John Wayne Cast as Hamlet: A Great Joke About the Plays and Language of Shakespeare

On the DVD Looking for Richard (a documentary), Al Pacino tells a great joke that goes something like this (I’m paraphrasing):

In a city stage production, John Wayne is cast as Hamlet.

On the opening night, characteristically, Wayne struts about the stage and speaks his lines like, well, John Wayne.

The audience is initially charmed, but toward the end of the play, the crowd is booing and clucking at the production ferociously.

Wayne, saddened by the audience’s experience of the play, abruptly stops in the dead-middle of a soliloquy, struts to the lip of the stage, stands with his arms out and says to the crowd:

Don’t blame me—I didn’t write this shit! 

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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