When Samuel Beckett Drove Young André the Giant to School

Are your idle moments spent invent­ing imag­i­nary con­ver­sa­tions between strange bed­fel­lows? The sort of con­ver­sa­tion that might tran­spire in a pick­up truck belong­ing to Samuel Beck­ett, say, were the Irish play­wright to chauf­feur the child André Rene Rous­si­moff—aka pro wrestler André the Giant—to school?

Too sil­ly, you say? Non­sense. This isn’t some wack­adoo ran­dom pair­ing, but an actu­al his­toric meet­ing of the minds, as André’s Princess Bride co-star and soon-to-be-pub­lished film his­to­ri­an, Cary Elwes, attests above.

In 1958, when 12-year-old André’s acromegaly pre­vent­ed him from tak­ing the school bus, the author of Wait­ing for Godot, whom he knew as his dad’s card bud­dy and neigh­bor in rur­al Moulien, France, vol­un­teered for trans­port duty. It was a stand­ing gig, with no oth­er pas­sen­gers. André recalled that they most­ly talked about crick­et, but sure­ly they dis­cussed oth­er top­ics, too, right? Right!?

Even if they did­n’t, it’s deli­cious­ly fun to spec­u­late.

In the  bare­bones entry above, Bing­ham­ton, New York’s Därk­horse Drä­ma­tists play­wright Ron Burch has Beck­ett dis­pens­ing roman­tic advice in much the same way that he wrote dia­logue, to cre­ate a dialec­tic.  (“So I should embrace the nega­tion of the act in order to get the oppo­site reac­tion?” André asks, re: a girl he’s eager to kiss.)

Burch is not the only drama­tist to tack­le these mys­tery rides. Chica­go play­wright Rory Job­st was inspired to write Samuel Beck­ett, Andre the Giant, and the Crick­ets after lis­ten­ing to They Might Be Giants’ John Flans­burgh and John Lin­nell par­tic­i­pat­ing in a 3‑question André the Giant triv­ia quiz on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.


Car­toon­ist Box Brown is anoth­er to take a stab at the unlike­ly car­pool bud­dies’ chit chat (above), with his graph­ic biog­ra­phy, Andre the Giant. In his ver­sion, Beck­ett asks André why he’s so big, André asks Beck­ett if he plays foot­ball, and Beck­ett gives him his first cig­a­rette. (“Well, y’know, they stunt your growth so,” Beck­ett hes­i­tates, “…eh, okay.”)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Film, Samuel Beckett’s Only Movie, Star­ring Buster Keaton

Rare Audio: Samuel Beck­ett Reads Two Poems From His Nov­el Watt

The Ulti­mate War­rior, Pro­fes­sion­al Wrestler & Philoso­pher, Cre­at­ed a Glos­sary of World Philoso­phies

Andy Warhol’s One Minute of Pro­fes­sion­al Wrestling Fame (1985)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is inter­est­ed in hear­ing about unortho­dox pro­duc­tions of Wait­ing for Godot @AyunHalliday.

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