June 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm #16688
These make for fun reading but let’s challenge ourselves a little more than that…
1. “You ride a horse rather less well than another horse would. Your brain would make a grain of sand look large and ungainly and the part of you that can’t be mentioned, I am reliably informed by women around the Court, wouldn’t be worth mentioning even if it could be.”
2. “Give the likes of Baldrick the vote and we’ll be back to cavorting druids, death by stoning and dung for dinner…”
3. “Baldrick, does it have to be this way? Our valued friendship ending with me cutting you up into strips and telling the prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat?”
4. “Field Marshal Haig is about to make yet another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches close to Berlin.”
5. “You find yourself amusing, Blackadder.” “I try not to fly in the face of public opinion.”
6. “Baldrick, believe me, eternity in the company of Beelzebub and all his hellish instruments of death will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil if we can’t replace this dictionary.”
7. “Oh, God. Fortune vomits on my eiderdown once more.”
8. “You mean they [actors] actually rehearse? I thought they just got drunk, stuck on silly hats and trusted to luck.”
9. “Such activities are totally beyond my mother. My father only got anywhere with her because he told her it was a cure for diarrhoea.”
10. “I’ve no desire to hang around with a bunch of upper-class delinquents, do 20 minutes’ work and then spend the rest of the day loafing about in Paris drinking gallons of champagne and having dozens of moist, pink, highly experienced French peasant girls galloping up and down my – hang on…”
11. “They do say, Mrs M, that verbal insults hurt more than physical pain. They are, of course, wrong, as you will soon discover when I stick this toasting fork into your head.”
12. “I couldnt be more petrified if a wild Rhinoceros had just come home from a hard day at the swamp and found me wearing his pyjamas, smoking his cigars and in bed with his wife.”
13. “Bloody explorers, ponce off to Mumbo Jumbo land, come home with a tropical disease, a suntan and a bag of brown lumpy things, and Bob’s your uncle, everyone’s got a picture of them in the lavatory.
14. “Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words ‘I have a cunning plan’ marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?”
15. “To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was something that just happened to other people, wasn’t it?”
16. “Congrats. Stop. Have discovered only person in world less funny than you. Stop. Name – Baldrick. Stop. PS. Please, please, please – stop.” (Telegram to Charlie Chaplin, after seeing Baldrick’s Chaplin impression)
17. “The path of my life is strewn with cowpats from the devil’s own satanic herd.”
18. “I think the phrase rhymes with Clucking Bell!”
19. “There hasn’t been a war run this badly since Olaf the hairy, King of all the Vikings, ordered 80,000 battle helmets with the horns on the inside.”
20. “If Baldrick served a meal at HQ he would be arrested for the biggest mass poisoning since Lucretia Borgia invited 500 friends for a Wine and Anthrax Party.”
21. “I will return before you can say ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’.”
22. “Worst idea since someone said ‘yeah let’s take this suspiciously large wooden horse into Troy, statues are all the rage this season’.”
23. “I’m sorry I’m late.” “No, don’t bother apologising. I’m sorry you’re alive.”
24. “Baldrick, you wouldn’t recognise a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on a harpsicord singing ‘subtle plans are here again’.”
25. “A man may fight for many things. His country, his principles, his friends. The glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I’d mud-wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn.”
26. “Baldrick, I want you to take this and go out and buy a turkey so large, you’d think its mother had been rogered by an omnibus. I’m going to have a party, and no one’s invited but me!”
27. “This place stinks like a pair of armoured trousers after the Hundred Years War. Baldrick, have you been eating dung again?”
28. “I don’t take kindly to insults.” “Funny, with a face like yours, I’d have thought you’d be used to it by now.”
29. “I’m as poor as a church mouse, that’s just had an enormous tax bill on the very day his wife ran off with another mouse, taking all the cheese.”
30. “I think I’ll write my tombstone – ‘Here lies Edmund Blackadder, and he’s bloody annoyed’.”
Are you an aspiring TV writer (who will need to be able to match the humor and tone of a writing room when you get a staff writing job) or a comedy writer?
