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BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?

CapriUni 30 Aug 07 - 10:02 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Aug 07 - 10:12 PM
CapriUni 30 Aug 07 - 10:30 PM
The Fooles Troupe 30 Aug 07 - 10:33 PM
CapriUni 30 Aug 07 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 Aug 07 - 01:09 AM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 02:22 AM
Grab 31 Aug 07 - 08:09 AM
Bee 31 Aug 07 - 08:27 AM
gnu 31 Aug 07 - 08:46 AM
TheSnail 31 Aug 07 - 08:53 AM
Uncle_DaveO 31 Aug 07 - 09:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Aug 07 - 10:21 AM
Mr Red 31 Aug 07 - 11:23 AM
Uncle_DaveO 31 Aug 07 - 11:52 AM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 01:20 PM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 01:39 PM
M.Ted 31 Aug 07 - 04:19 PM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 07:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Aug 07 - 08:02 PM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 08:15 PM
TheSnail 31 Aug 07 - 08:30 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Aug 07 - 08:56 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Aug 07 - 09:12 PM
Joe_F 31 Aug 07 - 09:17 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Aug 07 - 09:18 PM
Amos 31 Aug 07 - 09:22 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Aug 07 - 09:51 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 Aug 07 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 Aug 07 - 10:12 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Aug 07 - 10:19 PM
CapriUni 31 Aug 07 - 10:53 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 01 Sep 07 - 10:49 AM
Slag 01 Sep 07 - 02:27 PM
CapriUni 01 Sep 07 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,michaelr 01 Sep 07 - 08:46 PM
CapriUni 01 Sep 07 - 09:45 PM
autolycus 02 Sep 07 - 06:16 AM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Sep 07 - 10:24 AM
GUEST,Desdemona 02 Sep 07 - 10:28 AM
Inukshuk 02 Sep 07 - 12:35 PM
CapriUni 02 Sep 07 - 02:35 PM
Desdemona 02 Sep 07 - 05:58 PM
CapriUni 02 Sep 07 - 06:07 PM
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Subject: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 10:02 PM

Clown: How now, my hearts! did you never see the picture of 'we three'?

Twelfth Night Act 2, scene iii



According to the line notes in my college Shakespeare text, "We Three" was a well-known satirical picture that practically everyone knew about, and then the notes went on to describe the picture, and its point. I thought it was an interseting idea. ...So a few days ago, I drew this modernized version of it (click to see). Among the friends who saw it, only those who already knew the Shakespearean reference (and had read the notes) got the joke. For everyone else, it was as clear as surreal pea soup.

That could be because this joke is dependent on cultural context, or because they didn't even know they were supposed to be looking at a joke.

What do you think? Without pulling out your Freshman English Cliff's notes, do you get it? Do you think it's funny? Or do you get it and just think it's dumb, or crass? Or is it my picture making skills that are off-base?

Has our general way of thinking changed so much in the intervening centuries that a joke like this becomes "invisible"? Do you think this is a joke worth reviving, to stand alongside our Ziggy posters, and our Dilbert cartoons?


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 10:12 PM

"this is a joke worth reviving"

Reviving? Sounds like the material The Fooles Troupe uses - nice and fresh...

These aren't old jokes friends - we invented them...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 10:30 PM

Yes... Well...

There were cucumbers in Biblical times. They're also fresh every summer...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 10:33 PM

I'll pay that - must write it into the act....


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 30 Aug 07 - 10:48 PM

Well, some humor is a renewable resource... Thank Thalia!


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 01:09 AM

Far more than ...."Ha Ha" .... western humor (Shakespeare is western) has a great deal to do with "context" and "timing" and "irony usually verbal but also situational and dramatic."

Let this one lie at rest until you discover the proper context for delivering the line.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 02:22 AM

Let this one lie at rest until you discover the proper context for delivering the line.

Well, in this case, the joke is not a delivered line at all. It's visual image (with a two-word title)

And as such, were it to be revived, the context for it would have to be specifically created (or, in other words: hung in the perfect spot on the perfect wall).

