Monday, February 15, 2010


Last time, I said that Falstaff should feel better because we made a whole episode about him. Since we spend most of this episode mocking him, maybe not.

Like we say in the episode, if you are a fan, please leave us a comment. We have no idea who you are otherwise!

Episode outline after the break:


   1. Intro
   2. History of Falstaff
         1. Minor historical character
         2. character in play was originally named Oldcastle, descendants objected
               1. meter
               2. pun "knight o' the castle"
               3. Possibly performed with Oldcastle, and only changed for publication (prolly not)
               4. new name possibly inspired by sir john Falstoff
   3. Plays (His story)
         1. Presumably made knight somehow, we get very little of his early life, except for the recounting in part II, where he's revealed to be a college wastrel 55 years ago. Must be at least 70 at the time of the plays.
         2. HIV PI,
               1. At the beginning of hte play, he mentions that he used to be a courtier, (a court layabout) before he knew Hal. He blames Hal for his life of crime.
               2. For the course of the play, he goes from a robber to a shameful soldier
         3. II
               1. Still a shameful soldier, he spends much of his time carousing with lowlifes
               2. We're promised another appearance from him in HV, but nothing.
         4. HV, Death scene recounted.
         5. Merry Wives of Windsor
               1. legend says that the queen personally asked for re-appearance of F
               2. Is MWW still Falstaff?
                     1. Obviously, yes
                           1. that's his name
                     2. Obviously, no
                           1. he's just an idiot that gets fooled a lot, nothing like the character
                           2. lots of fans don't count this as part of the character
                           3. no continuity with his previous story
                                 1. In fact, it's a completely separate timeline
                                 2. He has no association with king, etc.
                           4. Doesn't have any initiative, could be any generic foolish character
   4. His character
         1. Not going to say, "is he a good or bad person", just look at the case for each
         2. What makes him appealing?
               1. Wit
                     1. Loves to quote the bible
                           1. Oddly, refers most to the Dives parable, which would fit him.
                     2. all his insufferable punning
                     3. his performance as Hal and the King
                     4. speech about honour
                     5. I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men
                     6. Can re-charm Quickly
               2. Bravado
                     1. How the world is full of liars!
                     2. Would the companion were sent a better prince!
                     3. never backs down in an argument, even when forced to an absurd extremity
                     4. In Windsor, blandly confesses to all the crimes he's accused of
                           1. "I will answer it straight; I have done all this: that is now answered."
               3. wikipedia quote
               4. Hal's "eulogy", "I could have better spared a better man."
         3. What makes him such a bad person?
               1. Thief
               2. Coward
               3. Liar
               4. physically unfit and grossly obese
               5. Complete whiner
               6. Tends to monologue
   5. Fans
         1. Harold Bloom
         2. Verdi
         3. Orson Welles
   6. News
         1. WTF is with these downloads?
               1. We've had a compy glitch
               2. could people plz comment on the blog, so we know it's not going crazy? Just a "hey, I'm a human being" will be fine.
         2. Next ep is Macbeth, we saw it at the Guthrie
         3. blog
         4. itunes
         5. names
         6. keep listening.


  1. Could I make a request for an obscure non-play episode? I would like to hear something concerning the impact of Michel de Montaigne's essays on Shakespeare's thought. I'm told that there was a significant impact (it comes up in several things that I have read) but I'd be interested if you guys could cover it.

    I look forward to the episode on Macbeth. It is possibly my favourite, and certainly the one I know the best. You may be interested in the recent book by Fiona Watson called "Macbeth: A True Story". It is the latest in a long line of such books that try to rehabilitate the real historical Macbeth after Shakespeare's assault on his reputation (he seems to have been good at that -- John Oldcastle, Richard III spring to mind). Apparently it suffers from a defect common to all such attempts: lack of evidence on the "real" Macbeth.

  2. Two great ideas. I'd never heard of either, and I am looking up both things right now. I can't promise about Montaigne, since I haven't done the research yet, but I'm definitely going to look into it.


  3. Enjoying this podcast (as well as Chop Bard) very much. Keep up the good work!

    Your Falstaff podcast requested a little more information about your listeners. I write software for a living and I'm tired of doing it. Obama is too conservative. I read lots of science fiction and poetry. I've been to Europe and Africa. I speak a little Spanish. I am 55.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. I'm hoping it's just a coincidence that your name is the same as the upcoming Oxfordian Roland Emmerich film! :P

  5. I listen!
    I haven't been listening recently because I've been too busy being in Twelfth Night, but I very much intend to catch up and read along over spring break :)
    also if you guys need someone to do research or transcribe or something, I'd love to help out in some way. cheers-

  6. Thanks for your offer of help, really, but I honestly don't know what we could use someone else for. It's kind of a self-contained operation. I'll make sure to keep it in mind though.

    Thanks again for the offer.

  7. Hey Guys,

    I love the podcast. It is very fun and informative.

    I have a few requests.

    First of all, I would love to hear you guys do some of the more obscure plays, such as "Timon of Athens", "Troilus and Cressida", "Winter's Tale", etc. (by the way, "Timon" is pronounced TIE-mun, rymes with Simon)and other plays that are VERY difficult to track down live performances.

    Secondly, and this is more for the general population than it is for me, but would be a nice addition to your podcast, would be a "Language of Shakespeare" episode that talks about how Shakespeare uses ENGLISH, not "Old English" or "Middle English". The examples that I've heard used to show the difference between the three are:

    Old English - Beowulf (untranslated)

    Middle English - Canterbury Tales (untranslated)

    and Shakespeare

    Also, if you could discuss why Iambic Pentameter was a more "realistic" or natural style of speaking than were the other forms of the time. Compared to Doggerel or some of the 7 foot lines, Iambic Pentameter is actually VERY natural to speak and hear.

