What Makes a Great Monologue?

Last night we watched Ratatouille for "Family Movie Night." I like that movie more every time I see it. One of my favorite scenes is where Anton Ego reads his review of eating the dish of Ratatouille, created by a kitchen filled with rats. It has to be the greatest monologue in an animated film and perhaps one of the greatest monologues ever. Here, read it for yourself:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.

In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

So it got me thinking. What makes a great monologue? The delivery is clearly important. I once saw Vincent Price speak live, and his stage presence was so strong I would have been captivated to hear him read obituaries out of the paper. But I think it's the content that makes the real difference. I like Anton's review because it eloquently ties together three universal and very relevant truths:

  1. It's easy for any of us to become critical.
  2. There's risk in defending new things.
  3. Great things can come from anywhere (and do).

Here are a few other answers to what makes a great monologue. What's one of your favorite monologues and why?