Bawdy, or bawdiness… how can I express how much I love this type of humor. Being bawdy, is not overt but covert. You are conveying something a little sexual or a little ‘dirty,’ without being direct about it. The slightly sexual nature, or the fact that what is said can be taken as sexual is what makes bawdiness humorous. The fact that everyone in the crowd might not get it, that the performers might have shot over the head of some of the crowd, is why I enjoy being bawdy and watching bawdy.
Shakespeare is choke full of bawdy.
“But I might see Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene 1
This is one of my favorites. The imagery is perfect and like most good bawdy lines, I bet most of the people in the crowd didn’t get it. Think about the scene being done at a late show in the Globe in the 16th century.
Actor on stage delivering the line: ”Oh that I might see (pause for effect) Cupid’s fiery shaft (emphasis on shaft).” (waits for the line to sink in and then talks over his own laugh) “Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon (emphasis on chaste)”
The crowd falls out. People in the front row, the rabble, are explaining it to their peers that didn’t get it. People in the more expensive seats are either laughing or pretending they didn’t get and acting like they are surprised at the humor and the double entendre that has just been uttered. And though they are acting offended, they got the joke and Shakespeare got his laugh. (for more on this check out this blog piece by TheMarySue)
Some of the bawdy humor at the Ren Faire is a little more direct but it is still excellently formed. Here are a few of my favs, excuse me if I have hosed a line here or there:
I was hung from yonder tree
Before that I hung to my knee
A moose always swallows
And camels just spit
D’Angelo – It is more like a sexy don’t. The curtains don’t watch the draps.
Scaramouche: What do you mean drapes, I have hardwood floors.
Raphael: We know because we watch you waxing them all the time.
So, don’t be afraid to be Bawdy. Use your words to some effect. Make sure you get the response you want, but have the chance to pretend you didn’t really mean, what they thought you meant. Let them have the dirty mind for taking it wrong. Trust me, it’s funny.
-Bobaganush the Pirate