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alpha and omega

Alpha and Omega were far and away the top comedy duo in ancient Greece. For about 25 years, from 495 to 380BC, they were killing—in at least one instance, literally—audiences throughout Greece and, on the road, in neighbouring countries.

Alpha and Omega’s schtick was to satirize the philosophers of the day. Their genius displayed itself in their ability to make philosophers think that Alpha and Omega were mocking the peasant masses who were too dim-witted to understand what the philosophers saying, while the masses were convinced that Alpha and Omega were mocking the arrogant, elitist philosophers for spouting pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook.

The comedy team were so funny that when Socrates attended a performance he laughed so hard that he couldn’t catch his breath and he died. Historians thought this was too undignified an end for such an allegedly great philosopher so they concocted a cockamamy story about Socrates being tried for corrupting Athen’s youth by encouraging them to not accept the state or the gods. The concocted story then said that he drank poison hemlock as a death sentence when he was convicted. This story lives on until today, all in an attempt to cover up the fact that Socrates, in reality, died of laughter.

Alpha and Omega also caused the downfall of the Greek gods. On a number of occassions, Zeus, Aphrodite and Apollo took in Alpha and Omega’s performances from on high. Every time they did, they laughed so hard that they weren’t able to control their bladders. Each time, it rained yellow rain on a wide swath of Greece for days. When it became clear to all mortals that the gods were so weak that they couldn’t hold their water, people eventually stopped believing in them. It’s said that Nemesis never forgave Zeus, Aphrodite and Apollo for the downfall of the Greek gods and goddesses in this most humiliating of ways.

In 380BC the team split up over a dispute about marquee billing. Omega thought that for the next 25 years the act should be called Omega and Alpha because, thought Omega, it was unfair that Alpha had top billing for the first 25 years. Omega thought it was time to right the wrong. Alpha disagreed. They never reconciled and they died within a year of each other a few years later.

The act may have split up, but their legacy lives on. From that time on, any comedy duo that was able to consistently pack comedy clubs in Greece was generically referred to as the alpha and omega (lower case because it had become a generic term rather than a proper name) of Greek comedy.

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