|The Toast illustrated my piece with a still from the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern film, but this is my blog so I'm illustrating it with a picture of Rufus Sewell as the original Septimus Hodge. You're welcome.|
For The Toast's famed How To Tell If You're In a Novel series, I wrote and submitted How To Tell If You Are In a Tom Stoppard Play.
The piece begins:
You have devoted your life to translating Ovid, but your guilty pleasure is ‘60s bubblegum pop.
You are a young woman who’s not shy about displaying her intellectual gifts or her perky breasts.
Thinking of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, you burst into tears.And continues with many more items of Stoppard-related literary criticism in the guise of silly jokes.
This piece is, I believe, the first thing I've ever written for the Internet that I'm getting paid for, and I couldn't be more thrilled to have that happen with a bunch of Tom Stoppard jokes. I also think I talk more about sex here than I customarily do, and again, I'm amused that this is what it takes to get me to write about sex.
The piece also seems to have found its audience -- closing in on 3,000 social media hits as I write this -- which is so flattering and gratifying. I love that so many of the people who've shared this piece said something like "I always knew I was a Stoppard character" -- I've always intended that as the subtext of the piece: if you love Stoppard's work, if you think these jokes are funny, you're probably a lot like a Stoppard character yourself.
All of the Toast's commenters have been lovely and smart and supportive too -- if only the whole world could be like the Toast's comments section! I'm especially pleased that the "bad Czechs" joke is getting so much love, because it's the last item I added to the piece, after a late night of drinking hot toddies and thumbing through my Collected Works of Stoppard. (After I submitted the first draft, the editor asked me to make it longer, and I feared I didn't have any more good jokes left in me.) And to the person who commented "Somehow this is both a devastating skewering of Stoppard's tropes and a heartening reminder of his genius" -- yep. That's what I was aiming for, and I'm so glad I may have hit the target.
- All of the How To Tell If You're In a Novel entries are pretty fab, but the one that has made me giggle like no other is How To Tell If You are In a Logic Puzzle, by Diana Walter
- If you like my Stoppard jokes, you might also like my essay from two years ago about my decade-long crush on Septimus Hodge and seeing Arcadia for the first time after years of anticipation. Or browse the Stoppard tag on my blog.