by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
May 6, 2007
A FLAIR FOR THE DRAMATIC
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- We have a boring way of speaking in the 21st Century. We don't speak with enough drama. We need more verve, more panache. We need more of that over-the-top Shakespearean way of speaking. Hollering "Get thee to a nunnery!" at the top of our lungs, the way Hamlet bellowed at Ophelia when he finally got tired of looking at her.
You can find modern-day examples of this type of ham-handed overacting in the old "Batman" tv show, when Batman would holler "To the Batcave!" to his sidekick, and the duo would race off to their secret lair, readying to do battle with yet another super villain. "To the Batcave" was more than just an order. It was a lofty command that had weight. It wasn't just a place to change into one's tights and cape. It was a declaration that serious things were afoot.
You can also find these over-dramatic speeches on new radio dramas, like Decoder Ring Theatre's Red Panda.
"He'll soon face the masked fury of... The Red Panda!" proclaims Canada's greatest superhero.
"And The Flying Squirrel!" squeaks his trusty sidekick.
Listening to these lines, you're instantly transported back to a time when superheroes could talk like this without getting laughed at. The citizens, the police, and even the villains had already accepted masked heroes wearing tights, so they learned to accept this as well. They knew the heroes could back up their theatrical histrionics with physical violence, so if they thought it was funny, they kept it to themselves.
How cool would it be if we could announce ourselves like old-time superheroes?
"This lawn is too long, and it isn't going to mow itself. It will soon face the motorized wrath of... Erik Deckers!"
"Wherever there's a room full of hungry people, people who need nourishing food at a fair price, I'll be there. So swears... the Pizza Hut Manager!"
Sadly, we're overwhelmed with linguistic lethargy these days, lethargy that only overdramatic speaking can banish. Modern speech is so boring and bleak. Nobody speaks the way they did 50 years ago, let alone the way they did in Shakespearean times. But think of how interesting the world would be if we did.
Sentences like "Ho there, coffee maiden! I require a half-decaf latte forthwith! With sprinkles!" and "Zounds! Tax time fast approacheth. To the accountants!" would pepper our daily language. But no, we're stuck with our same old mundane way of speaking.
"Hey, how's it going? Where're you headed?" your friend asks, just like he does every single day.
"Oh, I'm just going to the store. I'm feeling a little down," you mope.
"Sounds like you need a pick-me-up," he blathers.
Pretty boring, huh? Not much excitement there. No wonder you're feeling down. Your friend is a verbal dud, and you're just one point-and-grunt from communicating with apes. So how would that conversation sound if you both spoke in overdramatic style?
"What ho, old friend? Why, pray-tell, do you carry a long face?"
"I journey to the market, as my heart is laden with melancholy."
"Forsooth! This sounds like a job for... ice cream!"
I've often said that the world needs more swashbuckling pirate outfits and swords hanging at their sides. Add overdramatic language to the mix, and society will look a whole lot more interesting. Imagine how ordering food at a restaurant would sound. Or calling across a crowded room to a friend. Think of how civilized you would sound shouting at a driver who cuts you off.
"Thou churlish swag-bellied clotpole!"
And imagine how easily neighborly disputes could be settled, rather than letting $300-an-hour lawyers in expensive suits handle it.
"Foul knave, thy dog has crapped on my lawn for the last time. I challenge you to a duel!"
"Prithee, hold a moment. I left my sword on mine workbench."
"No problem. I just need to buckle my swash."
"Loser buys a flagon of ale, agreed?"
But getting people to change is an uphill battle. People are extremely set in their ways. It's easier to adopt the latest street language than it is to adopt the old style and start your own trend. (Of course, a 52-year-old white suburbanite talking about the new "bling" her husband bought will pretty much ruin that word.)
But I shall be unswayed from my position. I will advocate the everyday usage of flowery , sonorous language in my daily conversations. In the meantime, I have other matters to which I must attend...
To the bathroom!
Editor's Note: Erik tells us his inspiration for this column was the adventures displayed at www.decorderringtheatre.com.