I’ve at times wondered if Shakespeare got much of his “pop culture” status simply by nature of the fact that he is in the public domain, and thus everybody rushes to his body of work for material whenever they need some. I used to work with a guy who was a Hemingway Geek, and one of the things we’d always debate is how my readers could, at will, cut and paste large sections of the plays, while his could not. Hemingway is still very much under an aggressively pursued copyright.
Anyway, that’s a weird way of saying that as my kids go through the Muppets television show on Netflix, we keep running into Shakespeare references mixed in with a whole slew of other ancient comedy material.
In this case it was Season One, Disk 2 and Kermit the Frog was running a panel on the important questions of the day. Miss Piggy was one of the guests on the panel. I only had a brief moment when he said “important questions” to think, “I wonder if he’ll reference Shakespeare?” when he said, and I quote, “Was William Shakespeare Bacon?”
Well you can predict what happens from there – Miss Piggy takes offense at the word “bacon” (although Kermit does clarify that he means Sir Francis), but chaos soon erupts and puns go flying all over the place. There wasn’t much Shakespeare beyond that, but I immediately told the kids “Oh I am so posting that on the blog.”
In a later episode on that same disk, Harvey Korman is playing the lion tamer to a “ferocious” beast that is actually a big cuddly blue monster. “Speak!” he shouts at the monster, and I think “He’s going to quote Shakespeare, isn’t he?” but no, what he says is “Well I was reading Balzac recently, and I had some thoughts …”