Party Like A Pirate: How To Get Into Character


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In truth, pirates are a corrupt, murderous bunch who would probably rob you blind before you could even blink. Real life scally wags like the notorious Bartholomew Roberts used their fearsome reputation to achieve their own ends. Legend has it that he once burnt a ship containing 80 slaves, simply because he couldn’t be bothered to unshackle them.

However, despite these grisly facts there is something about the swaggering figure of the pirate that fascinates us. The explanation behind the transformation of the pirate into a loveable rogue lies in Hollywood. Iconic characters like Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow have captured our imaginations (as well as a number of hearts). The fact is that they look like they’d be massively fun to hang out with.

With National Talk Like A Pirate Day coming up on September the 19th we thought it would be a great chance to host a pirate party. Here’s how you can get into character.

Mannerisms And Phrases

With a title including the phrase ‘Talk Like A Pirate’ it’s obvious that you need to alter your personality for the day, as well as your appearance. Remember you’re a notorious scallywag! Just try to refrain from actually doing any murdering or pillaging. To help you get into character, here are some mannerisms and phrases used by two of Hollywood’s most famous pirates.

Captain Jack Sparrow

Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was the only good thing about most of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. All about phrases and mannerisms, the character has come to define the 18th century pirate in most people’s minds. Based on The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, Sparrow is basically a seafaring rock star. To get into character follow these simple steps:

–          Walk as if you’re on a boat at all times. Jack has a very distinctive gait with arms outstretched as if for balance, careful mincing steps and combined with a natural swagger.

–          Use exaggerated arm movements whenever you talk to convey the fact that you are both eccentric and mad. Combine this with wide eyes that you frequently narrow for effect.

–          Adopt some of Jack’s catchphrases for the day. Favourites include, ‘I’m Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?’, ‘Why is the rum gone? ‘and ‘This is the day that you will always remember, as the day that you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow’.


Robert Newton’s portrayal of Blackbeard was unforgettably charismatic. His classic swagger, vocal intonations and exaggerated facial expressions were the first portrayal of what we now take for granted as the classic ‘Golden Age’ pirate. To add a little Blackbeard to your depiction follow these tips:

–          Do a hell of a lot of ‘Arrrrrring!’ This was Newton’s trademark in Blackbeard The Pirate. Incorporate this tone into your speech, so that every word has an ‘arrrrr’ like sound to it.

–          Newton was the king of mad eyes. Open your eyes as wide as possible, and tilt your head at an angle so that people can see the whites.

–          Use really bad grammar by repeating parts of sentences, and shortening words. For example, ‘He’ll be coming face to face with ol’ flint himself- he will’ is a classic.

jack sparrow            

Image by Tom (CC-BY)


It’s impossible to get into character without dressing up. The pirate get-up is perfect for going to town. Excuses and the donning of a singular hat are strictly banned. The aim here is to get so much into the role that you can barely remember your own name. Essential pirate gear includes:

–          A Beard: No pirate outfit would be complete without an impressive display of facial hair. Whether you go for the groomed oily look a la Captain Hook or the scruffy rock star look a la Captain Jack, is up to you.

–          A Hat: A pirate’s hat is like their source of secret power and you shouldn’t be seen dead without yours being firmly on your head. A wide, brimmed opulent affair is the classic choice.

–          A Plastic Cutlass: You won’t get much pillaging done without your trusty dagger.

–          18th Century Get-Up: This traditionally includes a waistcoat, long sleeved shirt and dress coat. Again, it’s up to you whether you go scruffy or polished.

–          A Shoulder Parrot– If you want to go-all-out a shoulder parrot is a must. After all, if you end up marooned on a desert island you’ll need some companionship.

–          An Eye Patch-To convincingly allude to all those horrible battles you’ve been in.

–          Extras- Bohemian accessories such as hair beads and bandannas are popular with those chasing the ‘Johnny Depp’ look.

Most party suppliers such as Perfect Party UK provide a range of pirate costumes and accessories.

Despite their criminal origins, the pirate has become one of the best loved figures in popular culture. A bunch of scallywags with a penchant for rum, there’s no denying that they look like they know how to have a good time. Talk Like A Pirate Day is a great excuse to have some fun! After all, nobody parties like a pirate.

Author: Susannah Perez lives in London and likes to work hard and play hard.

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