Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Pee Jokes, the Italian Renaissance, Commedia Dell’Arte: Crash Course Theater #12


[Music] hey there I’m Mike Rugnetta this is crash course theater and today we’re gonna be moving from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance a time of discovery innovation Beauty sophistication and comedy in this episode we’re gonna take a trip to Italy exploring the elegance of the neoclassical revival and the invention of one of theirs best-loved popular forms commedia dell’arte that’s right the Golden Age of the poop joke has dawned [Music] the Renaissance in Italy lasts from roughly 1,300 to 1,600 that earlier date overlaps pretty significantly with the late Middle Ages because no one really puts out press releases letting everyone know when a historical era has ended plus cultural change takes time a lot of the forms we’ll talk about today were in vogue at the same time as those cycle plays and to their present wagons but Mystery Plays and passion plays never really caught on in Italy which may explain why other genres flourished if the Middle Ages were about God and yes I am generalizing because they were also about feudalism and Crusades itchy clothing and the plague then the Renaissance was about people and also still the plague the Renaissance introduced humanism the idea that earthly life isn’t just a veil of Tears that might lead to heaven if you’re good but is maybe worthy in and of itself this encouraged an upsurge in human achievement music and medicine and visual arts and physics and theatre – hey that’s us theater starts moving forward by looking backward we know from our episode on Russ Vita that Roman drama never disappeared the plays of Terrence and plowed us and Seneca were read throughout the Middle Ages but they weren’t performed they were enjoyed for their style in the case of the comedies and their moral lessons in the case of the senic and tragedies in the 1300s Italian writers started trying to make these plays their own but it took a while for them to come up with anything as distinctive as Russ Vitas work most early attempts were based on Roman tragedies but by the late 13 90s Italians were writing Roman style comedies too with twins and mix ups and you know all the good stuff you come to expect for a while these plays were written in Latin and they weren’t intended for performance but in 1429 a bunch of plow das’s plays were found and when Constantinople fell a bunch of Greek manuscripts returned to Italy by the late 1400s some Nobles wondered hey what if we turned the banquet hall into a theater and put on ploughed us and then a few years after that they wondered hey would it be more fun if plays were written in the vernacular rather than in Latin and spoke to how we live now and then presto neoclassical plays so-called because they are classical and also new at first writers churned out loudest like comedies with young lovers mean parents and cheating wives even niccolò machiavelli got in on the action with the Mandrake these comedies were called camellia era DITA or erudite comedies because they were based on classical models that you had to be well-read to know but were they all that classical yes and no by 1498 Aristotle’s Poetics was back in circulation and people were actually reading it by 1550 but their takeaway was pretty different from Aristotle’s Italian writers got rid of choruses they moved towards greater realism and often wrote tragedies with happy endings which we now call tragic comedies Italians decided that tragedy had to teach useful moral lessons an idea borrowed from the Roman critic Horace and they really ran with it almost all of these plays were privately produced by courts or schools they were staged to honor some person or event Nobles made up the audience’s and Nobles usually made up the actors – if you were a lower class person your chances of seeing comedia are edita in performance were slim but luckily comedia era dita wasn’t the only theatre game in town a lot of Italian Renaissance theaters innovation didn’t have much to do with the plays themselves Italians were Wizards of stage craft they were like I’ll see your trapdoor and your medieval Hellmouth and I’ll raise you crazy advances in perspective and also rigging so oh he’s got somewhere to go that guy the staging Renaissance gets started when 15th century Italians discovered Vitruvius ax stretch s de arquitectura which was written around 15 BCE and is basically the poetics of architecture chock-a-block with set design protips the discovery of a single point perspective painting it transformed theater sets to helping them look three-dimensional though it helps if you’re the Emperor or the Duke or the count or whatever because single point perspective really only works if you’re sitting smack in the center which is where the nobility were placed typical in the 17th century we get shifting scenery which is accomplished with wing panels that slide in and out on grooves in the floor among other methods when a scene changed wing panels slid out each set of painted wings that disappeared revealed more just behind in the late 1500s gardens and banquet halls give way to permanent purpose-built theaters possibly the first in Europe since Roman times in Vincenza the Olympic Academy built the Teatro Olimpico which opened in 1585 and was designed by rock star architect Andrea Palladio it’s very busy and looks a lot like a Roman theater got shrunk and enclosed it wasn’t used very much but it influenced later theaters it’s widened arch may have contributed to the proscenium arch which you’ll recognize in most Broadway theaters today arches or rectangles that frame the stage from the audience’s perspective in Renaissance Italy how-to books also circulated detailing effects to make gods and clouds rise above the stage rocks and trees sink below it ocean scenes were common as were fire effects and contraptions that mimicked the sound of wind and thunder no electricity for a while still so candles and oil lamps lit the action which typically made the theater hot and hazy all this was pretty cool but not as cool as the commedia dell’arte which means artful comedy or the comedy of players it’s the earthier lustier counterpart to the commedia era Dita and it has an even more dramatic special effect women that’s right from 1560 on women were finally allowed on stage in Italy they won’t show up on stage in England for another century more on that later scholars can’t really agree on the origins of the commedia dell’arte but the most popular theory traces its lineage from our old lewd friend the antolín farces these have been preserved by strolling minstrels and gestures during the Middle Ages like the Ottoman forces commedia dell’arte relies on stock characters and improvised situations that allow the actors to string together conveniently memorized lines in an array of pre-arranged comedic bits called lotzie basically a lot so is a gag there are books listing hundreds of lotzie like hat lot see and food lot C and P lot C and just less slot-c involving butts the mix of lot see and improvisation meant that while most stories progressed along the usual flautist tyrants Menander like lines an audience never knew exactly which lot see a stock character would throw into the mix or how other stock characters would react ah that was a lot so of fear it was hilarious stock characters were based on regional types so each had a specific style address a specific accent and even a specific food associated with them each traveling troupe of eight to twelve actors had a slightly different mix of types but here are some of the main ones masters servants and blowers let’s see some more in the thought level there are usually three masters that captain or Capitano he’s a Spanish military guy with a mask and a cape and a sword and a moustache he’s swaggering and Bragi until he actually gets near a fight and then he’s a coward Pantalone a is a miserly merchant type from Venice who wears a red vest and a long coat plus a mask with a big nose and a gray beard even though he’s old he lusts after young women and the young women are not psyched about the doctor or ilda Toure is surprised a doctor from Bologna masked and dressed like an academic the doctor is a friend of pantalones and he needs everyone to know how smart he is so he uses a lot of Latin words and phrases some of the grosser urine lotzie involve him and his wife is often cheating on him between the Latin and the urine I mean can you blame her and now the servants who are often called zani they’re mostly men though some troops had women who played maids Harlequin or are Latino wears a green mask and a diamond suit he carries a wooden sword that he hits people with he’s wily and acrobatic but also kind of simple and boy is he hungry he speaks in gibberish butcha nello was a less defined type but he’s from Naples and dressed in a hunchback and a pointy hat there was another servant brighella who was mean kind of a Lech that he’s really more of an 18th century figure finally the lovers they are nice and fresh faced and cut sometimes they’re a little stupid they don’t wear masks they’re kind of boring still it’s their love often forded it gets the plot going Thank You thought-bubble we still have books of lot C and even some commedia dell’arte scripts though they’re not that great later dramatists like 18th century writer carlo Goldoni wrote plays based on commedia dell’arte so you can check out a work like the servant of two masters if you’re curious what we do know is these plays follow conventional narrative lines but what happens in the middle is fast and gross and apparently really really funny because the genre lasts for centuries into today ever heard of slapstick yeah that was a term for our Latinos wooden sword a slap stick yeah right slap oh come on you’re no fun so the next time you see some rude physical comedy amaze and delight your friends by telling them that the wedgie they just saw derives from an Italian Renaissance form and then hope that your friends still talk to you don’t avoid eye contact with me where are you going next time we’ll get serious sort of when we set sail for England and explore Elizabethan theatre before some bloke named Shakespeare shows up and hugs all the candle powered spotlights until then curtain crash-course theatre is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios head over to their channel to check out some of their shows like the art assignment and Aeons and it’s okay to be smart crash course theater is filmed in each chad and stacey emigholz studio in indianapolis indiana and is produced with the help of all of these very nice people our animation team is thought cafe crash course exists thanks to the generous support of our patrons at patreon patreon is a voluntary subscription service where you can support the content you love through a monthly donation and help keep crash course free for everyone forever thanks for watching