And that's just what I'm asking: can this picture be placed anywhere in a 21st century context and still work as a piece of humor? Is this an ironic concept that can be transplanted 400 years into the future and still flourish (continuing, sort of, the cucumber metaphor from earlier), or has that seed shiveled up and fossilized? I have my own theories, but I thought I'd open it up to Mudcat discussion...

...And now that I'm thinking about it, I'm wondering just how much, if at all, our 21st century humor is based primarily on images, rather than words. We tend to think of ourselves as a predominately visual culture, but maybe we're not so much, after all...

*goes of to Google "Visal jokes"


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Grab
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:09 AM

http://www.infoplease.com/dictionary/brewers/we-three.html

CapriUni, your picture is missing a vital piece of the joke - that caption! If you took a Punch or New Yorker cartoon and removed the text, it would be equally meaningless and unfunny.

Basically, your updated picture is giving the setup but has no punchline. With the punchline (say, a caption of "three asses") I have to say it would still be a rather obscure joke. I suspect the joke would also have been obscure to anyone in Shakespeare's time who didn't know about that pub sign or the artist who painted it. As an art reference, it's as obscure to us as a reference to a shark in your roof might be in 200 years (and that might even be obscure to people today who aren't in the UK).

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Bee
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:27 AM

It's a bit impenetrable at the moment - but the drawing is very appealing!


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: gnu
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:46 AM

Yeah... it is!


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: TheSnail
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:53 AM

As Grab's link says, the full quote that Shakespeare was referring to was "We three loggerheads be".
As far as I can gather, the original inn sign would have been two carved wooden heads - loggerheads i.e. blockheads not asses. The extra dimension to Shakespeare's joke is that Sir Andrew doesn't get the joke. He thinks he is being clever by comparing the other two to the inn sign, not realising that he is including himself.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:54 AM

Yes, I saw the joke, and yes, it's mildly amusing. Not to say "funny".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 10:21 AM

Not to say "funny".

Now that could either mean that it is funny or that it's not funny. What a curious language we have...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Mr Red
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 11:23 AM

er - call me dumb. If you assed me.

but on it's own if I get the joke - there needs more context to make if funny. If I missed something then how can I tell if it is funny?

Fashions change - not to say tastes. But it sure ain't no banana skin.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 11:52 AM

McGrath o. H.:

What I meant to say is not quite either of the alternatives you give.

I meant that it achieved the level of amusing, but couldn't reach "funny" status.   Well, I guess that's more or less in your second category, but it's NOT "not funny" in the sense of "You may think that's funny, but no one else with any sensibility would even perpetrate such a distasteful thing!"

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 01:20 PM

Graham --

Okay thanks, the footnote in my Shakespeare textbook was incorrect, then.

That footnote said that "We three" was a common picture hung on a wall, of either two jackasses, or two villiage idiots, and that the caption read, simply: "We three," and no more... And that caption I did put in my picture (and framed in bright purple).

Oh, and Infoplease.com got at least part of their information incorrect. They attribute the line "Have you never seen the picturre..." to Sir Andrew Aguecheek, when it's actually the clown who speaks it, on entering the scene (coming upon a very drunk Sir Andrew and Sir Toby) -- he's the viewer who comes upon the scene the two knights are creating, and decides to include himself in their revels.

(Were there several versions of Twelfth Night printed, and if so, could the speaker of that line have been changed between editions?)

It could also be that both my text and infoplease.com are right. It might have started as the sign outside a popular brewery, and then the image/idea got reproduced as a picture for people's walls, and in the picture, the caption was shortened to "we three" because many would already have known about the origin.

---

I understood you, Dave. I'll settle for Mildy Amusing. I'd say that covers about 99% of the humor in the world, anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM

Grab, I meant... I haven't had my daily coffee yet, and my eyes and typing fingers are just falling into old habits...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 01:25 PM

CapriUni's modernisation, with that hand groping down into the nether regions of the companion, does rather invite a different interpretation of the joke...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 01:39 PM

oops. Sorry, McGrath, that's a mistake in cropping, on my part, I wasn't thinking about that. I just got tired of fiddling with drawing over all the incomprehensible electronics on the desk.

