I noticed that someone dropped in on my blog site after googling the following: Funny skits about the Roman Empire. One place to go to if you are looking for such entertainment is the 70s TV show: UP POMPEII. No, you would not find this on commercial American television, for it was far too bawdy, but it was right in keeping with the tradition of ancient Roman theater. Believe it or not, it used to be on American Public Television usually running late at night. It was a good show starring Frankie Howerd (correct spelling). He played the part of Lurcio (prononced LURK-IO). Now what you got to remember many Roman names had meanings, so a common joke is to give characters names that reflect their character. “A slave that lurks…thus LURK-IO” get it? He is owned by a master named Ludicrus Sextus (I suppose having sex with him would be ludicrous?) and a daughter named Erotica (who can’t get enough?). And you can’t forget the son Nausius (another way to say nauscious?) who is in a continual state of virginity. I think by now you caught on. If you wonder what kind of show it was, it was probably right in line with the tradition of Roman Comedy. There were lots of double entendres and many risque gags. What influenced this show were the plays of Plautus for one thing, and during the 70s there was a hit broadway musical and film: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254-184 B.C.) Writer of comedy, wrote bawdy and swift moving plots. His plays were vulgar in the attempt to appeal to the uneducated classes. Shakespeare borrowed his plot from the play THE TWIN BROTHERS for his comedy A COMEDY OF ERRORS. The 70s stage musical and movie A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM was also based on his works.
Up Pompeii was made into a movie. Below is the opening credits. It is not high brow stuff, but why would you want your comedy to be high brow when you can have scantily clad women, and off color jokes. If you don’t approve of such things, that’s OK! The action of the TV show all took place in a town that would meet its fate soon enough at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Divine justice, right?