1. Work through these insults, one at a time, and work out what makes them funny. If you’re an analytical writer, look for the comedy engine. If you’re a comedy writer who doesn’t care to “dissect the frog”, try to internalize the patterns and rhythms of the lines.
2. Once you’ve got a handle on how these lines work, write your own version. Punch these up and make them funnier (and if you can, my hat goes off to you). Write an alternate line that would work in the same place. Match the tone and style so well that you can pass off what you writes as lines from the series.
If anyone wants to work through these, I would be delighted to analyze them with you (I’m a frog dissector from way back) and work on new lines with you.June 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm #16698
I’m laughing out loud thinking back to that show, side splittingly funny. My favourite scene (well, one of the many hundreds):
Dr. Samuel Johnson: [places two manuscripts on the table, but picks up the top one] Here it is, sir. The very cornerstone of English scholarship. This book, sir, contains every word in our beloved language.
Blackadder: Every single one, sir?
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Every single word, sir!
Blackadder: Oh, well, in that case, sir, I hope you will not object if I also offer the Doctor my most enthusiastic contrafribularities.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: What?
Blackadder: “Contrafribularites”, sir? It is a common word down our way.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Damn!
[writes in the book]
Blackadder: Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I’m anispeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation.June 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm #16701
Sorry for highjacking the thread but couldn’t stop myself posting a couple of quotes!
Does this stuff seem as funny if you haven’t ever seen the show???
This exchange just epitomises the relationship between Edmund and Baldric (dead pan response from baldric with the punchline):
[referring to Dr. Johnson's dictionary]
Blackadder: Right, Baldrick. Where’s the manuscript?
Baldrick: You mean the big papery thing tied up with string?
Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick. The manuscript belonging to Dr. Johnson.
Baldrick: You mean the baity fellow in the black coat who just left?
Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick. Dr. Johnson.
Baldrick: So, you’re asking where the big papery thing tied up with string belonging to the baity fellow in the black coat who just left is?
Blackadder: Yes, Baldrick. I am. And if you don’t answer, then the booted bony thing with five toes at the end of my leg will soon connect sharply with soft, dangly collection of objects in your trousers. Now for the last time, Baldrick, where is Dr. Johnson’s manuscript?
Baldrick: On the fire.
Blackadder: On the what?
Baldrick: The hot, orangy thing under the stony mantelpiece.June 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm #16702
Some Blackadderish quotes by Winston Churchill:
Bessie Braddock: “Sir, you are drunk.”
Churchill: “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”
Nancy Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”
Churchill: “If I were your husband I would take it.”June 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm #16703
Yes, Churchill’s acerbic wit is much of a muchness with Blackadder’s.
You seem to know you way around the series, Simon. Do you ever write comedy in this vein yourself? (If you put yourself to the test, could you pull it off?)June 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm #16712
I seem to have been blessed with a memory for what I have seen on tv and film, and I’ve seen a lot of it. Porridge, Morecombe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, Only Fools and Horses.
But actually write the stuff? Hmmmmm, never tried, comedy’s not my bag really – and I would probably just come up with a weird homogenised mix of the above mentioned shows. Here’s my writing biog – feedback welcome:
That said, I do have a porn parody brewing, it’s in very early stages, but I’m not sure it would ever get the green light. But it makes me laugh already. It would be non-gratuitous fly on the wall sort of thing, set around the admin office in an adult film production company. Sort of a cross between The Brittas Empire and The Office with a dash of Little Britain. Focus would be on the characters and their lives outside of their job, highlighting the mundane aspects in stark contrast to their professional lives. Each week sees them producing a new film based on famous titles or something like that. I have the first episode title: Hairy Spotter and the Prisoner of Asskabang.
Probably not to the taste of many but I know me and my mates would rofpmsl at it.June 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm #16779
Telegraph readers, hrrm.
Anyway, this one got reused in Blackadder, Back & Forth. Not just funny, but poignant too.
[another call: "Stand ready" - they put their hands on the ladders ready to climb]
Private Baldrick: I have a plan, sir.
Captain Blackadder: Really Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?
Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.
Captain Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?
Private Baldrick: Yes, sir.
[another call: "On the signal, Company will advance"]
Captain Blackadder: Well, I’m afraid it’s too late. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was better than my plan to get out of here by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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