Sunday, June 24, 2007

Funny, Forsooth!

Title: Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired [abridged]
Author: Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor

“So what do you need to know about Shakespeare? Just this: The entire Shakespeare industry consists of people simply guessing about who Shakespeare was and what he wrote. Not knowing much about Shakespeare’s life hasn’t stopped everyone from cashing in, filling in the blanks with scholarly supposition when thy can, and simply making it up when they can’t.

It’s a shocking record, and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Briefly, Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired [abridged] deflates the bloated universe of Shakespearean lore into a small, easily-digestible biscuit of knowledge. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, my review will take list form, as I endeavor to entertain and enlighten my readers with brief, yet insightful, witticisms.

Top Ten Reasons Why Reduced Shakespeare Should Be Read Immediately

10. Your vocabulary will be expanded, as you dazzle your friends with real Shakespearean bon mots such as ‘zounds,’ ‘odds bodikins,’ and ‘whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch.’

9. After each play summary, the authors provide helpful essay questions guaranteed to spark spirited debate, such as: “Have you ever tricked someone into murdering his spouse? If so, why are you admitting it?”

8. You will learn the difference between an iamb, trochee, spondee, dactyl, and anapest. The authors claim that this will make you attractive to “scholarly members of the opposite sex.” I, however, quibble with this assertion, as such knowledge has not helped me bag any men at all. (Believe me, I’ve tried.)

7. The authors are not afraid to say that Shakespeare “wrote some pretty crappy plays.”

6. You will learn that Macbeth is a cursed play. During every performance in the past four hundred years, something horrifying has occurred. Some theater folk will refer to it only as “The Scottish Play.” So if you do accidentally say “Macbeth” in a theater, immediately find a gun and blow your brains out. As the authors rightly assert, “anything’s better than enduring the shrieks of a bunch of drama geeks.”

5. The number of Carrot Top jokes in this book is disgusting. Seriously, they’re everywhere. It’s horrifying.

4. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth I was a “Goth Valley Girl”?

3. Shakespeare’s favorite sports? The Iambic Pentathlon, Pin the Blame on the Plantagenets, and Serfing.

2. The authors take a big, stinking dump upon the numerous conspiracy theories that Shakespeare himself is not actually the author of Shakespeare’s plays. I found this highly gratifying and ego-stoking.

1. The authors’ own answer to the authorship debate is that Shakespeare was a time-traveler from the future with abilities and powers beyond those of mortal men. When he left the 17th century to return to his own time, he took all his drafts, letters, and manuscripts with him. This clearly explains why no writing in Shakespeare’s own hand exists. Finally, a theory I can get behind!

In short, highly, highly recommended.

P.S. – The Authors are the managing partners of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and a pair of damn funny fellows.

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posted by Elizabeth at 8:28 PM


Blogger Kat said...

In response to point number 8 - maybe the problem is that you are trying to "bag" men, as in body bag (I know you all too well, Elizabeth). They probably do not like that much...

Once again, a response that pulls out a tiny detail when there are so many other great things to comment on. Oh well. :)

6/25/2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Wait -- you mean I'm not supposed to kill men before devouring them body and soul? What a strange thought to ponder...


6/25/2007 8:56 PM  

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