comedies are funny.

I found The Twelfth Night very unfunny and annoying (past tense 'cause I can't even remember the plot right now), but I actually like Much Ado About Nothing. Maybe I should thank the Russian translator for this.

Valka D'Ur
Feb 27, 2010, 11:41 AM
Hmm... I enjoy Twelfth Night, and absolutely love Much Ado About Nothing. But to be honest, I'm not sure how I would feel about them if I'd read them before seeing them on stage or the Kenneth Branagh movie.

We need to remember that humor varies from person to person, and from culture to culture. I'm sure that if any "olden days" performances of Romeo and Juliet had the kids do a nude scene, the audience would have been outraged, not found it funny. But when the play was performed at Red Deer College and the actors were obviously nude in the bedroom scene, some people in the audience laughed. I'm not sure if that's because they thought it funny, or whether it was nervous laughter because a genuinely nude scene was unexpected.

Anyway, all this Shakespeare discussion would make a terrific thread on its own, I think. :)

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 05:20 AM
Awesome, I've now started a thread without trying.

For the record, for anyone who wants to give me advice on what Shakespeare plays to read, I thoroughly enjoyed Macbeth, found Hamlet quite good, yet hated Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew. Perhaps that's just my innate dislike of romances, but I've enjoyed many sci-fi romances - Travels With My Cats comes to mind, though that's more of a fantasy, even if Walter Jon Williams is a sci-fi author - so I think it's more than the genre.

Camikaze
Feb 28, 2010, 05:25 AM
From experience, I can say that reading/watching Shakespeare because you WANT to, rather than because you are required to for the sake of your report card, is rather fun.

I should hope so, for the sheer fact that there must be some reason why they subject people to it (solely referring to the comedies, or attempts thereof). My personal experiences with studying Shakespearean comedy are The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. All forced upon me at various times throughout high school (so yeah, there's probably something in the 'forced' bit). None of them are in the least bit humorous in any other way than in what could be described as WTF humour (funnies generated by the sheer absurdity of what is being written). I can't really remember any of these other than As You Like It in great detail, but it seemed the majority of what was attempted to be humour was innuendo (which would seem validated by the fact that an awful lot of the clarification foot notes in the edition the school gave us cited books solely dedicated to innuendo and sex in Shakespeare). It's seemed like 400 year old Benny Hill. Sure, there are moments of some real humour, but they seem to be merely moments, and hardly qualify the works as quality comedies, unless 'Shakespearean comedy' is meant to have some sort of differing definition to 'comedy' (and a quick search of wikipedia would suggest I am, although there is still meant to be a basis of humour, which seems to be severely lacking).

I do have to note though, that the As You Like It movie (I think it was the '92 version) was absolutely hilarious, even if only for the wrestling scene, the ridiculous costuming and hideous moustaches.

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 05:34 AM
Do you have something against the comic genius of Benny Hill?

Lone Wolf
Feb 28, 2010, 05:41 AM
I've just realized I've confused "The Twelfth Night" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in my previous post here. No wonder - I'm already 19 and my mind is not what it used to be back in the days...

Plotinus
Feb 28, 2010, 06:39 AM
It's true that "comedy", in reference to Shakespeare, doesn't mean precisely the same thing as it does normally; I think the idea is that the subject and treatment is fairly light, rather than necessarily supposed to be funny. Like Last of the summer wine. Not that that is much of a recommendation. At any rate, I'm sure that A midsummer night's dream is not really meant to be funny, more a sort of whimsical escapist fantasy. Twelfth night is supposed to be funny, at least parts of it, but it's the sort of humour that revolves around (a) malicious bullying and (b) characters with silly names, neither of which is really all that funny.

However, Shakespeare does get an award for Worst Gag Of All Time, which is actually from Othello:

CASSIO: Dost thou hear me, mine honest friend?
CLOWN: No, I hear not your honest friend. I hear you.

(Pause as medics cart away audience members unable to stop roaring with laughter.)