82 thoughts on “Pee Jokes, the Italian Renaissance, Commedia Dell’Arte: Crash Course Theater #12

  1. okay,i'm not going to write any shittty comment in here so
    surrender your likes right now or else………………………

    i think it's worth a shot (-;

  2. In the Tivoli hotel in Copenhagen there's commedia dell arte clowns in every room in the building…. Also, the genre comes up in a couple of episodes of Studio 60 (by Aaron Sorkin who did The West Wing) so, as you say, still being used today :-).

  3. Back when the Renaissance Pleasure Faire still did "workshop in the woods" (this is a decade or two ago, I think even before REP/REC bought Faire) one of the actors from the comedia troupe would give the kids a brief rundown of the characters, cast them, and have them do a quick sketch. For Dottore she lined up the kids, had them strike an officious pose, and bade them recite "I am Il Dottore. I am from the university. I am full of knowledge. I am full of bologna."

  4. That's why people become homeless,Β  this is what it looks to strive for.Β  Stargate /Β  Time MachineΒ  please…..UFO

  5. Fart jokes are universal among humans. Even if you can't understand each other, if one you let's out a random fart in the appropriate context, you'll get a chuckle.

  6. Someone peed in the snow at the Whitehouse. They wrote "Trump Sucks".
    President Trump had the secret service investigate this. They told him it was Vice President Pence but there was more bad news, it was in Melania's hand writing.πŸ’“πŸ’₯

  7. If you touch theπŸ‘‡black point then your youtube will hang

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  8. One of my acting professors in college actually did a one woman show based on commedia dell'arte

  9. Capitano was the original stolen valor villain. He was usually portrayed as a braggart eager to impress people about his military and sexual exploits but turns out to be a phony.

