George Bernard Shaw
Sarah Bernhardt: Mr. Shaw, you and I should make love, for with my looks and your brains we would have wonderful children.
—Sketch from The Mary Whitehouse Experience
George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was an Irish playwright, noted for his satirical wit.
His best-known plays include Pygmalion, Arms and the Man, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Man and Superman, The Devil's Disciple and Saint Joan. Arms and the Man inspired the operetta The Chocolate Soldier, and Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady.
Shaw is the first writer to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize in literature and an Academy Award, the latter for the screenplay of the 1938 film adaptation of Pygmalion. (Bob Dylan is the second, as of 2016.)
His will funded a contest to create a new non-Latin alphabet for the English language. Four of the winning entries were combined to create the Shavian alphabet, which first appeared in 1962 in a special edition of another Shaw play, Androcles and the Lion.
- Actually, I Am Him: In Caesar and Cleopatra, 16-year-old Cleopatra is hiding from the invading Romans, and she runs into a nice old man who turns out to be Caesar after she's said quite a few things she wouldn't have if she'd known, including repeating a rumour that Caesar has a nose as big as an elephant's.
- Author Filibuster: His socialist views (he was a prominent figure in the Fabian Society) sneak into many characters
- Dump Them All: In Mrs. Warren's Profession.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Grand Inquisitor Scene:
- In Saint Joan, the Inquisitor delivers a long and very convincing speech on the necessity of the Inquistion to a young friar who doubts Joan's heresy.
- The Roman Emperor in Androcles and the Lion, who asserts that he is actually a Christian evangelist -- since Christian martyrs inspire converts, the more Christians he kills, the more Christians he creates.
- A Hell of a Time: In the "Don Juan in Hell" sequence in Man and Superman, Hell is a relatively pleasant place...
Don Juan: Hell, Señora, is a place for the wicked. The wicked are quite comfortable.
- Literary Allusion Title: "Man and Superman" is an allusion to Thus Spake Zarathustra
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Immenso Champernoon" (G. K. Chesterton) in Back to Methuselah
- Satan Is Good: In the "Don Juan in Hell" dream-sequence interlude of Man and Superman, the difference between Heaven and Hell is not presented as being between good and evil. Rather, Hell is a place for those who love pleasure, love and beauty to be happy; Heaven is a place for the higher-minded, intellectual, aspiring sorts who worship the "Life Force" (a philosophical concept in which Shaw, apparently, actually believed). The Devil is a gentleman who left Heaven and set up Hell because he found Heaven intolerably boring. God is not mentioned at all; the implication is that there is no God, save the Life Force.
- Something Completely Different: Act III of Man and Superman. Everyone's suddenly in hell, all their names have changed, and they're pausing the plot to have a big philosophical debate, and afterwards everything's back to normal. It's usually left out entirely.
- The Unpronounceable:
- In Caesar and Cleopatra, none of the Romans can pronounce the name of Cleopatra's nurse Ftatateeta.
Ftatateeta: Who pronounces the name of Ftatateeta, the Queen's chief nurse?
- In Misalliance, there's a running joke of no one being able to pronounce (or spell) Lena Szczepalowska's last name -- while Lena herself can't fathom why everyone's having so much trouble with it.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With G. K. Chesterton in Real Life.
Chesterton: George, you look like you just came from a country in a famine!