I draw a veil over the rest of Act III, Scene 1, from which this priceless exchange is taken; fortunately Iago comes in shortly after this and the sketch is put out of its misery.

Shylock
Feb 28, 2010, 10:31 AM
I don't find Shakespeare funny but then again it was written for different people in a different time.

Valka D'Ur
Feb 28, 2010, 02:43 PM
It's true that "comedy", in reference to Shakespeare, doesn't mean precisely the same thing as it does normally; I think the idea is that the subject and treatment is fairly light, rather than necessarily supposed to be funny. Like Last of the summer wine. Not that that is much of a recommendation. At any rate, I'm sure that A midsummer night's dream is not really meant to be funny, more a sort of whimsical escapist fantasy. Twelfth night is supposed to be funny, at least parts of it, but it's the sort of humour that revolves around (a) malicious bullying and (b) characters with silly names, neither of which is really all that funny.
Shakespeare's plays are best appreciated when you can actually see them performed, as opposed to merely reading them. Some of the comedy seems pretty flat on the page, but once you have actors speaking the lines and performing the actions, the humor comes out.

That said, A Midsummer Night's Dream is definitely not what I would consider a comedy. I found nothing funny about it at all, but I am willing to concede that I may have a bias against it because I worked backstage and on the catwalks above the stage when Red Deer College put it on. Actually, the best memory I have of working on that play was that I learned how to use an electric sander in the scene shop at the college (to take the modern paint off the broomsticks we were going to use). Oh, and cutting dry prickle-bush branches to use in another scene. This was in March, and we needed sharp twigs with no leaves. So I put on heavy gloves, got out my pruning shears, and cut a boxful of twigs off the bushes in our front yard. Since I was in a sufficiently rotten mood over the whole play, I opted for a somewhat painful solution... :devil:

My first introduction to The Taming of the Shrew was when I worked backstage on a production of Kiss Me, Kate. That's a musical about a group of actors putting on a performance of The Taming of the Shrew. It was loads of fun, and I was inspired to try to read the original Shakespeare play. I still have yet to see it performed properly by itself, though.

Twelfth Night is basically a soap opera, with the mistaken identity angle. The first performance I ever saw of this play was excellent, and the actors playing Viola and Sebastian actually did look enough alike that they could have been twins. Hilarity ensues when Viola gets challenged to a duel by somebody who thinks she's Sebastian, and somebody else thinks Sebastian is Viola and everybody is in love with the wrong person because of mistaken identities and misunderstandings... :crazyeye: Well, I found it hilarious.

_random_
Feb 28, 2010, 05:12 PM
I played Thurio in a high school production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, and I think a lot of the humor comes from exactly how it's performed. The script gave the actors a lot of room to be hilarious, but it could fall completely flat depending on who performed it. Due to a general lack of stage directions, actors are given more freedom to engage in physical comedy. In much the same way, the dialogue could be quite amusing, or merely a series of puns that nobody will catch. In short, Shakespearean comedy tends to give the actors a lot of room to be funny, but has less intrinsic artistic value than his tragedy.

scherbchen
Feb 28, 2010, 07:14 PM
shakespeare can be very funny. you have to be able to suspend your disbelief which is not that easy when you first read or watch a shakespearean play because it does seem pretty alien when you are exposed to it for the first time (which is pretty funny by itself because a sizeable amount of shakespearean plots are the core of many a hollywood movie released in the past decades, which is only fair fair because he was a thieving basterd himself. it is merely the language that gives the uninitiated problems)

then, as has been mentioned, performance and directing have an enormous impact on the enjoyability and brevity dervived from a viewing. and what is funny for somebody might be daft to another person.

Tekee
Feb 28, 2010, 09:33 PM
what about those sexual jokes in King Lear and Macbeth?
Our teacher made sure to point them out,
In Macbeth when the Porter goes "Man up and down" or something and it refers to his erection being lost?

JEELEN
Mar 01, 2010, 12:28 AM
I'd have to agree with Randomnerd10* and scherbchen here: all humour depends on the performance, c.q. performer. I don't quite see why Shakespeare should suddenly be an exception to this rule.

