Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baby Daddy Jokes? Always Funny.

When people tell me that Shakespeare language makes no sense, and ask me for examples to prove otherwise, I'll sometimes bring them to a joke just to demonstrate that stuff we still say today, Shakespeare said 400 years ago.

In The Tempest, when Prospero decides to tell his daughter Miranda about her true past, he says, "Did you know that your father was Duke of Milan?"

"Are you not my father?" she asks, confused.

"Your mother told me I was," replies Prospero.

Nice thing to say about Miranda's mom, bro. :)

I've learned over the years, however, that Shakespeare loved this joke.  Taming of the Shrew:

VINCENTIO Art thou his father?

Pedant  Ay, sir; so his mother says, if I may believe her.

And just today I realized that Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing tells the same joke, and takes it up a notch!


You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this
is your daughter.
Her mother hath many times told me so.
Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?
LEONATO Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

Wh...wh...ummm.... so, wait. Am I reading that wrong, or does Leonato not only tell the "I don't know who my wife was sleeping with" joke, but then follow it up with "You were too young, Benedick, so I know it wasn't you who impregnated my wife?"


Gary Chapin said...

And don't forget the opening business of Lear, about Edmund the Bastard.

Is not this your son, my lord?
His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge: I have
so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am
brazed to it.
I cannot conceive you.
Sir, this young fellow's mother could: whereupon
she grew round-wombed, and had, indeed, sir, a son
for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed.
Do you smell a fault?

No wonder Edmund was pissed off!

Bill said...

The idea is that men never really know for sure. This was uncomfortable for them, which is why this joke was so funny. There are many other variations on the cuckold theme, including 100% of all references to horns in Shakespeare.

The insult isn't to the cheating woman; it's to the cuckolded man. In that sense, it's self-effacing humor. But there is usually a follow up reference to the wife being virtuous, as further evidence of paternity.

Leonato's second joke refers to Benedick's womanizing. I think he's saying there never was any need for men to doubt until Benedick came along.