Rude Talk in Athens: Ancient Rivals, the Birth of Comedy, and a Writer's Journey through Greece
Mark Haskell Smith
In ancient Athens, thousands would attend theatre festivals that turned writing into a fierce battle for fame, money, and laughably large trophies. While the tragedies earned artistic respect, it was the comedies—the raunchy jokes, vulgar innuendo, outrageous invention, and barbed political commentary—that captured the imagination of the city.
Praise for Rude Talk in Athens: Ancient Rivals, the Birth of Comedy, and a Writer's Journey through Greece
"RUDE TALK IN ATHENS is brave, brilliant, and incredibly funny. There are loads of very specific characters, including Mark himself. It's the Mark Haskell Smith version of hanging out with Stanley Tucci and Anthony Bourdain, but in present day and ancient Greece. I agree with everything he says about comedy and have never read anything like it."
—Barry Sonnenfeld, Film Director and author of 'Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker'
"The most sophisticated book you’ll read about writers insulting people they hate... If there were mean girls living in Ancient Greece, I have no doubt Mark would have written a brilliant analysis of the shade they threw at each other and their historical impact."
—Al Madrigal, Comedian, Actor, former Daily Show Correspondent, and co-founder of the All Things Comedy podcast network
"RUDE TALK IN ATHENS is as political and punk, as chaotic and exuberant, as the city itself. Riotous and fun, Mark Haskell Smith's book really made me feel like being in Athens! "
—Dr. Emma Southon, author of 'A Fatal Thing Happened Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome'
"Smith takes an immersive and irreverent dip into ancient Greece to uncover the origins of transgressive humor. Mixing history, literary criticism, and dirty jokes, Smith pays tribute to a slew of forgotten Greek writers... This erudite but refreshingly nonacademic work will feed the intellect as well as tickle the funny bone."
"Entertaining and informed, "Rude Talk in Athens" is a dispatch from Greece with much to discuss."
"A hilarious romp disguised as an earnest history lesson, or vice versa. Smith might be even funnier than the dead Greek playwrights he brings to life."
—Jamie Brisick, author of "Becoming Westerly"
"A racy, raunchy, entertaining reimagining of ancient Greece."
"Great read fun stuff I highly recommend it a must have."
—Erik Griffin, comedian and actor
"Mark Haskell Smith, in this splendidly (and authentically) foul-mouthed tour of Athens in the 5th century BC, reminds us that if you want to learn the truth, follow the laughter."
—Michael Bywater, author, broadcaster, and culture critic
"Smith is a delightfully funny writer yet also modest and self-deprecating—the smartest guy in the room who waves off compliments about his intelligence. 'Rude Talk in Athens' is fascinating, bizarre, and refreshingly optimistic, a plea for openness and selflessness in a society that has become proud of its own callousness."
—Michael Schaub, ALTA Journal
"Reading 'Rude Talk in Athens' is like taking an epic tour of Greek drama and politics with an irreverent expert in the driver’s seat. Smith [speaks] about fame, the political power of comedy, and why oral sex is tantamount to revolution."
—Tobias Carroll, Los Angeles Times