Pilgrim’s Prize (Pt.5): The Cook’s Tale (Chaucer Journal)
There is not a lot to say about this tale: the story is simple and comedic but vulgar and lacks the sophistication of the previous tales.
Meet “the cook”. He is an apprentice who likes to gamble and drink but with his master’s money. One day, the master has gotten sick of his underling wasting away his hard-earned cash and fires his lazy bottom. The apprentice, then, moves in with his buddy whose wife is a prostitute. The end.
Not much, as I said. The crux of this tale lies in shock value. The final lines in Chaucer’s original, after all, reads “Whose wife kept as a respectable front / A shop; but earned a living with her cunt” (114). It is vulgar but short and sweet. I supposed that back in the middle ages this was top of the line when it came to obscene literature, though it holds up not so well today in our world of late capitalist enterprise and culture industry.
In any case, and unfortunately, the modern response to The Cook’s Tale is unimpressive.
Told by a Roger Fleming via a stand-up comedy act, I simply didn’t know what was supposed to be amusing about his routine. Habitually, he apologized for certain vulgar or obscene aspects of his act, aspects which really were not that obscene compared to other stand-up comedians’ acts, and never seemed to go that extra mile; the act never felt authentic. Moreover, it simply wasn’t funny. He was going through the motions. I don’t know. Maybe I am being too harsh but it just was not for me.
I will give Fleming props, though; the idea of a stand-up comic fit the short format of the cook’s tale well. Though the content simply wasn’t to my liking, the medium was and kept things different. So, I will give Fleming’s rendition a 5/10 instead of the lower score I had intended for it.