Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Famous Last Nerds = Rapping-Reduced Shakespeare Company?

Initially run on MTV's short-lived sketch comedy "Scratch & Burn," the throwaway setup to "One Minute Hamlet" involves MTV purchasing PBS and demanding a short - attention - span - safe performance of Hamlet. Don't expect much more societal commentary than that, though. For better or worse, "One Minute Hamlet" is all about acting a fool for the sake of a laugh.

Co-writer Jordan Allen-Dutton starts off as fake-English-accented Hamlet mixing up Acts I and III: "Seems? Nay it is; I know not seems / To wake or to sleep — perchance to dream?" He's followed by co-writer Erik Weiner as a fake-New York-accented Marcellus introducing Claudius (composer J.A.Q) and Gertrude (J.A.Q's brother GQ in drag) getting busy on the grave of King Hamlet (Weiner in a suspiciously quick change). This all takes 20 seconds. Between puppets of the “Mouse-trap” players, a Polonius dummy, and unnamed nuns, over the next 100 seconds — “One Minute Hamlet” actually runs 2 minutes — those 4 actors play 16 characters, most of whom end up dead.

For those of us more familiar with “The Lion King” than Hamlet, the story is ridiculous enough that we won’t notice the liberties Allen-Dutton and Weiner take with it. We won’t know who Fortinbras is, let alone appreciate that they replaced “rest” with “ditch” so “May flights of angels sing thee to thy ditch” rhymes with “I’m Fortinbras of Norway, taking over this b*tch.” At the same time, Shakespeare sticklers will be bothered that Hamlet is portrayed killing Rosencrantz & Guildenstern personally, or that Laertes leaps in to remove Hamlet from Opehlia’s grave rather than the other way around. Only the biggest Ophelia-philes will like the line “Hey nonny-nonny and a nonny-nonny-hey / Gather round everybody for a play within a play” as more than lyrical filler.

Still, these faults appear only upon inspection. Like Allen-Dutton and Weiner’s subsequent work on “Robot Chicken,” “One Minute Hamlet” is too short to grate, but does great things.[1]

[1] Look, I'll never said I was Zachary Pincus-Roth, okay? p_^;