ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN
by W.S. Gilbert
Hamlet and company are about to put on a play.
We are ready, sir. But, before we begin, I would speak a word to you who are to play this piece. I have chosen this play in the face of sturdy opposition from my well-esteemed friends, who were for playing a piece with less bombastick fury and more frolick.
(Addressing the King.)
But I have thought this a fit play to be presented by reason of that very pedantical bombast and windy obtrusive rhetorick that they do rightly despise. For I hold that there is no such antick fellow as your bombastical hero who doth so earnestly spout forth his folly as to make his hearers believe that he is unconscious of all incongruity; whereas, he who doth so mark, label, and underscore his antick speeches as to show that he is alive to their absurdity seemeth to utter them under protest, and to take part with his audience against himself.
(Turning to Players.)
For which reason, I pray you, let there be no huge red noses, nor extravagant monstrous wigs, nor coarse men garbed as women, in this comi-tragedy; for such things are as much as to say, "I am a comick fellow I pray you laugh at me, and hold what I say to be cleverly ridiculous." Such labelling of humour is an
impertinence to your audience, for it seemeth to imply that they are unable to recognize a joke unless it be pointed out to them. I pray you avoid it.