(Although you're the first person to voice such an interpretation; either every one else was far too polite, or that says more about how your mind works than it does mine).

Oh, and Grab --

You were right. I had no idea what a shark on a roof could mean. So I Googled "Shark on roof UK" and got the image in my first hit.

Even before reading the explaination, I laughed out loud. There's not too much there to understand -- the image itself is just such an assault on logic that you have to laugh. It is its own context.

Although it might not be funny to someone who doesn't know what a shark is, or that it's a creature who lives in the ocean. If they thought it was a flying animal, or somehow related to an airplane, the picture would be tragic and disturbing.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 04:19 PM

You left out the full caption, so the text was ambiguous, however, the hand is at the end of the arm, and is somewhere very definite.

when one crafts a joke(or anything else), one has to be careful that the humor is understood as we intend it--when that happens, to paraphrase the great one, the fault, dear Capri, is not in the jokes, it is in ourselves--


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 07:58 PM

Well I did say it was a mistake on my part...

And at the time I made the pictrue, I thought I was using the full caption.

So -- how could the caption be rewritten for today's viewers?

Maybe: "We three Jackasses should really get back to work."?

Or something else?


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:02 PM

"Hullo - that makes three of us!"


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:15 PM

Heh. (ur how about: "You really have to be jackass, to work here"?)

BTW, here are the three photos I used as templates for the final piece. The first one, of the office workers, was a stock promotional photo showing a creative and happy workplace (her hand, btw, is on the desk, and his hand is poised in front of the keyboard).


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: TheSnail
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:30 PM

CapriUni

when it's actually the clown who speaks it,

Damn! Should have checked, and to think I studied the play at school. (It is a long time ago.) So the speaker is a "Fool" although, in fact, far cleverer than any of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 08:56 PM

So I Googled "Shark on roof UK" - and all I got was THIS thread...

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=+%22Shark+on+roof+UK%22&num=50&hl=en&lr=&as_qdr=all&filter=0


:E)


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:12 PM

As someone who has actually taken part in an intense (live-in) workshop production of this play - 10 days to live performance - including getting the words down! - many things on stage are NOT capable of being carried just by the words alone - it's all to do with visual images anyway -

Two people on stage - enter third - subtle accent on 'We Three'... gets a giggle every time...

No problem mate!

Some of the biggest laughs came from

The mechanicals rehearsing - enter the guy with the scripts - drops one - picks it up - drops two - etc - this can go on for quite some time.... especially when the others try to 'help' :-)

The mechanical's play performance - waving floppy cardboard swords around always puts the audience into hysterics...

Bottom appears in asses ears - one person BEHIND everybody else faints - full 'stiff back fall' trick - big panic as the rest notice and race to catch before actor hits ground (called a 'trust' moment!)...

Some might call some of this 'slapstick style'...


NONE of this is IN THE SCRIPT... also, if you read my 'Fooles Troupe' scripts pages - none of the 'biz' is written down either - you need to KNOW what to do.... :-P


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:17 PM

I have never read _Twelfth Night_, but I was amused by the cartoon right away. I may, however, have been primed for it by the more recent remark "Let's not jump into this with all four feet", which is a bit slier (two people can add up to one ass).


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:18 PM

"NONE of this is IN THE SCRIPT"

Actually this is the very reason stage actors love 'Old Bill' - he totally trusts his performers - most 'modern playwrights' are just frustrated second rate wannabe actors - they insist on 'writing everything down exactly the way they saw it in their own head' - which is WHY you can often 'only play them ONE way' - whereas 'Bill' can be endlessly adapted for almost ANY staging and style... :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Amos
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:22 PM

It is far too subtle and wry, I think, to be admitted to modern successful joke lists. It is more along the lines of Maigret's "Ceci n'est pas un pipe". ALso very funny in a dry, dry way.

But your rendering of it is very funny once the penny drops, even without Cliff's Notes.

The presence of a computer, of course, complicates it. Perhaps you should title it "We Four".


