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Western Animation / A Ham in a Role

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He really is a ham.

"A Ham in a Role" is a 1949 Looney Tunes cartoon short, directed by Robert McKimson (though it was initially planned by Art Davis before his animation unit was disbanded due to budget issues) and starring Mac and Tosh, the "Goofy Gophers".

An unnamed dog is on the Warner Bros. lot, filming yet another silly Looney Tunes cartoon. After taking one too many pies to the face he quits in disgust, resolving to go home and study Shakespeare so he can be a serious actor. He comes home to find the Goofy Gophers have gnawed through most of his book of Shakespeare and turned it into a bed. After the dog throws them out the window, the gophers vow revenge. The dog starts rehearsing lines from Shakespeare, but the gophers continually interfere with his rehearsal by making the lines come to life through ironic sight gags and literal visual puns.

"A Ham in a Role" provides examples of:

  • Animated Actors: The cartoon starts with the dog filming a Looney Tunes short. He is revealed to be an Animated Actor who quits in a huff and goes home.
  • Batty Lip Burbling: The dog at the end after getting hit in the face with a pie while reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy.
    Dog: To be or not to... [Splat!] ...b-b-b-b.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The gophers have a horse ready to kick the dog all the way back to the studio, just as he recites, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"
  • Book Ends: The short starts and ends with the dog getting his by a Pie in the Face and doing the Batty Lip Burbling.
  • Book Safe: An unusual case in which the gophers are themselves sleeping in a book.
  • Cartoon Cheese: The gophers dump stinky Limburger cheese on the dog as he's reciting the "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" line from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: The dog quits his job making silly cartoons to go study Shakespeare.
  • Dem Bones: One of the gophers wears a glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume to spook the dog.
  • The End: The "That's All, Folks!" card appears just a few seconds in. The cartoon isn't really ending, it's just the Show Within a Show.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: The gophers use magnets to make the dog, who is wearing a suit of armor, slam against the ceiling and floor.
  • In One Ear, Out The Other: The dog has been hit with so many pies they are literally coming out of his ears.
  • Large Ham: It's in the title! The dog is, in fact, super-hammy when reciting Shakespeare.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: By a horse, in fact—the horse kicks the dog right back into the Warner Brothers lot. The dog then gives up and goes back to work.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Meta example; the Spanish dub mistranslates "wherefore" as "donde" ("where"; correct is "por qué", as "wherefore" means "why", meaning that Juliet's line of "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" is her lamenting why the love of her life is a member of a rival family).
  • Overly Polite Pals: The gophers, as usual.
  • Pie in the Face: Opens with the dog getting a pie in the face, only to quit in disgust. At cartoon's end, he is given a choice part where he begins Hamlet's soliloquy... and gets a pie in the face.
  • Referenced by...: William Shakespeare: The dog even has a portrait of Shakespeare on his wall! Over the course of the cartoon the dog recites from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, and Julius Caesar.
  • Show Within a Show: The dog is filming a cartoon where he takes a Pie in the Face.