Roast Mortem

Ladies, gentlemen, demons...  I give you all welcome to tonight’s roast of Hamlet, late Prince of Denmark—and what better place for a roast than in Hell? Many thanks to His Lordship of the Flies for the accommodations and use of the facilities.

 

If you don’t know me, I’m Horatio, childhood friend to our guest of honor, and, in his own words: “e’en as just a man 
as e’er his conversation coped withal.” Talk about damning a guy with faint praise! But when the ghost of Hamlet’s father asked me to host this tribute to the rogue and peasant slave we all know and love, I accepted in a heartbeat. Little did I know it would be my last heartbeat, because in order to be here I had to die first. Fortunately, King Claudius was still able to pull some strings, and by “pull strings,” I mean “have me murdered.” I admit that I was starting to miss all of you in the land of the living. Also, when this show is over, I get to go to Heaven. I’ll miss you all... but now it’s time to turn up the heat even higher!

 

Queen Gertrude, you’re looking beautiful, as always. Can I get you a drink? No, not falling for that again? I’ve got to ask, Your Highness: Was it at all weird being married to the brother of your first husband? Did you ever find yourself comparing their... you know, scepters? Did you ever forget that your original husband died and you remarried o’erhastily? Would you wake up confused in the morning? Not that you’d know much about mourning....

 

And Ophelia, Hamlet’s girlfriend is here. Be sure to laugh at her jokes, people, because she doesn’t take rejection very well at all. Ophelia, do you remember when both your brother and your father warned you about Hamlet? And then it turned out that they were right? Awkward! And then, after remarking about a noble mind being o’erthrown, you o’erthrew yourself into a river? You might not even know this, but at your funeral, Hamlet picked a fight with your brother in your open grave. Hamlet claimed to have loved you more than forty thousand brothers ever could. Can you even imagine having forty thousand brothers? Not that it would matter, of course, because Hamlet would probably kill them all!

 

And speaking of brothers of Ophelia that Hamlet killed, with us tonight is Laertes, Ophelia’s actual brother, whom Hamlet killed. Not that he didn’t have his revenge, though, am I right? Hey, when you learned of your father’s death, you were in France. You came back to Denmark to storm the castle, thinking that King Claudius had killed your dad. But why would he have done that? I mean, you didn’t even have a mother he could marry! I kid, I kid!

 

Who’s that hiding behind an arras? Yes: It’s that tedious old fool Polonius! Polonius, you’ve been described as a windbag, a foolish prating knave, and a busy-body. You’ve been called officious, garrulous, and impertinent. Come on out, then, and to thine own self be true. You can’t make things much worse in this place.

 

Hamlet’s excellent good friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are here! Where else would they be, though? At the University of Wittenberg? Before you were executed, did you guys do the homework for our anatomy lab? Five hundred words on what a piece of work is a man? You guys don’t mind sharing a chair, right?

 

And finally, what would a roast of Hamlet be without the skull of Yorick? Everybody else here tonight was stabbed, poisoned, or drowned, but this guy died of the most unlikely thing of all in Denmark: old age. Believe it or not, this bonehead has the most important part in tonight’s show: None of the roasters can talk if someone else is holding the skull....

 

So let’s get this party started, yeah? Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure and twice as much pity and fear to present a man who comes most carefully upon the hour... Prince Hamlet!

 

Matthew David Brozik asks not why the drum comes hither; it comes for him. Read more at imdb.name.

 

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

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