Ridi, Pagliacci!- But, Homey Don’t Play That

Seasons Of Tumult And Discord brings us a little culture, with the opera “Pagliacci”-

http://seasonsoftumultanddiscord.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/musical-interlude-pagliacci/

And here’s a direct link to the video, but without the translation-

Alkibiades is mainly interested in the musical aspect, but I was struck by the pathos of the situation. I had heard of this song before- and you probably have too, since Smokey Robinson refers to it in the old Motown hit “Tears of a Clown.” The title character is a clown in a comedy troupe, and he has learned, just before a performance, that his wife is cheating on him. Still he must put on his clown costume, put on his makeup, and go out and be funny and make people laugh. “Ridi, (laugh) Pagliacci!” he tells himself. The audience has paid money and wants to laugh. He must laugh, even if one of the skits involves another clown stealing his wife. He must laugh, so the audience will laugh.

Self-awareness is a terrible burden. There are people who don’t have it- their inside is their outside, and they don’t edit themselves for others. These people occasionally have a weird charisma, but usually they are inconsequential people in menial positions. The rest of us live in a world that couldn’t give a shit less about our tears and heartbreaks, and wants to see a pleasing exterior. Like I said about layers- one of the layers you need to have is a clown suit and makeup.

There is of course a limit to this. Extending the clown metaphor, you may remember the sketch comedy show “In Living Color” from the early 90’s. Damon Wayans had a character called Homey D. Clown. The joke was always the same- Homey would show up for a performance, then berate the audience for expecting him to engage in degrading antics for their amusement. His tagline was “Homey don’t play that!”

All the world’s a stage, a few of us are handsome leading men or beautiful leading ladies, a few are cold-eyed villains, but frankly most of us are clowns. Sometimes we’ll be Pagliacci, tragically covering the tears with laughter. But then sometimes we’ll be Homey D. Clown, and smack the fools upside the head, and let them know in uncertain terms “Homey don’t play that!”

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3 Responses to Ridi, Pagliacci!- But, Homey Don’t Play That

  1. Alkibiades says:

    actually, the pathos is very important to me.

  2. Clarence says:

    I really enjoyed this post.

    Very insightful. Bravo

  3. vasafaxa says:

    This is a depressing thought.

    But most of us don’t even have speaking roles, let alone that of the comic.

    Gotta love Pavarotti.

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