Shakespeare jokes

So I watched Twelfth night lately, and this time I caught the meaning of the most of ‘witty replies’. I was thinking of comparing it to the modern sitcoms. There’s even an analogue of the ‘offscreen laughter’ – a jester that laughs a lot during the course of the performance. We also have a range of completely delusional characters, and a certain love line which is a matter of jokes like ‘she’s completely in love and he doesn’t notice’, but is mostly delivered seriously. Some of the lines are an improbable and elaborate setup for the following joke “I’m not the horse of that color” “and that horse will make him an ass!”

There’s also the whole culture gap, with counts and countesses, duels, pirates – but most of it is easily translatable to modern day situations. The only thing that is a Shakespeare trademark and haven’t caught on elsewhere is the whole ‘mistaken identity’ comedy. In the modern days of computer graphics and fashion industry, it is hard to impress anyone by changing a costume in between scenes. Fashion has always been around, is it really computer graphics fault? Twenty years ago there were movies where characters dressed as somebody else.. Conan the Barbarian 🙂

Anyway, this made me thinking that Americans don’t know too many jokes. Me myself, I used to have a book “Collection of jokes” as a kid. Here, on a rock concert when somebody took their time to tune the guitar, the guy on the bass said: anybody knows a joke? There was one guy after all, he told a pun about a puppy (I don’t remember, to me it sounded like “why is puppy sad? it’s bloated”). So yeah, apparently (and it’s confirmed by going to the local improv night), the jokes in US are divided into puns “X and Y walks into the bar..”, sitcom jokes where somebody is overacting or <define sitcom here>, and also rare cases of sarcasm which is even harder to define. Yeah, there is also internet humor. There seems to be something missing, what we called ‘ordinary jokes’ back in Russia. I wonder if that’s just my impression..

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