Here’s a basic rule: if you’re reading or watching a Shakespeare play, and you’re not imagining the actors standing in front of a mosh pit of jeering Londoners waiting to throw vegetables at the stage, you’re doing it wrong.
Shakespeare might have written the best works in the English language, or given us profound insight into the nature of humanity, or whatever — but his works wouldn’t have survived to our day if he hadn’t been popular when he was alive, and he wouldn’t have been popular when he was alive if he hadn’t been able to please the crowd. And that includes a lot of dirty jokes. A lot.
Sometimes in incredibly inappropriate places. We’re here to rescue a few of those for you, and retroactively embarrass the heck out of your fourteen-year-old self, who had to stand up in English class and read things that, in retrospect, are absolutely filthy.
This isn’t about the stuff that always does crack fourteen-year-olds up in English class, but is totally innocent: the “bring me my long sword, ho!” sort of thing.
But the kids who lose it every time the word ‘ho’ is uttered are closer to the spirit of Shakespeare than the teacher who demands they treat the words like museum pieces.
Sure, it would be awkward for teachers to explain the Elizabethan double entendres to their students — but pretending they don’t exist makes Shakespeare seem unnecessarily stuffy and difficult.
So we’re going to start with the most obvious innuendoes, and move on to some seriously advanced sex punnery that is probably going to blow your mind.