Personally I found

"CASSIO: Dost thou hear me, mine honest friend?
CLOWN: No, I hear not your honest friend. I hear you."

quite funny (though it will not make me laugh), because I like puns. But as with all humour, if the joke doesn't speak to you, you'll not think it funny.

As a general comment I'd like to point out that humour is a deeper subject than generally given credit for, and has been quite thoroughly studied. Contrary to what people might think, comedy is much harder to write than tragedy.

* Except for this part: "Shakespearean comedy tends to give the actors a lot of room to be funny, but has less intrinsic artistic value than his tragedy." I'd say that leaving room for actors' interpretations does not justify classifying his comedy as having less intrinsic value than his tragedy.

Plotinus
Mar 01, 2010, 02:03 AM
What comes out of all this, then, is that Shakespeare's comedies can be funny if they are performed by funny actors. To me, that says that the text itself isn't funny - the humour comes from the performance and from the talent of the actors. As in the Michael Green quote above: "Professional producers... cover up the lines with business." And yes, that goes for Macbeth's Porter with his tiresome and irrelevant mutterings about the effect of alcohol upon virility, and for all those cross-dressing scenes where we are expected to believe that a woman in a pair of trousers is utterly unrecognisable even to her closest family. Surely no-one over the age of 12 really finds this stuff funny, do they? Compare all this to a genuinely funny playwright, such as Tom Stoppard, whose work is funny even when you read it, without requiring a proper comedian to make it funny.

JEELEN
Mar 01, 2010, 05:08 AM
Hm. Something which has come up - though I did not mention it - is that all humour is also quite time bound. For instance, comparing Shakespeare with Molière I imagine most people will prefer the former over the latter (no offense intended to the French), but both authors employ humour and especially jokes that to our 'modern' taste are simply not funny, because our sense of humour has progressed since then. (Think of someone telling a joke: the first time you hear it, it may be funny, and even the second time, but there are very few jokes that stay funny beyond the third time.)

Also, comedy and tragedy are merely genres to discern between say, the lighthearted and the more serious. Yet comedy can be tragic and tragedy comic. Indeed tragedy without a sense of humour can simply be dull and tedious.

(And then ofcourse there are people who simply don't like Shakespeare... In the end it's all very personal. To be true, I personally appreciate Shakespeare for his poetry rather than for his plays.)

Lone Wolf
Mar 01, 2010, 05:18 AM
For instance, comparing Shakespeare with Molière I imagine most people will prefer the former over the latter (no offense intended to the French)

The only Molière play I truly like is The Misantrope. Ironically, it's the least comic of his plays.

Taliesin
Mar 01, 2010, 11:57 AM
Two of the funniest scenes in Shakespeare are in the Henry VI plays, which are thought his earliest. Look at Part One, V.iii, and Part Three, III.ii. The latter in particular is hilarious if done with any grace.

Dreadnought
Mar 01, 2010, 08:57 PM
While reading Taming of the Shrew, I chuckled when they said:

Kat: Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Petrucio: Women are made to bear, and so are you.

Tekee
Mar 01, 2010, 10:03 PM
While reading Taming of the Shrew, I chuckled when they said:

Kat: Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Petrucio: Women are made to bear, and so are you.

yeah this is why I have a teacher point out all the jokes for us :) It makes Shakespeare funnier. Shakespheare injects humorours lines like this :)

Glassfan
Mar 07, 2010, 12:59 AM
"Shakespeare is best read in the original Klingon..."

Sorry, I just wanted to say that several recent movie interpretations are very entertaining. Midsummernight's Dream, with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer, was very clever. Richard III with Ian McKellen and Kristen Scott Thomas, set in a 1930's Fascist England was very diverting, starting out with a ballroom version of a Marlowe sonnet. As You Like It, with Bryce Dallas Howard is the only comedy I'm aware of. But Shakespeare's comedy is not like ours - it rather seems to depend on outragous role-reversal or mistaken identities, and a lot of puns that don't make much sense to modern ears.
I'd say no, Shakespeare is not "funny" now, but he's still interesting and enjoyable.

