Cultural references in The Underpants: We looked them up so you don’t have to

Steve Martin in the middle of his comedy routine
Steve Martin in the middle of his comedy routine

Steve Martin is a smart guy. Everyone knows it. He writes books and plays. He acts in movies. He’s very clever on Twitter (seriously, here is the link; he’s hilarious https://twitter.com/stevemartintogo) He dances around with arrows on his head (not anymore, he smartened up!) he is also an inveterate intellectual name dropper. Littered through The Underpants are references to writers, classical fictional characters, philosophers, mathematicians. You name it, Martin throws it in there. Since we figured someone at LWT should look these names up at some point, here is a partial list that took minutes of research. We do the work so you don’t have to.

Schiller used to write scathing poems about his critics. Take that.
Schiller used to write scathing poems about his critics. Take that.

Schiller – Friedrich Schiller was an 18th century poet, playwright, philosopher, and doctor, who also happened to be best buds with Goethe. The duo was angry at the state of criticism in Germany and wrote a series of scathing poems about it (a strategy LWT might deploy the next time we get reviews we don’t like). Considered Germany’s most important dramatist, he once skipped out on his duties as an army regimental doctor to go to an opening night, proving that taking the train from New York to New Haven really isn’t that bad.

Don Juan, the go to character when writers for the past 400 years have been stumped
Don Juan, the go to character when writers for the past 400 years have been stumped

Don Juan – a fictional man about town, good with the ladies, tough in a brawl, a gambler and all around roustabout. Think James Bond without the spying. His story has been retold hundreds of times from the early 17th century to the present day. I know the guy was supposedly smooth, but that’s a bit much.

Press photos of the first Tristan and Isolde, Ludwig and Malwine Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Press photos of the first Tristan and Isolde, Ludwig and Malwine Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Tristan and Isolde – An opera written by the German Richard Wagner, one known for its influence on 20th century music. And because Wagner wrote it because he was inspired by a woman not his wife. And because the lead tenor playing Tristan, Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, croaked after singing the role only four times. Too much stress they said (really it was a combination of rheumatism and his excessive weight).

This isn't real
This isn’t real

The Loch Ness Monster – We at LWT would love to think it’s real. Just because that’s pretty fun to do.

Part Two: Nietzsche, Freud, Descartes and Rudolph Valentino (basically all the stuff you didn’t read in college, except for Valentino.)

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