SNL Transcripts: Steve Martin: 11/04/78: Theodoric of York: Medieval Judge


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 4: Episode 4

78d: Steve Martin / Van Morrison

Theodoric of York: Medieval Judge

Theodoric of York…..Steve Martin
Witch…..Laraine Newman
Broom Gilda…..Gilda Radner
Townsman…..Brian Doyle-Murray
Townswoman…..Anne Beatts
Announcer…..Don Pardo
Reeve…..Dan Aykroyd
Guard #1…..Tom Davis
Guard #2…..Al Franken
Simpkin of Partridge…..Bill Murray
John the Tanner…..John Belushi
Witch’s Mother…..Jane Curtin




Various townspeople are gathered around a WITCH. BROOM GILDA stands behind the witch, pointing more and more at her. THEODORIC OF YORK is seated at a judicial bench/table where the witch leans against.

Broom Gilda: I saw her consorting with the devil!!

Townsman: No calves have been born since she moved here!!

Townswoman: She’s a witch! Burn her!


[ Theodoric rises up. ]

Theodoric of York: Wait a minute! Wait!! What are we!? Barbarians!? This is the 12th century! Just as long as I’m the justicard of this shire, everyone will be giving a fair trial according to the laws of England!

[ Theodoric cocks his head up. ]



Announcer (V/O): Theodoric of York – Medieval Judge.

[ REEVE, a knight/town crier, opens a scroll. ]

Reeve: Hereby! Let it be known to all, Theodoric of York, the justicard of the realm, will preside this day, to here all writs to dispute all claims and thereof of the shire!

Theodoric of York: Now! Who saw this woman consort with the devil!?

Broom Gilda: It was I! Broom Gilda.

[ Broom Gilda approaches Theodoric. ]

Broom Gilda: I was driving home the Abbotts’ oxen last night and I saw her! By the river! Talking freely with Satan!!

[ The witch sobs. Theodoric raises his arms. ]

Theodoric of York: How do you know it was Satan!? What form did he take?

Broom Gilda: A leather-winged griffin!

Theodoric of York: Hh-mm… That’s the devil all right! How do you answer these charges!?

Witch: I was gathering wood when a wandering troubadour stopped me and asked me where he might find food. I told him I didn’t know where, but offered him some goose liver I had in my pocket.

[ Broom Gilda grabs the witch’s braided ponytail. ]

Broom Gilda: You liar! You bitch!!

[ The crowd gets riled. ]

Theodoric of York: Hold! Hold! The law is clear in such matters. Let us consult the writ of common wisdom…Reeve!

[ Reeve fetches a large, black leather-bounded reference manual and holds it in the air. ]

Reeve: The writ of common wisdom!

[ Reeve places it before Theodoric. Theodoric paces through it. ]

Theodoric of York: Okay. Let’s see… Befoulment of wells… Boar pouching… Consorting with dames… Consorting with yourself… Aha! Consorting with the devil. All right, this is very clear in here. It’s in Latin, so I’ll put it to you in layman’s English – – we’re going to have to throw you in the trough of justice!

[ Two GUARDS tie the witch’s hands in rope. ]

Theodoric of York: And if you’re guilty, you’ll float on water. And if you’re innocent, you’ll sink. So you have nothing to fear!

[ The guards hoist the witch up and carry her to a hot water-filled trough. Theodoric follows them. ]

Theodoric of York: If the accused floats, that means the water has rejected her body. Of course, if the accused here sinks, that means the water has accepted her body… therefore she’s innocent.

[ The witch’s body has sunk to the bottom. Minimal air bubbles float up to the surface. No sign of life. Theodoric raises his arms. ]

Theodoric of York: Ah! Not guilty!

[ The crowd bickers and cheers equally. Theodoric returns to the bench. Reeve opens another scroll. SIMPKIN OF PARTRIDGE, a man in tattered clothes and unkempt hair, approaches the bench holding a piglet he’s also stroking. ]

Reeve: The case of Simpkin of Partridge versus the Thane of Brisbane! A sheriff arrested this man serving time when stealing swine while impersonating a free man.

Simpkin: Your justice – the charges are false. I was returning Charlotte here to the Thane and I really was made a free man yesterday as a travelling nobleman said ‘You’re free, go ahead’. If you let me go back to my home, I can come back with the documents for you.

Theodoric of York: You swear before this court that what you say is true?

[ Simpkin nods his head. ]

Simpkin: You’re damn right.

Theodoric of York: Well, there’s only one way to tell – remove his boots!

Reeve: Take the piglet! Take the pig!

[ Broom Gilda takes the piglet away from Simpkin. The guards lift Simpkin onto the bench and remove his boots. ]

Theodoric of York: You will take 10 paces on the burning coals of truth. If you’re telling the truth, your wounds will not fester!

[ A guard escorts Simpkin to a bed of burning coals. ]

Simpkin: 10 paces, huh? Like Sugar Ray in the ring?

[ Simpkin steps on the coals and begins pacing. He shows no pain. ]

Simpkin: One, two, thr – aaahhh!

[ The guard removes Simpkin from the coals. ]

Simpkin: Okay. I was lying. I stole the pig. But I was so hungry and the taxes were so great.

Theodoric of York: Put him on the rack.

[ The guards tie Simpkin’s arms to a body-stretching rack. ]

Simpkin: My feet. My feet hurt.

[ The guards spin the rack’s wheel. Simpkin wails. ]

Simpkin: This is worse than the coals.

Reeve: Send in the accused! The case of John the Tanner versus Lord Coltchester!

[ JOHN THE TANNER saunters in. ]

Theodoric of York: John the Tanner – you have stood twice before this court. First, you were found guilty of theft and your right arm was cut off.

[ John raises what’s left of his right arm. ]

Theodoric of York: Then you were found guilty of lying and your tongue was cut out.

[ John makes odd oral motions with his mouth. ]

Theodoric of York: Now, you stand charged again. How do you plead?

[ John’s eyebrows raise. He jerks his head side-to-side, opens his palms, and shakes his head. ]

Theodoric of York: I see. And what’s this man accused of?

Reeve: Adultery.

[ Reeve passes an opened scroll to Theodoric. Theodoric glances over it. ]

Theodoric of York: Let’s see – adultery. You were found guilty of theft and your right arm was cut off. Uh… you were found guilty of lying and your tongue was cut out… Now… adultery…

[ Theodoric eyes the sky and strokes his chin. ]

Theodoric of York: The writ of common wisdom!

Reeve: The writ of common wisdom!

[ Reeve places the prior seen reference manual before Theodoric. ]

Theodoric of York: The punishment for adultery is… Oh, geez – I can’t read this publicly.

[ Theodoric hand-signals John for a whisper. Theodoric whispers and after, he and John grimace. The guards take John away. The WITCH’S MOTHER scurries to Theodoric. ]

Mother: They told me my daughter was here. They told me she was accused of consorting with the devil.

Theodoric of York: Congratulations! She was found innocent.

Mother: Oh Thank God! Where is she?

Theodoric of York: At the bottom of the trough of justice!

[ The mother trots over to the trough. ]

Theodoric of York: You see if the body is accepted by the water that means she’s not guilty.

[ The mother pulls out a soaked dress from the trough. ]

Mother: She’s dead!!

Theodoric of York: Well, she must have drowned from being under the water.

Mother: You call this justice!? An innocent girl dead?

Theodoric of York: Hey! God’s will!

Mother: Why don’t you just admit it!? You don’t know what you’re doing! And who are you to interpret God’s will!?

Simpkin: Yeah! By what right?

Theodoric of York: Well… the King. It’s the law.

Mother: Well, the law’s wrong. It should be changed.

Simpkin: You know, she’s right. There’s a point in what she’s saying.

[ Theodoric guides around the trough and to the center. ]

Theodoric of York: Wait a minute – perhaps she’s right. Maybe the King doesn’t have a monopoly on the truth. Maybe he should be judged by his peers. Oh! A jury! A jury of his peers. Of six good men! No wait! Eight good men! No!! Ten good men!! No, that’s not enough… 18 good men!! No, that’s TOO MANY. Let’s see… 11 good men! Wait! 13 good men! No… 11, 13, 11, 13… it doesn’t matter. Okay. But everyone should be tried by a jury of their peers and be equal before the law. And perhaps, every person should be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

[ Theodoric takes a brief pause. ]

Theodoric of York: Nah!!

Reeve: The Shire before the Court is now adjourned!!

[ Theodoric returns to the bench. ]



Submitted by: Cody Downs

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Daren Scot Wilson
Daren Scot Wilson
3 years ago

I’ve been trying to find this hilarious skit on Youtube or anywhere. It’s not to be found! This transcript is the next best thing.

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