Your RDA of Irony

Prussian Wit Is Not Always an Oxymoron

Today is the birthday of Frederick the Great! Genius is rare in royalty; in Prussian royalty it is extraordinary. Frederick was unique: imagine Oscar Wilde with an army. The politics of 18th century was based upon whom his scathing wit had offended. France and Austria had been enemies for 250 years. Frederick brought them together. He had ridiculed Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV, for being an overreaching strumpet. Lest you think that Frederick was a self-righteous prig, he taunted the respectable Maria Theresa for her piety and fertility. Austrian empresses do not enjoy being described as broodmares. (Frederick had no empathy with heterosexual activities.) The strumpet and the broodmare overcame their incongruity and formed an alliance. This coalition was joined by Russia; theTsarina Elisabeth had not appreciated Frederick’s quips about her girth.

France, Austria and Russia planned the Seven Years War to be a going-away party for Frederick. Here is my dramatization of that conflict….

FinermanWorks presents: The Seven Years War

based on a farce performed on Frederick the Great


Frederick the Great, by his own assessment.

George II, a very German King of England. He is Frederick’s uncle but nothing like him.

Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV and the real ruler of France

Maria Therese, a nice conservative hausfrau–whose haus happens to be the Austrian Empire

Tsarina Elisabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. She inherited his realm and his size.

Peter III, Elisabeth’s very strange great-nephew and successor.

George III, a king of England who finally sounds like one.

(George II and his nephew Frederick are walking down a street.)

Frederick: You actually like Handel? I knew England would ruin your appetite but your hearing too? Still I suppose I would trade places with you. You have non idee how much I hate the sound of German.

George II: But that’s wat ve sprech un London.  Ja, Parlamunt ist un Anglische; but I nod to vatever.  It werks.

Frederick: You may be spoiling them.

(The men are suddenly confronted by Tsarina Elisabeth, Empress Maria Therese of Austria and Madame de Pompadour.)

Frederick: Are you three planning to proclaim my uncle the King of Scotland? He already is.

Pompadour: I am sure that you would rather be Queen of France.

Frederick: At least, Madame Fishmonger, with me at Versailles someone could think in French as well as speak it.  You reflect only in the Hall of Mirrors.

Elisabeth: You are a mean little man.

Frederick: Certainly half your size.

Maria Therese: You are a sacrilegious swine.

Frederick: You confuse my contempt for you with sacrilege. There is a considerable difference. Actually, I rather appreciate your piety and take full advantage of it. “The Austrian army’s idea of military manuevers is to attend mass.” (Actual quote by Frederick)

Pompadour: Let’s see if my nails are as sharp as your tongue.

(She lashes out at Frederick; Elisabeth and Maria Therese join in the assault. George steps aside, keeping a respectful distance from Elisabeth and while making polite overtures to Maria Therese.

George II: How are der children? You are looking vell. I can’t help reminiscing about our old alliance against France.

(However, George does periodically lunge against Pompadour, slugging her in the back, grabbing her Indian jewelry, Canadian furs and purse. While Frederick is trying to fend off the assault, his uncle hands him some of Pompadour’s cash.)

George: Keep up der gut fight.

(Then Elisabeth manages to smash Frederick in the head, nearly knocking him out. However, the exertion also kills her. She is succeeded by her great nephew Peter III who has a big surprise.)

Peter: Oh, Frederick, what are those bitches doing to you! I’m switching sides.

George II: Excuse me, I have enjoyed dis immensely but I now must act mein age und die.

George III: I say, what, what. Jolly good war but I think that we should say cheerio.

Frederick: Frau Hapsburg, you’ve no more Russian army and I’ve no more English money. Shall we end this war?

Maria Therese: We’ll call it a draw.

Frederick: Since I am still breathing, I’d call it a victory.

  1. Mary Ann Jung says:

    Marveilleux! I wish Monty Python was still around to perform it. I’ve played Maria Theresa and she was the only woman with My hair color-blonde. I was thrilled to Not have to wear a wig! What an inspiring guy, that Frederick. He ranks right up there with General Winder before the Battle of Bladensburg who inspired the outnumbered, inexperienced American boys by telling them the best road to run away on. Huzzah!

  2. Mary Ann,

    Well, you might have the right hair color to play Frau Hapsburg but you’d have to wear about 14 accordions to illustrate that woman’s stretch marks. Sixteen children!

    Old Fritz once attempted to rally his troops by asking “Do you rascals expect to live forever?” Less than inspired, they continued to retreat; however, at least they didn’t kill him.

    You know I was wondering what actor today would be a good Frederick the Great? If we are adhering to historical accuracy, we’d have to cast a slight man. Vin Diesel just wouldn’t be right. I think that Jeremy Iron could convey the scathing brilliance.

    Any suggestions?


  3. Joan Stewart Smith says:

    Oh, Eugene, you should write for Horrible Histories (award-winning BBC1 children’s television series based on the Terry Deary book series of the same name)!

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Hello Joan,

      I would love to inflict my pedantics on millions of young minds: textual harassment. If only I had an agent…

      As for casting Frederick, Jeremy Iron is available. Olivier is not–although with computer graphics, he can be resurrected. In fact, it has already been done in one film with Jude Law. Actually, if we wait long enough, Jude Law might make a good Frederick.

  4. Ed bedermanthanks says:

    Ya Vol

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Frederick hated the sound of German, much preferring to be addressed in French. Even the sight of German annoyed him. Official documents had to be translated into French before being presented to the King. (Then the documents were translated back into German.)

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