LightSpectra
Mar 10, 2010, 09:59 PM
I've always liked this exchange in Richard III, 1.2:

GLOUCESTER.
Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither;
For he was fitter for that place than earth.

LADY ANNE.
And thou unfit for any place but hell.

GLOUCESTER.
Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.

LADY ANNE.
Some dungeon.

GLOUCESTER.
Your bed-chamber.

Lawrence Olivier's version has him saying this line utterly serious to Anne's face, whereas Ian McKellan's has him muttering it to himself.

warpus
Mar 11, 2010, 12:46 PM
This reminds me of grade 11/12 English class.

Teacher: "This part is funny"
Class: *blank stare*
Teacher: "It is satire, seee"
*crickets*

Martacus
Mar 18, 2010, 12:18 AM
Back in his day, I suppose, his "humor" was considered funny; basically sexual/scatological jokes like the ones that glut ancient Greek "comedies" to the point of choking the life out of them. I wonder if, after reading some of his randier lines, anybody ever refered to him as "Willy the low man".

...sorry. :hide:

_random_
Mar 22, 2010, 05:25 PM
Back in his day, I suppose, his "humor" was considered funny; basically sexual/scatological jokes like the ones that glut ancient Greek "comedies" to the point of choking the life out of them. I wonder if, after reading some of his randier lines, anybody ever refered to him as "Willy the low man".

...sorry. :hide:
True, he's not as high-brow as people would imagine him to be. I myself wondered why a school run by evangelicals would allow a play with so much blatant phallic imagery.

ParkCungHee
Mar 22, 2010, 10:15 PM
The second one here is relevant.
http://www.harkavagrant.com/nonsense/batchofcomicssm.png

Valka D'Ur
Mar 24, 2010, 04:26 AM
I guess I find Shakespeare funny because there are so many funny ways to use the various repertoire of Shakespearean themes. Heck, even the Flintstones had a Shakespeare-themed episode! :D

Cheezy the Wiz
Mar 25, 2010, 09:39 PM
In Macbeth when the Porter goes "Man up and down" or something and it refers to his erection being lost?

It was because he was drunk, and rambling about the things drunkenness brings.

This is the only funny line I've ever read in Shakespeare. Some things, like A Midsummer Night's Dream, are situational comedy, but that's not really a joke.

Generally, his jokes go over like this:

http://starsmedia.ign.com/stars/image/article/992/992212/ocd-family-guys-buzz-killington-20090605014351511-000.jpg

Plotinus
Mar 26, 2010, 03:07 AM
Heck, even the Flintstones had a Shakespeare-themed episode! :D

There is, perhaps, something very appropriate about that, given that the Flintstones are one of the few things less funny than Shakespeare...

JEELEN
Mar 26, 2010, 06:17 AM
:hmm: I can't help but get a sneaky suspicion that you just don't find comedy funny...

Plotinus
Mar 26, 2010, 06:45 AM
I love comedy. But The Flintstones just doesn't do it for me. Sorry!

holy king
Mar 26, 2010, 07:12 AM
it's for kids. kids are stupid and will laugh about anything.

Lord Baal
Mar 26, 2010, 07:30 AM
it's for kids. kids are stupid and will laugh about anything.
True. Children are so stupid they actually think the bastardisation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a good television show. They shouldn't be allowed to watch television until they reach a certain intellectual level.