    And, a discussion about the different forms of verse and perhaps some examples of where Shakespeare incorporates them would be nice.

    I'm talking about Pyrrhic (spelling might be wonky there), Iambic, Trochaic, Anapestic, Dactyl, and Spondee. Shakespeare has examples of all of these in his verse, and often they can be very interesting indicators for the actors (because of their use more for acting it may be beyond the scope/goal of your podcast). Lines that incorporate only monosyllables are also very telling, as are lines that have fewer than 10 syllables (often indicating some sort of "pause" or action).

    Another interesting thing to talk about would be the Shakespearean rehearsal process and how actors were given their roles. My understanding is that an Actor only got to see his lines and the last three words of his cue line. There is an excellent example of how this was used to great dramatic effect, but I can't for the life of me remember which play it was in. A character (I believe a king) is talking to his servant and he says those last three words of his monologue several times, which would indicate to the other actor that it is time to speak now, so the other actor starts speaking, but the king doesn't stop, so the other actor needs to wait. This happens several times, which make a quite comic effect, and then when the king finally does stop speaking (after numerous false starts by the other actor), the other actor's little monologue is about how the king will just never shut up.

    It is an excellent example of just how amazing Shakespeare was at using the verse. If you guys could find that example I would be enormously grateful.

    I would also love to see the 60 second summary brought back. And, I think it would be awesome, if you could do these at the beginning AND end of the play podcasts so that we get sort of an intro and conclusion that recaps what we've gone over. I would find it tremendously helpful.

    And my one critique of the show is that some of your pronunciations are funky. This definitely doesn't apply to all of them, but frequently I have a hard time following due to mispronunciations. Ephesus (EF-uh-SUS) for example, and the plural of Antipholus is Antipholi, like cactus and cacti.

    Anyways, keep up the great work, and don't let this podcast die!

    All the best,

    Alex Hall

  8. Alex, this is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to get when I was soliciting responses. Don't worry about the podcast dying; we're recording MacBeth tomorrow, it should be up in a few days.

  9. I have now been able to listen to all of your podcasts, except for your Abridged/Cliff Note versions of the Tempest, Henry the 1st and Falstaff (in these instances I skimmed them, because listening to you two chaps bastardizing the Queen's English was at first, funny, but after you are continually failing to properly pronounce your words, it fast became excruciating! 'Lucretia' is pronounced (phonetically) "Lewcreasha" FFS!

    Have you every thought of trying htt:// ? It will help you both not to look/sound like complete twits!

    Oh and enough of comparing Shakespeare’s work with the bloody stupid films that have been made. This is a very quick way of getting lost, especially in the cockpit. You are supposed to read from the Ground to the Map, not the other way away! Most everything out of a cinema is bollocks anyway.

    Yes I am an Englishman from Dorset, who is now living in this land of Baseball and bad Rugby (almost 20 years.) Twelfth Night is my favourite Play.

    Did you know that there are 692 individual Roles cast in all 37 of his Plays?

    My favourite names (not characters) range from Sir Christopher Sly, Cobweb, Nick Bottom, Robin Starvling, Tom Snout, Peaseblossom, Mistress Quickly, Anthony Dull, Posthumas Leonatus, Gaius Trebonius, Sextus Pompeius, Vaux, Pistol, Silence, and Simon Shadow.

    Regardless of all the bashing that I have done in this message, I must say that you blokes are doing a pretty good job of it. So keep it coming mateys!


    Jeremy R.C. Cox

  10. I see the mistake you've made Jeremy: we can't do anything to the Queen's English, since the Queen doesn't run American English, and we only speak in American.

    "Oh and enough of comparing Shakespeare’s work with the bloody stupid films that have been made. This is a very quick way of getting lost, especially in the cockpit"
    Not sure what you mean by that.

    Anyway, thanks for your (belated) compliment, I suppose.

  11. I think what he means is that the films are so irrelevant to the plays, that by us comparing them, we're losing the point of things. The cockpit part means that we're in charge, so we should be providing a better example.

    Anyways, Twelfth Night is also my favorite, and you can't pronounce Lucretia in the Queen's English because it's an Italian name, otherwise, thanks for the pronunciation guide, I'll try to make use of it.

  12. Hello Carson and Jeff, you asked for ideas... Well, for an academic exercise in what it would physically take to write an average length (~2,700 line) Shakespearean play (in iambic pentameter verse) I wrote one.
    The Logline is:

    _To Each Their Own_
    'In Shakespeare's Kingdom of Illyria, a storm at sea transforms three slaves into Nobles at the court of their master's enemy. When their masters arrive and are made into their servants, the new 'Nobles' must decide if taking every advantage - including their Host's daughters - is better than simply being Free.'

    It turned out fairly well and received good reviews at a recent contest and from as far away as New Zealand. Would you be interested in seeing it for a possible review?

    If, or if not, could you do an episode on the "Shakespearean-esque qualities of non-Shakespearean parts of movies such as "Shakespeare in Love" "Stage Beauty" "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead" etc.

    Thanks, G.Robin Smith, Seattle WA

  13. I didn't mention in my last post how much I enjoy your Podcast. I listen to one or two a day and it helps me in my on-going research for writing and teaching about Elizabethan Theatre.

    Lovely stuff.
    Best, G.Robin

  14. Sorry to post here so late. I only recently discovered this great podcast. I was wonder why Shakespeare chose the name "Falstaff" as opposed to something that would've actually fit the meter.

  15. That's a good question, we should have mentioned it. He's probably named after a Sir John Fastolf.

  16. Thanks gents. I agree with your comments on Falstaff.