Way back when I was in high school, Cliff Notes were the preferred reviews both for kids like me who loved to read and wanted to learn more and those who hoped to avoid reading the full novel by instead skimming the short summary and the accompanying literary themes.
Today there’s a hilarious new take on Cliff Notes : Thug Notes.
My fifteen-year-old son introduced me to this amusing series of YouTube videos covering the literary classics.
Comedian Greg Edwards plays the thug of the title. In less than five minutes, he sums up the plot of our greatest literary classics, and addresses the major literary themes, key quotes, and author influences. And he does it all with street slang and a decidedly non-academic lens on how to enjoy great literature. But that’s not to say the literary analysis is not spot on.
My son had recently read and enjoyed Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. He had discussed it with me and had a thorough understanding of the central themes of alienation, thwarted desires, and an absence of familial love and support and how they are believed to be related to Kafka’s own life. Then we watched the Thug Notes version together, and we were rolling on the floor with laughter.
From the opening scene and its send-up of the Masterpiece Theatre episodes I grew up with, to the hilarious recounting of Gregor Samsa’s ungrateful family whose primary concern when their son/brother is transformed into an insect is that he can no longer financially support them, to Gregor’s sense of alienation and eventual suicide, this episode was both accurate and hilarious.
We’ve watched some of the other episodes together, and I think that anyone who loves literature will enjoy this creative take on literary interpretation. I’m glad my son introduced me to this YouTube channel, and I look forward to these creative takes on the classics I love.
Watch (and enjoy) for yourself at Thug Notes.