Brush Up Your Shakespeare
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Let's welcome back our very important puzzler, Sir Patrick Stewart.
EISENBERG: Welcome back. Now, you've been associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1966 - is that right? Is there a Shakespearean role that you have your eye on that you would still - you're still wanting to play?
PATRICK STEWART: Yeah, very much so. In "Henry IV, Part One" and "Part Two," there's a character who's quite famous though he's not the leading character, Falstaff. And...
STEWART: ...He's funny and vile. You may ask yourselves why I am drawn to this role...
STEWART: ...But he's an obnoxious, quite vicious, unpleasant man who happens to be very, very funny. And I've always looked on it as being the middle-aged, or, late middle-aged, actor's "Hamlet." I will play it one day soon.
STEWART: You know, I love quiz shows. I love them. I've watched them all my life, and I always wondered, what is it like to hold a buzzer in your hand?
EISENBERG: Let's arm it up for you.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
STEWART: I guess this means I've made it.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah. You have made it.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Your game is called, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, and it is about Shakespearean insults. The Bard was, of course, a master of the putdown and his plays are filled with some pretty brilliant smack talk. We're going to see how well you know his wicked words.
EISENBERG: So if you get enough correct, Hillary Anne Kotler (ph), of Columbia, Md. is going to win an ASK ME ANOTHER prize.
All right. Shakespearean insults. So in "Henry IV, Part Two," a drunken Falstaff tells Mistress Quickly...
COULTON: Away you scullion, you rampallian, you fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe!
EISENBERG: So what does I'll tickle your catastrophe mean?
STEWART: It means that she intends to have some contact with his sexual organs.
EISENBERG: That was NPR right there.
EISENBERG: But let me go to our puzzle guru, Art Chung.
ART CHUNG, BYLINE: Well, who am I to say that Sir Patrick Stewart is wrong?
CHUNG: Well, specifically, does it mean, A) I'll break your leg, B) I'll spank your behind, or C) I'll massage your calves?
STEWART: For the word catastrophe?
CHUNG: Catastrophe, right. What part of the body? We will accept anything.
COULTON: We will accept anything (laughter).
STEWART: So what are my choices?
CHUNG: Leg, behind or calves.
STEWART: Why would he want to tickle her calves? I mean, just let me throw it up to - out to the audience. Given the choice, would you rather have your calves tickled or your bottom?
STEWART: It's a no-brainer.
CHUNG: Yes, it is behind.
STEWART: It's bottom.
CHUNG: It is bottom.
COULTON: Art, I have never see you squirm like that before.
COULTON: All right. This is question number 100. Where are we? All right. In what play does a character named Aaron utter this immortal line, which is funny because it's true?
EISENBERG: Villain, I have done thy mother.
STEWART: I have not played that role...
STEWART: ...But I was on stage when it was spoken. I think that is from "Titus Andronicus."
COULTON: That's correct.
EISENBERG: It's, like, the origin of the yo mama joke. Is that...
EISENBERG: ...Where it starts?
COULTON: All right, in which play does a character tell three witches...
EISENBERG: You should be women, yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.
STEWART: You just put this into make me feel good didn't you?
STEWART: Well, yeah. It's what we in the English theater fondly refer to as the Scottish Play.
EISENBERG: We're still safe. We're still safe, since you answered that way.
STEWART: Oh, yeah. When I started rehearsing "Macbeth," oh, about eight years ago...
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Ooh (ph)...
STEWART: No, no, no. No - listen to what I have to say.
STEWART: You know, there is this superstition about "Macbeth," and it's really serious. Actors will not call it anything else than the Scottish Play. I said there is a little adjustment to this rule - if you have played the role of the Scottish thane then you are allowed to say the title anytime, anywhere.
EISENBERG: So I have to keep it down, but you're OK.
STEWART: I'm fine.
EISENBERG: Shakespeare was fond of the insult hobbyhorse, using it in five plays. In the "Winter's Tale," Leontes says...
COULTON: To have nor eyes, nor ears, nor thought then say my wife's a hobbyhorse deserves a name.
STEWART: Yeah, yeah.
STEWART: What did he mean?
STEWART: He meant that she was promiscuous.
EISENBERG: That is correct, yeah.
EISENBERG: I feel like that's...
STEWART: He was wrong. He is a deluded, insanely jealous man who sees his wife as the center of all of his wicked fantasies. And he kills her, or, at least she dies because of him, as does their son. He's a bad guy.
EISENBERG: Yeah, well he's walking around...
STEWART: It's a great role.
EISENBERG: Bad guy, great role.
STEWART: Yeah. There are two or three lines in Shakespeare that are my favorite lines. You're not going to ask me this, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.
STEWART: And I have always loved not the great, purple passages of Shakespeare - and there are so many, and they're so wonderful - but I love those moments when he has characters say something very simple. The great one from "Winter's Tale," the really great one, is when Leontes - who was so mad and insane and spent 16 years regretting what he had done - is finally introduced to a statue that was made of his wife. And someone says to him, if you believe, she will come back to life. And the statue steps down off her plinths and gives her ex-husband her hand, and he says, oh, she's warm.
EISENBERG: That is creepy, yes.
STEWART: That is not a reason for killing your wife.
EISENBERG: Well, thank...
STEWART: It's bad. Don't do it.
EISENBERG: Thank you for also writing a better end to the quiz than we could have planned.
STEWART: Is it over?
EISENBERG: Yeah 'cause you won.
EISENBERG: Not only is Hillary Anne Kotler going to get an ASK ME ANOTHER anagram T-shirt, but you, Sir Patrick Stewart, are also (laughter) going to get an ASK ME ANOTHER anagram T-shirt. Thank you so much.
STEWART: Thank you.
EISENBERG: Our VIP, Sir Patrick Stewart.
STEWART: Thank you. Thank you very much.
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