Dirty Jokes in Shakespeare

[ This could turn not-safe-for-work (NSFW) pretty quickly, so beware …. ] We’ve had Bawdy Shakespeare and Filthy Shakespeare.  Whether or not you believe that every other word out of Shakespeare’s mouth was a euphemism for naughty bits, the simple truth is that these topics have long been one of the most popular Google searches. So, to have some fun and make it easy for the high school kids who want something to giggle at in English class, I ask : what’s your favorite Shakespeare dirty joke? One of my favorites, I can’t even really do justice here – but I’m talking about the scene in Comedy of Errors between Dromio and Antipholus of Syracuse.  Claiming that his newly discovered wife is “spherical like a globe” and that he “could name countries in her”, they do a hysterical schtick where Antipholus asks “Where was Ireland? What about Spain? France?” until finally getting in a big finish when he asks about her Netherlands.  Here’s a link to the full script, I can’t at the moment find a better link. I count this among favorites because, when I saw it performed, I laughed hysterically.  Malvolio’s comment in Twelfth Night about “her C’s, U’s and T’s” might be more filthy, but I don’t know that it’s as funny.  And I’ve always assumed that Hamlet was trying to be offensive, not funny, when he asked about country matters.

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11 thoughts on “Dirty Jokes in Shakespeare

  1. I'm personally a HUGE fan of the C's U's and T's joke "and thus does she make her great P's!" is a wonderful punch line that is more juvenile than dirty. Love it.

    Re-reading Henry VIII with our High School Fellowship this week revealed a good (albeit obvious) gem: "If your back cannot vouchsafe this burden, 'tis too weak ever to get a boy." (act 2, sc 3) – which actually has a good load of bad jokes about "working" Anne's way through court.

  2. That reminds me, CG, doesn't the Nurse say something fairly inappropriate to 13yr old Juliet like "You'll need to learn how to fall backward (i.e. spend some time on your back) if you ever want a husband?" Surely somebody must have the exact line, but I'm making dinner at the moment :).

  3. @Duane I think it's "Thou shalt fall backwards when thou hast more wit!" because she's been telling the story about Juliet falling down and cutting her chin when she was 3. And then she goes on to "women grow by men" and other such things. Now that I think about it, the blatant sexuality of Juliet's "Come night" speech makes a lot of sense, considering who raised her. 😉

    @Andrew As I discovered when directing R&J, Mercutio is absolutely incapable of getting on- and off-stage without making some form of penis joke. I kind'a love it. ;D

  4. Cass, were you hanging around when we did a lengthy thread on Juliet's whole "When I shall die" speech, and whether it was related to the whole "orgasm == little death" thing, i.e. she was daydreaming about losing her virginity? That day I learned that the whole little death thing had to do with… umm….hmmm….spending one's life seed, shall we say? And thus having a little death. Since this didn't apply to women, neither did the little death thing.


  5. Hamlet….good Lads: How doe ye both?
    Rosin. As the indifferent Children of the earth.
    Guild. Happy, in that we are not over-happy: on Fortunes Cap, we are not the very Button.
    Ham. Nor the Soles of her Shoe?
    Rosin. Neither my Lord.
    Ham. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favour?
    Guild. Faith, her privates, we.
    Ham. In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true: she is a Strumpet.

  6. Not so much a dirty joke, but one of my favorite lines is from Measure For Measure, explaining why Claudio has been imprisoned:

    "What's his offense?"

    "Groping for Trout in a Peculiar River."

  7. So true about Mercutio, Cass.
    He's also not at a loss when it comes to witticism re: female genitalia.

    –To raise a spirit in his Mistress' Circle,
    Of some strange nature…

    –Now will he sit under a Medlar tree,
    And wish his Mistress were that kind of Fruite

    Later to Romeo:
    –O flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified…

    –for this driveling Love is like a great Naturall, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.

    Even Romeo gets into it, talking about serving sauce into a Sweet Goose, etc.
    Their whole exchange there is nothing but sexual innuendo.
    Yep, it's a "potty mouth" play. But so much fun.

  8. Reminds me–on marriage, 'the hunt', and 'sheathing' one's 'bugle' (horn)

    Benedick: That a woman conceived me, I thanke her: that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thankes: but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead,

    or hang my bugle in an invisible baldricke,

    all women shall pardon me:
    Much Ado 1.1.223-27

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