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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: Humor
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0481.  Thursday, 15 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Gareth Euridge <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jun 1995 09:14:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0472  Re: Humor
 
(2)     From:   David Jackson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jun 95 09:24:16 est
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0476  Re: Humor
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gareth Euridge <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jun 1995 09:14:11 -0400
Subject: 6.0472  Re: Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0472  Re: Humor
 
Gabriel Egan's comments on Frankie Howard's suggestion that, to be a comic
today in England, requires a "university education" made me ponder, especially
as there seems such a rigid, though floppy, distinction in British comedy
between university wits and the likes of Benny Hill and Howard.  The crossovers
interest me most.
 
There is an episode in _Blackadder III_ in which Blackadder's servant Baldric
burns the only copy of Dr. Johnson's dictionary which the author had brought to
the prince for patronage.  Blackadder decides that the only way to avoid death
at the hands of Johnson and his cronies (Byron, Shelley, Keats, suitably high,
melodramatic, and syphilitic) is to re-write the dictionary himself over night.
 This is achieved, although Johnson ultimately does not care too much because
he hopes to make a fortune from _Edmund: A Butler's Tale_, a potboiler
sensation penned by Blackadder himself under a female pseudonym (Jane Austen
is, according to the show, a "great bearded Yorkshireman.")  Ultimately, both
of these great texts are lost to the flames.
 
The episode depends, clearly, on a pretty thorough knowledge of English lit.,
or else many of the jokes would be lost--"there's nothing artistic about
swanning around Italy in a baggy white shirt trying to get laid," and I imagine
that anyone without a BA in English would be for the most part adrift.  Yet
this series enjoyed great popular acclaim, at least in England if not in the
States, which, quite frankly, I cannot explain.
 
Now, I have at least a BA in English, and enjoyed the show greatly, though I
suspect much of that enjoyment was knowing that others would not get it all.
But, I am also a twisted, bitter, and class envying swine, and, if I did not
have the privilege of an education which opened this text to me, I would be
offended and bitter.  Why do not vast numbers of the British viewing public
take clubs to BBC house?  Or, at least, refuse to pay their license!
 
And, to segue to EMD--perhaps a parallel.  I assume that most of the audience
of that time were not fully versed in classical lore and that the primary
audience was not the university crowd (Gurr, Barroll, Finkelpearl). So why so
much classical allusion which so many would not understand--I know that my
students (and I) grow quickly tired (and angry) of it all.  Perhaps the Globe
really fell prey to anarchist arsonists?
 
Finally, as a Brit in the US, I baptize many of my friends with _Fawlty Towers_
and, with others on the net, do not understand why the response is so often
anxiety.  I find the show relaxing . . .
 
Gareth M. Euridge

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Jackson <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jun 95 09:24:16 est
Subject: 6.0476  Re: Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0476  Re: Humor
 
Re: British Humor/poetry. The verse quoted is unfamiliar, but it sounds like
Hillaire Belloc.
 

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