Can I be honest, I think if we went back in time and told that “MYRRH-DER” “*gasp* Judas! No!” joke to a group of medieval peasants they would completely and utterly lose their shit. They would be grabbing each other and crying with laughter. idk I just love the thought of a joke created through a modern, 21st century medium being accessible and enjoyable for devout practising Catholics hundreds of years ago

You’d be burned as a heretic, but sure, imagine they’d laugh.

No, you really wouldn’t.

When I wrote this post I specifically had in mind the liturgical plays enjoyed by medieval folks, especially from the 14th century onwards. These plays were once performed at liturgies, in Latin, under the direction of the priest or bishop, but later became plays that were enjoyed on the village green, recited in English, and performed and produced by players. Gradually, more and more comedic and farcical elements crept into the plays, because that’s what audiences loved and demanded.

They would tell the lives of saints and Bible stories such as the Fall of Man, Noah’s Ark and the Nativity. Because plays were enjoyed at carnivals and because religious spirit and merrymaking aren’t incompatible, certain characters became humorous and stereotyped. For example, Noah’s wife was a shrew who would smack her husband to get him into the ark, Herod was a ludicrous, blustering tyrant and poor old Joseph was particularly derided and used as comic relief, especially in the Nativity plays. Apparently, being cuckolded by God was not the way to appeal to a medieval man, though he would gain respect after the Reformation.

In the context that medieval peasants watched and loved ribald and slightly irreverent liturgical plays, something that would later evolve into the English stage as we know it in Shakespeare, it is entirely accurate and harmless to think that during a Nativity play the last wise man might say “I bring thee myrr…” and after Jospeh has thanked him, he would unmask to reveal his red hair (sorry guys Judas was ginger) and exclaim “MYRR-DRE!” causing Joseph to gasp and cry “JUDAS!! NAY!!” and probably trip over himself falling backwards, to the unparalleled surprise and delight of the devout medieval peasants who, guess what, still have a damn sense of humour.

i read some medieval mystery plays this semester. there’s one where mary, having pregnancy cravings, is like “oh, husband, won’t you go get me some cherries from that tree there?”

and joseph basically says “eh, that tree is really tall and I don’t want to. how about you ask the guy that got you knocked up to get you the cherries?”

and the tree ~miraculously bends down~~ so she can eat them

and joseph is like “well shit”