A


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:51 PM

"Ceci n'est pas un pipe"

IS visual...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 09:59 PM

NOPE - not even visually humorous.

In the USA the "hick" Comedy Show "Hee Haw" died in the 70's.

You neighter translate, nor transcend 400 years.....not too sure Shakespeare got a lot of laughs out of this one eighter.

Got any recordings of the audience reaction? Did he use a "laugh track?"

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

gladly endure 400 of your postings than 400,000 of the others currently "members."


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 10:12 PM

YES!!!!

I now get it. This is a political cartoon for the USA Democratic party. You could market it to areas associated with "Rush Limbaugh" a radio commentator (ex-drug addict.)

We have a view of the new presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton and Osama....and the third donkey is the democrate supporter viewing the screen.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

No market for the material - but I now "get it." as we all do when the democrates control congress.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 10:19 PM

""Ceci n'est pas un pipe"
IS visual..."
"NOPE - not even visually humorous."

Ah - but humour requires working brain synapses, working on already input data...


"This is a political cartoon for the USA Democratic party"

insert Republican Party, or any other concept...



"not too sure Shakespeare got a lot of laughs out of this one either."
"Got any recordings of the audience reaction? Did he use a "laugh track?""

... based on your vast personal onstage experience in front of live audiences?

Actually - the laugh track comment is inadvertently perceptive ... :-)

Have you never head of 'the claque' - paid groups of people put into the audience to applaud and laugh on cue?


:-P


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 31 Aug 07 - 10:53 PM

Foolestroupe: Here's the link that came up for me: http://www.headington.org.uk/shark/

Sometimes, quotation marks can complicate things unnecessarily...

And Re: Good ol' Will -- well, he might have been as picky as any other playwright then or since, but, as he was working with the same troupe of actors season after season, he didn't need to write down his directions -- he could just harrangue them from the director's seat (though, as it was his fellow actors who got the money together to publish the First Folio as a memorial to him, they probably loved working for him back then, too... If every playwright had been so loved by his players, we'd know a lot more about the writings of Shakespeare's contemporaries).

Joe -- Twelfth Night is a fabulous play. There is much incidental singing in it, and, if I'm not mistaken, all of the songs happen to be in the DT.

(and if two people add up to one ass, does that mean that one of the pair will inevitably end up being the ass's behind [or is that role reserved for the boss]?)

Amos -- thank you for your compliment on my rendering.

As for the time it takes for said penny to drop, I was also wondering if the invention of television (and movies, before that) was partly to blame. 400 years ago, if you saw someone, or something, it was because you were there, too, in the same group. That's not true, any more, and the presence of a frame around the picture may actually underscore the idea that what we're seeing is "Some Place Else."

... But that's just a half-thought hypothesis.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 10:49 AM

Feste is the penultimate example of Shakespeare's "wise fools" (the Fool in "King Lear" being the ultimate, to my mind), with some of the greatest songs in the whole canon. In any case, CapriUni is correct about the speaker; the line is:

Clown: How now, my hearts! did you never see the picture
of 'we three'?

Twelfth Night, II.iii

One of the most important things to bear in mind when reading Shakespeare--or any medieval or early modern popular writer--is that they *were* popular, and wrote material that would appeal to a wide, general audience; to please the people was their livelihood. A remarkable quality of Shakespeare's body of work is its continued ability to instruct, amuse and entertain a wide variety of audiences and readers despite what many modern people perceive as a language barrier.

Of course, the fact is that Shakespeare's language IS essentially modern English, but I think that a lot of the apparent 'problems' stem from just such cultural context clues; things that were familiar to the original audience, but can send current readers--especially the first time, high school or college age variety!--into a tailspin. I've always found that much of this can be alleviated by seeing (or 'hearing,' as they used to say) the play in performance, which is, after all, how they were originally intended to be experienced. Many of the language difficulties disappear when the text is spoken aloud, and if every single reference isn't perfectly clear, the themes and characters are so compelling that those considerations seem to matter a good deal less.

