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Moss: No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him about this... [pause]

Aaronow: Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just...

Moss: No, we're just...

Aaronow: We're just "talking" about it.

Moss: We're just speaking about it. [pause] As an idea.

Aaronow: As an idea.

Moss: Yes.

Aaronow: We're not actually talking about it.

Moss: No.

Aaronow: Talking about it as a...

Moss: No.

Aaronow: As a robbery.

Moss: As a "robbery"? No.

American writer David Mamet is probably most famous for his distinctive style of writing fast, clever, edgy dialogue. When a playwright wins a Pulitzer Prize, his style does not often go without imitation. Mamet's often-imitated dialogue style is called Mamet Speak.

Mamet Speak has the following qualities:

  • It is fast. Characters speak in quick succession, frequently cutting each other off, finishing each other's sentences, and repeating themselves whilst the other speaks.
  • It is frequently focused on semantics. Mamet's characters are known for manipulating language itself to get what they want, or at least discussing the importance of their particular language.
  • It is almost always "vulgar". In keeping with Mamet's general domain of tough-talking characters, Cluster F-Bomb is the name of the game. (Roger Ebert once titled a Movie Glossary entry the "Mamet Dammit" while noting that the swears in question usually weren't that mild.)

Compare Rapid Fire Interrupting, where the interrupting is one-sided.

Examples of Mamet Speak include:


Comics

  • Brian Bendis does this in his works, some even call him the "Mamet of Comics". He variously refers to Mamet as his god, his hero and his go-to source of inspiration.

Film

  • Iron Man 2 ramped this up immensely from the first one, in that other characters aside from Tony Stark started doing it.
  • Some of the dialogue in Primer is like this, with characters talking over each other and answering with quick, short lines.
  • 40's film director Howard Hawks favored a style of dialog similar to Mamet's, especially in terms of speed and overlap. He had to do without the cussing, of course.
  • Possibly referenced in a couple lines of dialogue from The Toxic Avenger 2, of all places:

 Apocalypse Inc. Chairman: "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be"... Shakespeare.

Homeless Woman: "Fuck You"... David Mamet.

Live Action TV

  • Aaron Sorkin's distinctive dialogue style (as heard in The West Wing and Studio 60) is similar, though with less cursing and less of characters talking over each other. And arguably more Author Filibusters.

New Media

  • A delicious send-up of a possible dialogue from the upcoming Anne Frank movie is here.

Theatre

  • Naturally, the works of David Mamet himself.
  • Joyce Carol Oates' Tone Clusters, while scant on the swearing, contains a great deal of the Gulicks rapidly talking over one another at great length, and constantly repeating one another.
  • The first scene between Roy and Joe in Angels in America contains a lot of this, with Joe's attempts to get a word in edgewise between Roy's onslaughts of speech.
  • Neil La Bute uses a lot of this, particularly in reasons to be pretty and In a Dark, Dark House.

Web Original

  • Each episode being only a few minutes long at most, Hey Ash Whatcha Playin is rife with constant dialogue back and forths, snappy sentences and a fair amount of cursing.

Real Life

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