  10. why doesnt anyone say the truth about renaissance? renaissance was a time when europeans woke up to the fact that christianity broke their link to their past. ppl were interested in revitalising their past. later on christianity hijacked the past AGAIN.

  11. Oof. As a medievalist who specializes in the late middle ages, I cringed at that intro. Looks like someone needs to watch the original Crash Course World History's video on the Renaissance.

  12. I've seen millions of people call the 21st Century to be the greatest era of human history. Despite the fact that we're only eighteen years into it.

    But in my eyes, little has been achieved here that can measure up to that of the Renaissance. During that time; things like the arts, philosophy, literature and other things took center stage. Whereas today, people have traded art for technology.

    I've heard people say many times "no one reads anymore." Which is pretty stupid because since the Renaissance, reading has been essential. To trade a perfectly good book for a tablet with electronic pages is just…sad.

    Not only that but philosophical studies are almost non-existent. Nations give money solely towards athletic pursuits, instead of artistic ones and don't even get me started on our time's poor ideas of music

  13. I've always learned about Il Dottore as a far more interesting and fun character; his usual attributes are that he merely 'pretends' to be a genius in medicine, business and law, but actually is a complete idiot, and steals all his ideas from his servant πŸ˜› Oh, also, he is played as someone rather overweight, so has to haul himself by his belly around the stage!

  14. This basically sounds like Vaudeville. A lot of people don't realize that the Marx Brothers and Red Skelton were basically just doing stock characters that were popular at the time, and it just so happened that they were lucky enough to be the ones who translated those characters from stage to film.

  15. My cat (this one, on my head) is named Arlicchino! He talks all the time, has a diamond-shaped spot on his side, his mask is black, he likes whacking things. He can be motivated to do tricks like roll-over, high five and patty-cake by feeding him treats, which he will take even after a full meal. When he gets scared (like by the vacuum cleaner) he hides so some of our house cleaners have never seen him.

  16. I’ve been waiting for you guys to do an episode on Commedia Dell’Arte foreeever! That’s my favorite!

  17. Never thought I'd see the day when crashcourse got PBS grants! Can't believe I've spent a decade this website either haha.

  18. I want Commedia Dell'Arte to make a comeback. Not historical recreationism, but like, the format updated. So, like, something like standup or skit shows, but with semi-formalised archetypes. We've got more than the Italians had (just browse TvTropes). The whole thing could be a vehicle for satirising contemporary issues. Trump, for instance, is basically 'Capitano becomes president'.

  19. Are you going to talk about Medical Theatres? And the reason we call a sterilized surgery room "Theatre"?

  20. Not to say that the Renaissance is the most important historical period, but the Renaissance is the most important historical period.

  21. fun fact about Niccolo Machiavelli, he was part of a secret brotherhood in Italy , which many say he might have been the leader.

  22. CrashCourse, You have a mistake in the intro facts. The most expensive seats in Elizabethan theatre were on the sides, in the galleries, and closest to the stage, not farthest. The theatre was still mostly an audio medium then and the richest wanted to be closest to the stage, so they could hear everything.

  23. Reannisance…is basically a collection of Muslim advancements in golden age + Protestant Reformation influenced by Islam as Muslims continued advancing to the point they took over Constantinople and finished the Byzantine empire once and for all.

  24. So fans weren't just a fashion accessory, they were vital parts of being in a hot theater? The more you know, the better you appreciate.βœ¨πŸ˜ƒ

  25. The first play I was ever in was a short production of A Servant of Two Masters. It was for a school play competition and I was just 13. I was Lombardi, 'il dottore'. It was hard work learning all of these ridiculous Latin terms and trying to play a man, but it was my first introduction to theatre and I absolutely loved it. The play itself turned out to be a hot mess- hardly anyone knew their lines, people walked off stage with key props without setting up the next scene, and it took far, far too long. The acting was very poor, and the only competent actor among us had to improvise most of the play to make its convoluted plot make some sort of sense- as others had forgotten to! Despite the play's painful failings, it was my first real experience of the stage and it was wonderful. It will always hold a special place in my heart, and I recommend it to anyone!

  26. You guys use so many good quotes but you never cite who they are by. Which makes it very difficult for further research. Where is the 'vale of tears that might lead to heaven' quote from? xx

  27. Few scholars today would defend the idea the commedia dell'arte came from the Atellan farces, there is virtually no evdience they did. (And the scraps which do exist are thin linguistic connections such as sannio-zanni.) They are more likely to have come from medieval mimes.

  28. If only this video had less cuteness and more content. The dumbing down of America continues–aided by PBS, no less (you don't want to know what's going on over at Fox.)

  29. I NEED TO VENT. IF YOUR GONNA SAY SOMETHING IN ITALIAN AND THAT IS OLD FROM THE RENAISSANCE LEARN HOW TO PRONOUNCE THE WORDS FIRST. It's just cause I'm Italian and I know how to say these words, when people say it wrong it just annoys me

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