Valka D'Ur
Mar 26, 2010, 03:16 PM
*sigh* :(

Plotinus, what do you find funny? :confused:

The Flintstones was essentially an animated sitcom that was based on the old Honeymooners show. I've seen some episodes of that, and to me it wasn't that funny. The Flintstones was much funnier. And the Shakespeare-themed episode in question was a situation where Wilma got Fred, Barney, and Betty involved in a local production of Romeo and Juliet. Fred directed it, Wilma played Juliet, Betty was the Nurse, and Barney was Romeo. The humor came about when Barney realized that Fred secretly really wanted to play Romeo, so he faked a case of mumps on opening night, forcing Fred to step into the role. Fred knew the lines, but unexpected things can happen when stage fright takes over... :lol:

Plotinus
Mar 27, 2010, 02:54 AM
Well, put it like this - seeing The Flintstones when you're thoroughly used to The Simpsons doesn't do it any favours. That is something I find funny, as are Frasier, Red Dwarf, Mitchell and Webb, Spaced, The Office (I think the American version if it's pure funniness we're talking about), Fry and Laurie, Father Ted, and above all at the moment, Adam and Joe.

Now perhaps, four centuries from now, people will scratch their heads and wonder how anyone could have found all of that stuff funny. Perhaps...!

JEELEN
Mar 27, 2010, 05:02 AM
Good to hear. ;) (Although for the life of me I can't imagine why anyone prefers the Simpsons over the Flintstones, but I guess that's personal.)

Valka D'Ur
Mar 27, 2010, 11:36 AM
JEELEN, I have found a kindred spirit! :love:

@Plotinus: We will have to agree to disagree, obviously, as I don't understand why anybody would find the Simpsons funny. As for the rest of your list, of the ones I've heard of, I don't find them funny either.

My humor runs to Canadian political satire, ie. Rick Mercer, Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and I loved the Wayne & Shuster shows.

Also, of the British comedies, I enjoy Are You Being Served?, Good Neighbors, Keeping Up Appearances, Blackadder, and (so help me) Benny Hill. And I am the only woman I know of on the entire planet who understands and enjoys the Red Green Show. :lol:

I enjoy clever satires and parodies that are funny, yet respectful of the original material on which it is based. That's why Robin Hood: Men in Tights makes me laugh, as do some parodies of Shakespeare and bible stories (ie. Wayne & Shuster's Shakespearean Baseball and Rinse the Blood Off My Toga, and Wholly Moses!).

Plotinus
Mar 27, 2010, 11:48 AM
That's interesting, as I can't imagine how anyone could not find The Simpsons funny at least some of the time, even if it's not particularly their thing. I think it's easily the greatest comedy programme ever made, although it is perhaps sometimes a bit uneven, at least in the later series. But clearly humour is very much in the eye of the beholder, as this thread in general indicates.

Obviously I like Blackadder - even the first series, which most people don't like if they've ever seen it. I never saw Are you being served? much, but the whole 1970s "risque puns and jokes about homosexuals" thing doesn't really do it for me. I can't say I ever liked Keeping up appearances - it's better than some of Roy Clarke's stuff, perhaps, but that's not saying much. I have reason to thank Benny Hill since he shares a surname with me, and my parents would have called me Benjamin if he hadn't existed, and I don't like that name, so that was a narrow escape. But otherwise, definitely not for me. I haven't heard of the others!

Valka D'Ur
Mar 27, 2010, 12:03 PM
I loved the first Blackadder series. :love: Once I read up a little on the original historical context it was satirizing, I found it hilarious. And I'd watch Brian Blessed read the phone book, so that in itself was reason enough for me to enjoy it. ;)

There's a crossover fanfic of Murder, She Wrote and Keeping Up Appearances where Hyacinth is murdered. Of course, it's up to Jessica Fletcher to figure out whodunnit. :)

I've worked in a retail setting, and known people like some of the characters in Are You Being Served?. There was a ladies' wear clerk who was like a Canadian version of Mrs. Slocombe, except she only had the bad traits. Granted, some of the humor in that show is dated or politically/socially incorrect these days, but I can still suspend that enough to enjoy the show, even the 20th time around.

