main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Mamet Speak
Moss: No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him about this... [pause]
Aaronow: Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just...
Moss: No, we're just...
Aaronow: We're just "talking" about it.
Moss: We're just speaking about it. [pause] As an idea.
Aaronow: As an idea.
Moss: Yes.
Aaronow: We're not actually talking about it.
Moss: No.
Aaronow: Talking about it as a...
Moss: No.
Aaronow: As a robbery.
Moss: As a "robbery"? No.

American writer David Mamet is probably most famous for his distinctive style of writing fast, clever, edgy dialogue. When a playwright wins a Pulitzer Prize, his style does not often go without imitation. Mamet's often-imitated dialogue style is called Mamet Speak.

Mamet Speak has the following qualities:
  • It is fast. Characters speak in quick succession, frequently cutting each other off, finishing each other's sentences, and repeating themselves whilst the other speaks.
  • It is frequently focused on semantics. Mamet's characters are known for manipulating language itself to get what they want, or at least discussing the importance of their particular language.
  • It is almost always "vulgar". In keeping with Mamet's general domain of tough-talking characters, Cluster F-Bomb is the name of the game. (Roger Ebert once titled a Movie Glossary entry the "Mamet Dammit" while noting that the swears in question usually weren't that mild.)

Compare Rapid Fire Interrupting, where the interrupting is one-sided. Also related to World of Snark.


  • Brian Michael Bendis does this in his works, some even call him the "Mamet of Comics". He variously refers to Mamet as his god, his hero and his go-to source of inspiration.

  • Quentin Tarantino has listed David Mamet as one of the key inspirations for his own style of dialogue.
  • Iron Man 2 ramped this up immensely from the first one, in that other characters aside from Tony Stark started doing it.
  • Some of the dialogue in Primer is like this, with characters talking over each other and answering with quick, short lines.
  • 40's film director Howard Hawks favored a style of dialog similar to Mamet's, especially in terms of speed and overlap. He had to do without the cussing, of course.
  • Possibly referenced in a couple lines of dialogue from The Toxic Avenger 2, of all places:
    Apocalypse Inc. Chairman: "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be"... Shakespeare.
    Homeless Woman: "Fuck You"... David Mamet.

Live-Action TV

New Media
  • A delicious send-up of a possible dialogue from the upcoming Anne Frank movie is here.

  • Naturally, the works of David Mamet himself.
  • Joyce Carol Oates' Tone Clusters, while scant on the swearing, contains a great deal of the Gulicks rapidly talking over one another at great length, and constantly repeating one another.
  • The first scene between Roy and Joe in Angels In America contains a lot of this, with Joe's attempts to get a word in edgewise between Roy's onslaughts of speech.
  • Neil La Bute uses a lot of this, particularly in reasons to be pretty and In a Dark, Dark House.

Web Original
  • Each episode being only a few minutes long at most, Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'? is rife with constant dialogue back and forths, snappy sentences and a fair amount of cursing.

Real Life
Magical Foreign WordsLanguage TropesMicrots
Irrelevant Act OpenerTheaterMassive Multiplayer Ensemble Number
Malicious SlanderDialogueMangled Catch Phrase

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy