1. You must read the post in its entirety.
2. If at any point you chuckle wryly, guffaw, or snicker knowingly to yourself, you lose the game. An approving chortle of any kind will lead to immediate disqualification.
3. You must read this post to yourself in a posh English accent.
WARNING: Some of these witticisms are rather droll.
Very well. Let us begin.
Your first challenge is to consider these observations about, respectively, Englishmen, Americans, journalists, foreign correspondents, and an overly self-serious actor named Paul Henreid. Ready?
Now that we’re warmed up, let us proceed to the critics. Your task is to judiciously appraise the following statements and consider their veracity. You may curl your lip upward in modest approval but an accompanying titter WILL disqualify you, so be wary.
Now that the critics have had their say, let us proceed to the rebuttals. Please take a moment to consider these retorts from individuals who have had the misfortune to fall under the critics’ disapproving gaze.
Gareth Cattermole / Getty
We regretfully interrupt this experience to propose a toast!
Let us proceed with a brief statement from Churchill…
… an observation about Parliament by Charles Babbage …
… and a remark about Joyce by Tom Stoppard.
On to the Wilde and Whistler segment! Be very careful with Wilde and Whistler, as they are apt to trip you up, especially when they are compelled to interact. Ready? Let us begin.
You may briefly drop your affected English accent for the second part of this next segment, which is cleverly entitled “Churchill, then Twain,” as we do not want to do an injustice to the latter. Shall we start?
You will doubtless be pleased to learn that we are very nearly finished! Please just take a short moment to consider four notable exchanges, and then we shall conclude with Dorothy Parker (you have been warned). Ready? Marvelous.
And now, Dorothy Parker:
How did you do? Please be so kind as to enumerate the instances in which you were or were not able to refrain from indulging in a wry chuckle. Be honest!
Most of these observations (and many more!) can be found in Matthew Parris’s book Scorn, With Added Vitriol.
The Babbage anecdote is from The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick.
And Wodehouse’s lovely remark about critics is quoted in this essay by The Atlantic.