It's a shame you haven't heard of the Canadian comedy shows I mentioned. They're quite different from American comedy, which is mostly not that funny to me. At least the Americans who watch PBS have had a chance to see Red Green and become devoted fans. :)

JEELEN
Mar 27, 2010, 03:07 PM
JEELEN, I have found a kindred spirit! :love:

You're most welcome. Now here's a little bit that made me :lol: :

That's interesting, as I can't imagine how anyone could not find The Simpsons funny at least some of the time, even if it's not particularly their thing. I think it's easily the greatest comedy programme ever made, although it is perhaps sometimes a bit uneven, at least in the later series. But clearly humour is very much in the eye of the beholder, as this thread in general indicates.

Obviously I like Blackadder - even the first series, which most people don't like if they've ever seen it. I never saw Are you being served? much, but the whole 1970s "risque puns and jokes about homosexuals" thing doesn't really do it for me. I can't say I ever liked Keeping up appearances - it's better than some of Roy Clarke's stuff, perhaps, but that's not saying much. I have reason to thank Benny Hill since he shares a surname with me, and my parents would have called me Benjamin if he hadn't existed, and I don't like that name, so that was a narrow escape. But otherwise, definitely not for me. I haven't heard of the others!

I remember us at home watching Are you being served? almost every time it was on and the "risqué puns and jokes about homosexuals" thing didn't bother us back then (as it turned out one of my brothers was gay and he was probably the one who found it most hilarious - but he was also partial to Benny Hill, which to me was just a bad rip-off of Charlie Chaplin and contemporaries mixed with what was supposed to be sexually risqué situations and stuff). But Blackadder, now there was something funny! :D

As for the Canadian shows, I'm sorry but we never got any of those. The only association I get was a series about a Canadian Mountie (?) who gets stuck with some US cynical detective (they switched the actor halfway through, which was annoying). I forget why he was in the US, BTW... On a similar note, some time ago I noted an actually funny US series called Monk, again about a detective, but one who's semi-retired because of a nervous breakdown. He's invariably accompanied by a female assistent (again switched halfway through the series), who keeps some sort of order in his neurotic behaviour.

Returning back to topic: I seem to remember us reading Molière in class (Les precieuses ridicules and L'avare and such), which is supposed to be funny, but contrary to Shakespearean grossness/puns it made a rather corny, bourgeois impression on me. We did have a funny French teacher in high school who, on very rare occasions, skipped class entirely and instead read aloud from a Dutch comical author the entire hour (well 50 mins). Not in French, obviously.

Dachs
Mar 27, 2010, 06:46 PM
I loved the first Blackadder series. :love: Once I read up a little on the original historical context it was satirizing, I found it hilarious. And I'd watch Brian Blessed read the phone book, so that in itself was reason enough for me to enjoy it. ;)
I think you mean BRIAN BLESSED there

Valka D'Ur
Mar 28, 2010, 01:28 AM
Is there some reason he deserves to be capitalized? :confused:

Plotinus
Mar 28, 2010, 01:48 AM
Because THAT'S HOW HE TALKS! HAHAHAHA!

Adam and Joe, who are two comedians who have (or at least used to have) a show on the radio on Saturday mornings, podcasts of which can be found on iTunes, and which are currently my favourite thing, have a running joke about Brian Blessed and Simon Callow living next door to each other and TALKING LIKE THIS to each other over the fence all the time. Now that's comedy!

Valka D'Ur
Mar 28, 2010, 02:47 AM
Well, it's certainly how he talked in some scenes in I, Claudius: "QUINTILIUS VARUS, WHERE ARE MY EAGLES!!!" and "IS THERE ANYONE IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER!!!"

He was kinda upset in those scenes... :mischief:

He's just a wonderful actor with an extremely rich voice. :love:

JEELEN
Mar 28, 2010, 01:31 PM
With that latest post I suddenly recall who BRIAN BLESSED is (having his features in my mind's eye, so to speak). Yes, HE DOES TALK LIKE THAT. :lol:

Traitorfish
Mar 28, 2010, 07:41 PM
Because THAT'S HOW HE TALKS! HAHAHAHA!
Except for when he doesn't, and sounds incredibly scary because you know that there is a damn good reason for it. :eek: