The duke and king build anticipation for a three-night performance of a “Thrilling Tragedy.” The performance opens with a long speech and then “the king come a-prancing out on all fours, naked . . . painted all over . . . and splendid as a rainbow” and capers around the stage. The audience laughs and calls for encores until they realize the “king” has gone and the show is over. But rather than admit they’ve been fooled, the audience talks up the show to ensure the joke is played on the next night’s audience. On the third night, the king and duke—having already collected three nights’ admission fees—leave town as soon as the audience is seated.