Shakespeare in Jest draws fascinating parallels between Shakespeare's humour and contemporary humour. Indira Ghose argues that while many of Shakespeare's jokes no longer work for us, his humour was crucial in shaping comedy in today's entertainment industry.
The book looks at a wide variety of plays and reads them in conjunction with examples from contemporary culture, from stand-up comedy to late night shows. Ghose shows the importance of jokes, the functions of which are remarkably similar in Shakespeare’s time and ours. Shakespeare's wittiest characters are mostly women, who use wit to puncture male pretensions and to acquire cultural capital. Clowns and wise fools use humour to mock their betters, while black humour trains the spotlight on the audience, exposing our collusion in the world it skewers. In a discussion of the ethics of humour, the book uncovers striking affinities between Puritan attacks on the theatre and contemporary attacks on comedy.
An enjoyable and accessible read, this lively book will enlighten and entertain students, researchers, and general readers interested in Shakespeare, humour, and popular culture.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Joking Relationships 2. Women and Wit 3. Clowns and Wise Fools 4. Black Humour 5. Humour and Ethics
Indira Ghose is Professor of English at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. She has published widely on early modern wit, jesting, and laughter.