[Ads-l] The Shakespearean play-goer who complained of the cliches

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 30 05:21:48 UTC 2014


Some kind individuals on the W0mbats mailing list helped identify
another instance of the type of joke Benjamin mentioned at the start
of this thread. Previously, I posted a 1936 citation. The cite below
was published in 1945, but it is a closer match to Benjamin's
instance.

[ref] 1945, Laughing Stock: Over Six-hundred Jokes and Anecdotes of
Uncertain Vintage, Edited by Bennett Cerf, Quote Page 130 and 131,
Grosset and Dunlap, New York. (Verified with scans; Internet
Archive)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Guy Williams, of the Omaha World Herald, had his ears pinned back by a
nice old lady to whom he had urgently recommended a volume of
Shakespeare's plays. "I can't understand why you all make such a fuss
over that man," she told him after she had looked over the book. "All
he's done is string together a whole lot of very old, well-known
quotations."
[End excerpt]

The Quote Investigator website now has an entry on a closely
related/overlapping topic and list members are acknowledged.

[Begin excerpt]
Great thanks to Benjamin Barrett who raised this general topic on the
ADS mailing list which led QI to formulate this question and perform
this exploration. Special thanks to the other mailing list discussion
participants.
[End excerpt]

Now We Sit Through Shakespeare in Order to Recognize the Quotations
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/10/28/recognize/

Garson


On Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 4:39 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: The Shakespearean play-goer who complained of the cliches
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Wow, thank you for this quick find (finding?).
>
> I don't know what a debbie is (not defined by Wiktionary or the OED), =
> but this is a better version of this cliched anecdote.
>
> Benjamin Barrett
> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>
> Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/home
>
> On Sep 24, 2014, at 1:07 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole =
> <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header =
> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: The Shakespearean play-goer who complained of the =
> cliches
>> =
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> -----
>>=20
>> Thanks for introducing an interesting topic, Benjamin. Here is an
>> instance of the same core joke in 1936, I think. Perhaps the jest can
>> be antedated back to the 1600s.
>>=20
>> [ref] 1936 October 17, Ballston Spa Daily Journal, My New York by
>> James Aswell, Quote Page 4, Column 2, Ballston Spa, New York. (Old
>> Fulton)[/ref]
>>=20
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Leslie Howard has hung out his Shakespearean shingle in one theater
>> and the English marvel, John Gielgud, is holding forth in another. . .
>> . A pert debbie, attending the Gielgud interpretation the other night,
>> quipped in the lobby: "But how can anyone listen to all those old saws
>> and ancient wisecracks they've been hearing all their lives?" . . .
>> Well, a lot of people go to Shakespeare to recognize the quotations.
>> [End excerpt]
>>=20
>> The last quip in the passage above, "people go to Shakespeare to
>> recognize the quotations", is nowadays assigned to Orson Welles or
>> Oscar Wilde. For example, Richard Lederer implausibly attributes the
>> remark to Oscar Wilde.
>>=20
>> Garson
>>=20
>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:12 PM, Benjamin Barrett =
> <gogaku at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header =
> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>>> Subject:      The Shakespearean play-goer who complained of the =
> cliches
>>> =
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> -----
>>>=20
>>> Evidently in _The Miracle of Language_ (see "A Man of Fire-New =
> Words", =3D
>>> http://www2.d125.org/~rtompson/lederer.pdf), 1991, Richard Lederer =
> says:
>>>=20
>>> -----
>>> A student who attended a performance of Hamlet came away complaining =
> =3D
>>> that the play "was nothing more than a bunch of cliches." The reason =
> for =3D
>>> this common reaction...
>>> -----
>>>=20
>>> I recall first seeing this about 1992 or 1993, but my recollection is =
> =3D
>>> that it was an elderly woman who said this.
>>>=20
>>> This might be worth researching for those who have an interest in =
> such =3D
>>> developments.
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list