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Insult Backfire / Theatre

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  • William Shakespeare did this with Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Note, however, that this is because Dogberry doesn't understand he's being insulted.
    Leonato: Neighbours, you are tedious.
    Dogberry: It pleases your worship to say so, but we are the poor duke's officers; but truly, for mine own part, if I were as tedious as a king, I could find it in my heart to bestow it all of your worship.
  • The Running Gag of Shakespeare's Falstaff was the fact he was a drunken, bawdy, cowardly, charismatic, corpulent thief/scoundrel/adventurer, and loved being one out loud.
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  • An indirect example: In The Miser, title character Harpagon wants his daughter, Elise to marry a much older man, because he'd take her without dowry. When Harpagon's steward, Valére, who's secrety in love with Elise, hears this, he comments: "When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and "without dowry" compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity." Harpagon takes it completely seriously.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac - At Act I Scene IV, Viscount De Valvert calls Cyrano Impoverished Patrician and poet. Given the Culture Clash between the french and the Gascon’s mindset, Cyrano doesn’t mind at all:
    Cyrano: Ay, poet, Sir! In proof of which,
    While we fence, presto! all extempore
    I will compose a ballade.
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  • Peter in the musical Babes In Arms does this when he's called a "communist." In fact, he is a communist.
    Peter: Thank you for the compliment. Property is theft. We should place everything we have in a communal fund.
  • In the "God in Mahagonny" scene of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, God condemnds the inhabitants of Mahagonny and tells them to go to Hell. They reply that Hell is where they are and have been all the time.
  • One Touch of Venus:
    Gloria: You led Rodney on! He never had any nerve until you showed up!
    Venus: Why, that's the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.
  • Carousel:
    Snow: In my opinion, sir, you are as scurvy a hunk o' scum as I ever see near the water's edge at low tide!
    Jigger (turning his profile to Snow): The same—side view!


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