So, while it's certainly true that a close study of the cultural minutiae of Elizabethan/Jacobean daily life will reward the reader with a much richer experience and appreciation of these plays, it remains a rather wonderful truth that wholly modern audiences continue to attend, read, absorb and find contemporary relevance in them.

(And yes, I did laugh at your cartoon, CapriUni!),

~D


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Slag
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 02:27 PM

I've been muling it over and I don't know if that is an Apple or a PC??? A stubborn problem. I'll have to bray about it. This one is about 2000 years old, or older. Titus 1:12,13.


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 06:34 PM

(And yes, I did laugh at your cartoon, CapriUni!)

Thank you, Desdemona!

About Shakespeare being more easily understood as he was meant to be experienced (heard and seen, rather than read), I wholehearedly agree.

I first encountered Shakespeare through serendipity; flipping through the tv channels (back when there were only 5 to choose from), I came upon a BBC production of As You Like It, filmed out in the real world, as a movie would be, rather than a filmed stage production. The first line I caught was: "I pray thee, Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry."

Since I knew "Cuz" as modern, school-yard, spoof-yokel slang, I was certain that I was watching a comedic spoof of Shakespeare, and decided it would be more entertainig than the golf, bowling, or boxing that were the other channels. By the time I realized it wasn't a spoof at all but the real thing, I was thrilled (and felt slightly subversive) that I understood something that had such a reputation for being diffecult. By the time Rosilind was reading Orlando's tortured attempts at love poetry, I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt.

So I was rather pleased to hear on NPR a couple of weeks ago that Kenneth Branagh is doing a version of As You Like It for HBO. But then, one of the lead actors, Kevein Kline, said, in very sage tones, that the best way to introduce Shakespeare to people for the first time is to warn them ahead of time that it will be very diffecult, and that they will have to work at it. ...I wanted to reach through the radio and give him a good hard shaking by the collar. It's exactly that approach that turns people (especially teenagers) off from Shakespeare, unless, of course, they pride themselves in being such snobs that you wouldn't want to be in the same room with them...

---

Slug: I'm not sure if the computer you're talking about is the one in the picture, in which case, I don't know if it's a Mac or PC. If you're talking about the computer on which I created the picture, I can tell you it's a PC with Windows XP...

I was also wondering, from a cartoonist's perspective, if the joke would have worked better if the two had been standing around a water cooler...


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,michaelr
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 08:46 PM

Maybe I'm dense, but even after reading all these explanations, I don't see anything funny.

Bill Maher was talking about General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, saying he didn't want gays in his army as they were immoral. Bill said "At least they know when to pull out of a shithole!"

That's funny.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 Sep 07 - 09:45 PM

Well, Michael, humor is a matter of skill, cultural context, timing, and taste.

There's no accounting for the last one, and that's the one that's most important. It's also okay to disagree about humor (matter of fact, it's probably best).


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: autolycus
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 06:16 AM

I thought we lived in an essentially verbal culture, into which the visual is making headway. personally, I'm aural, which is why music does it for me more than the literary or the visual.

Ce n'est pas un pipe is by magritte, not Maigret.

At the time of the cropping, the old unconscious might have kicked in.

Fools in Elizabethen plays tended to be the wisest around.

For some people, it can be hilarious and they merely smile. For others, it doesn't count as really funny until they've laughed out loud. (me, for one).

Humour often doesn't transfer well from one country to another, and "The past is another country. They do things differently there."






       Ivor


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 10:24 AM

The problem with Shakespeare, and most other 'Theatre' is that too many people are forced to study the plays in Schools as 'Literature' without the magic of seeing a really good live production. Video is ok, but 'Theatre' _HAS_ to be 'live'. Working in in helps a bit too, of course.... :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 10:28 AM

Kevin Kline SAID that?! I'm generally quite fond of him as an actor, but in this case he wants beating.

I've taught Shakespeare to high-school kids as part of an intensive, 8 plays in 8 weeks programme, and the very first thing I addressed was the material's appeal to the rank and file of 16th/17th century England. We spent an entire class on Bankside, and the low social reputation of the playhouses, which stood amidst bear-pits and brothels (delightfully known as "bouncing palaces' in the slang of the time) and doubled as venues for prize fights, the cheap admission for the groundlings, and the fact that people would talk, heckle, eat and drink throughout the performance...try THAT at the RSC sometime, although they're pretty cool about including the audience at the new Globe!

I have three sons of my own, and I've always made a point of exposing them to things that were "over their heads," and guess what? Lots of things aren't! It's exactly that kind of cautionary attitude towards anything perceived as "challenging" that will make a kid say, Well, f**k it, then, I'll just go back to my Playstation."

Grrrrrrr.

~D


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Inukshuk
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 12:35 PM

Our little theatre group did Twelfth Night several years ago under the direction of a retired English teacher. I got to be Feste and the musical director as well. We did all the songs with recognizable settings; some country, some rock etc. We had them stomping and singing along with the finale "When that I was and a tiny little boy."
We spent a lot of time working out "How now, my hearts! did you never see the picture of 'we three'?" We couldn't expect the audience to have a clue, so we decided to poke each other and giggle and keep pointing at Sir Andrew Aguecheek. The audience lauged their hearts out at that for some unknown reason.(This is the very reason stage actors love 'Old Bill' - he totally trusts his performers - Foulestroupe)


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 02:35 PM

Foolestroupe --

Video is ok, but 'Theatre' _HAS_ to be 'live'.

Personally, as a matter of taste, I agree with you. Live theater beats anything taped or recorded hands down, hands up and sideways. The problem is that many schools (at least here in the States) are in communities withougt access to theaters, and if there are good theaters in town, the ticket prices are prohibitive. So I have no problem with a high school teacher who rents a video from the local shop for a few bucks a pop.

I introduced Mother to Shakespeare through Branagh's Henry V. He was a new filmmaker, back then, and it was opening in only a few art film places in Manhattan around Christmas. I told her I wanted to go see it, that it would be worth a trip into The City. She was convinced, that, as a journalist, she would hate the "flowery language." So I gave an ultimatum: Henry V for my Christmas present, or nothing.

... At the closing credits, she whispered: "Do it again!!" And we went out for an early dinner at the Russian Tea Room. Best Christmas ever.

After that, it was an easy nudge to get them to take me to see the local theater company's al fresco Shakespeare production each summer...

Desdemona --

I've taught Shakespeare to high-school kids as part of an intensive, 8 plays in 8 weeks programme,

Nifty! Which plays did you do?


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: Desdemona
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 05:58 PM

The plays were a mix, both in terms of chronology and theme, and included:

~ Richard III

~ Romeo and Juliet

~ A Midsummer Night's Dream

~ Much Ado About Nothing

~ As You Like It

~ Henry V

~ Macbeth

~ The Tempest

The class was developed within the context of a museum exhibit of early modern arms and armor as mentioned in Shakespeare, but eventually became a separate programme, as well as an outreach to local schools. I felt it was important to place the plays within as broad a cultural context as possible, so we talked a lot about the Elizabethan/Jacobean world: food, clothes, housing, music, childhood, games & pastimes, health care, cosmetics (a very popular topic), etc. There's such an embarassment of contemporary images available that it was easy to put together slideshows and handouts, as well as good secondary reading for those who were interested in learning more (and there have been several).

There were obviously many (29 or 30, to be precise!) others I might easily have chosen, but those eight both reflected the passages excerpted for the exhibit, and constituted a relatively broad overview of the canon without straying into "Titus Andronicus" or "Timon of Athens" territory. In any case, I absolutely loved developing it, since any opportunity to revisit these texts closely is a privilege devoutly to be wished(!). They never cease to change, just as the reader never does, and so there's always something fresh, new, illuminating and moving to be found.

~D


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Subject: RE: BS: 400 year old joke: revivable, or dust?
From: CapriUni
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 06:07 PM

I'm glad to see you had comedies in there, too. I think, so often, people get the idea that only tragedies are "important literature." And nothing arouses young enthusiasm like the intricacies of court scandel and politics...

*eyeroll*

(also, I think school boards are shy about bawdy humor)


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