January 18, 2008

Quick wit

I adore witty remarks. Not having much skill in this area myself, I tend to read a lot.
Here's my favorite scene from Cyrano de Bergerac...long, but entertaining

Cyrano-Act 1, Scene IV

No one? But wait!
I'll treat him to. . .one of my quips!. . .See here!. . .
(He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air):
Sir, your nose is. . .hmm. . .it is. . .very big!

CYRANO (gravely):

THE VISCOUNT (laughing):

CYRANO (imperturbably):
Is that all?. . .

What do you mean?

Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . .

Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose
I'd amputate it!'

Friendly: 'When you sup
It must annoy you, dipping in your cup;
You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'

Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape!
—A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'

Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular?
For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'

Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think?
I see you've managed with a fond research
To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'

Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .suppose
That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose—
Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,
Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'

Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed low
By such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!'

Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'

Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes
Names Hippocamelelephantoles
Must have possessed just such a solid lump
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'

Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook?
To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'

Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose,
Can give THEE cold!—save when the mistral blows!'

Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'

Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'

Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?'

Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'

Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up!
'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'

Military: 'Point against cavalry!'

Practical: 'Put it in a lottery!

Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!'

Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . .
'Behold the nose that mars the harmony
Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'

—Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said,
Had you of wit or letters the least jot:
But, O most lamentable man!—of wit
You never had an atom, and of letters
You have three letters only!—they spell Ass!
And—had you had the necessary wit,
To serve me all the pleasantries I quote
Before this noble audience. . .e'en so,
You would not have been let to utter one—
Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest!
I take them from myself all in good part,
But not from any other man that breathes!

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