Hapless old Nick

Inspired by Shardul's brilliant history lesson joke (it's ten times funnier when you say it out loud), I'll relate one of my own, which was told to me with a claim of being a true story (just like Shardul's, no doubt). Eighty-odd years ago, there was a production of Goethe's Faust taking place in our national theatre, the Abbey Theatre. The story we all know: Mr Faust sells his soul to the devil in return for attaining the peak of human happiness, and then payback time comes.

The stage designers came up with the idea of cutting a hole in the stage floor, and hoisting Old Nick up through the floor via a pully, giving the audience the impression he was ascending from Hell in a blaze of smoke and sparks. Well, opening night came and Nick (Mephistopheles, I believe he's called in the play, but Nick will do) manages his entrance impressively enough - plenty of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the audience. He gets straight down to the hard sell with Dr. Faust, gets the signature on the dotted line (in blood, of course), and spends most of the play up there having a grand old time with Faust.

Then there is a point where Faust, realizing he has nothing to tame but nature itself, realises he is experiencing that blisss he sought to attain. He promptly expires on the spot, and Nick the repossession man moves in for Faust's soul. For the benefit of the audience, the actor Faust (who is now playing a soul) has to get up and accompany Nick to the pulley so they can both go down together. A blaze of smoke and sparks as the two make thir descent, but they barely go down two feet when the pulley gets stuck! Wait for a couple of seconds; the pully still won't budge. Poor Old Nick, with only half of him visible, starts jumping up and down on the floor trying to get the forsaken thing to move.

All of a sudden, one of the audience jumps onto his chair, fists clenched in the air, and roars:


Related Links

Some YouTube videos; they're only related because theyre funny:

This is one John-Paul suggested: German coastguard video

which made me think of this video , also with a naval theme