November 25: Comedy

Some comedy, however, is timeless.

Really, any day of the year would be OK to start a stunt like this. New Year's Day is a little obvious, even, but I was on strike and not picketing. (Digression: It really is remarkable how much show business shuts down over the holidays. You could totally Basil E. Frankweiler inside CAA from like the 23rd till after New Year's, but it would be no fun. They have crappy office coffee just like everyone else. )

But if you chose today, I pity you, because you're going to snap your book or laptop shut and go back to working your way through the Kama Sutra once you encouter today's reading, an Elizabethan comedy called The Shoemaker's Holiday. Like most comedies that are more than a generation old, it's not funny. Here's the great comic character of the piece, Simon Eyre:
Where be these boys, these girls, these drabs, these scoundrels? They wallow in the fat brewiss of my bounty, and lick up the crumbs of my table, yet will not rise to see my walks cleansed. Come out, you powder-beef queans! What, Nan! what, Madge Mumble-crust. Come out, you fat midriff-swag-belly-whores, and sweep me these kennels that the noisome stench offend not the noses of my neighbours.
In my professional opinion, none of that works. ("Powder-beef queans" is borderline, but disallowed because it's only spelled funny.) And the only way to make it work is for the poor actor to overplay it so much that you, the audience member, just hope he can't see you averting your eyes.

To be fair (although why I feel compelled to be fair to a long-dead Elizabethan playwright is a mystery), my aversion might have something more to do with the fact that this is not Day 1 of the project. This has been a year heavy with people who are Earls and Lord Mayors; they start to pall after awhile, even here, when they only exist to be contrasted with hearty folk of the people. Although I notice that back in early February I talked about how Falstaff's not funny, either. On the other hand I saw a production of "Twelfth Night" this summer in Barnsdall Park and found Sir Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek kind of funny; they walked around with little bubbles of drunkenness popping all around their heads. This isn't exactly a golden age of lush comedy, so I found it refreshing.

The idea of actual drinking also seems kind of refreshing right now. Maybe I'll try that.

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