Last Laugh


The story goes, Richard Burbage, arguably the finest English-speaking actor ever,* Shakespeare’s leading man in the Lord Chamberlain’s company, attracted many female admirers. His most popular role was Richard III, one of the most performed of Shakespeare’s plays during his lifetime.

Burbage’s longtime friend, Will Shakespeare, liked to play pranks on him. When Will heard that Burbage had arranged an assignation with a young woman, Shakespeare hurried to her house and tumbled into bed with the lady first. A few minutes later, Burbage arrived, and knocked on the woman’s door, announcing that Richard III had come. But in reply, Burbage heard a male voice on the other side of the door say, “Tell him, William the Conqueror comes before Richard the Third!”

*There’s a nice subject for a future post

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