Greetings my budding Brandos, my nascent Oliviers, my fetal Baxter-Birneys. Greetings and welcome to Classical Modes of Theater. In this class you will learn of our grand theatrical past, from puppetry and mime, to tumbling and acrobatics, to oiled, naked, pagan fertility rituals -- the recreation of which, by the way, can be attempted for extra credit, provided that I am present and allowed to videotape, for liability reasons. Those among you who would describe yourself as "nubile" can sign up on the sheet by the door on the way out.
But today, dear junior thespians, we will be examining the 16th century Italian comedic tradition -- perhaps the pinnacle of theatrical comedy, my ducklings. For it was then that traveling troupes of comedians developed the semi-improvised form known as Commedia dell'Fart.
Do not laugh! PHILISTINES! NAY-SAYERS! UNWILLING NUBILES! Commedia dell'Fart is serious business, and a solemn trust. Skilled players trained for years, honing their archetypal characters, so that they might best elicit laughter through the precise deployment of farts and fart-like expellations. They were the most respected of the great gas-based comedy traditions of Europe.
And any examination of their craft must necessarily begin with an explication of those archetypes. You see, each member of the troupe had their specialty -- their very own stock character, which would interact with the others in the troupe, following certain basic story outlines, but always leaving room for the off-the-cuff explorations of individual fartists' fartistry. Thus, I shall list the primary characters:
Fartecchino, or the Fartlequin -- The merry jokester of the group, he is distinguished both by the traditional diamond pattern on his jester's suit, and the diamond-shaped puffs of smoke he blows with his anus. He often wears an "Infartnito," or butt-mask. Upon this oversized pair of novelty buttocks, are placed several warts, painted with vibrant colors. When pierced, these faux warts erupted with stage pus (most often surplus cannoli filling) and expelled tiny puffs of gas, creating musical mini-farts. When ruptured in the proper order, they would play a song -- usually something by Scarlatti, or Avril Lavigne's song "Girlfriend" (in modern performances).
Il Capootano -- The boldest of the fartistes, distinguished by the unusual strength of his farts, he appears in military dress and provides the traditional denoument of a Commedia dell'Fart scenario: the defeat of the villian by way of a live cannon round discharged from between his cheeks. Also, should a member of the troupe die, it is he who is responsible for the traditional 21-fart salute.
The Fartamore -- These are the lovers, distinguished as such by the delicacy and length of their emissions. While initially at odds with one another ("Il suo obiettivo fa un rumore tremendo che dà me uno mal di testa" is a traditional Commedia cry, meaning "The noise of your ass gives me a migraine") they learn to love one another when they discover that, while their odors are terrible apart, when their farts mingle they create a pleasant miasma smelling of lemon curd, fresh-baked bread, and orchids.
Pantalone -- Literally "pants." Ironically named because he wears none, for the length of the play. Oh, how amusing it is to see his genitals swing about, blown aloft by the gust eminating from between...
WHAT! WHAT IS THIS? UNHAND ME!
What leads you to manhandle me so, ruffian?
You say that I have no formal training in the history of theater? You claim that I am not a professor, and that this school, far from being an accredited institution is the boiler room of the sports stadium where my mother plays the organ? You go on to say that I have several restraining orders against me, filed by nubile young pagans?
Well, yes... those claims are true in the broad strokes, but isn't life shades of grey? Isn't...
AUGH! MY BUTTOCKS! I HAVE NEVER RECIEVED SUCH A KICKING! AND ALL BECAUSE I MADE UP AN OFF-COLOR ITALIAN THEATER TRADITION! BECAUSE... BECAUSE...
I NEVER LEARNED TO FART.
[At this point the author looks at what he has written, and realizes he's wasted his life.]