Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Trevor Noah and Shakespeare

Trevor Noah: African American. Dir. Ryan Polito. Perf. Trevor Noah. DVD. Inception Media Group, 2013.

At the 2017 Shakespeare Association of America Convention in Atlanta, I was in a seminar called "Global Othello." My own paper was on Janet Suzman's production of Othello—the one made in South Africa under Apartheid (for which, q.v.).

On the plane on the way down, I decided to try the comedy stylings of Trevor Noah, whom I learned about on an NPR broadcast the previous week. Trevor Noah was born in South Africa in 1984; his mother was white, and his father was black. He writes about feeling illegal at a child in Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

I knew there was a connection to South Africa, but I didn't expect an additional connection to Shakespeare.

In the DVD, Noah's routine is all about navigating being black in America. At one point, he starts talking about African-American language use—and he ends up with Shakespeare.  Here's that section.  Note: Some of the language here is NWFW, depending, of course, on where you W.

Trevor Noah and Shakespeare both seem to admire and employ interesting language use.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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