The Knight of the Burning Pestle is a play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher (likely almost entirely by Beaumont) first published in 1613 which is notable as the first parody play in English.
The play is a satire on chivalric romances in general, similar to Don Quixote, and a parody of Thomas Heywood's The Four Prentices of London. Furthermore, the play is notable for breaking the fourth wall at its outset. A grocer and his wife in the audience of the play interrupt to complain loudly that plays are always about nobility and that it is they, the common man who pay for most of the tickets. It is suggested that one of them, in fact, their apprentice, Rafe, should have a part in the play. Rafe then gets the part of the "Grocer Errant" in the drama that had been interrupted. He has a burning pestle on his shield as a heraldic device and has to undertake the daring rescue of patients being held by a barber named Barbaroso. The meta-fictional plot is intercut with the main plot of the interrupted play, where Jasper, a merchant's apprentice, is in love with his master's daughter, Luce, and must elope with her to save her from the arranged marriage with Humphrey. Humphrey and the merchant capture the lovers, and the merchant locks Luce in her room. Jasper feigns death and gets his coffin carried to the merchant's house (as the merchant is responsible for his apprentice). He then gets up from the coffin and pretends to be his own ghost and frightens the merchant into giving consent to his match with Luce.
The play hits a number of satirical and parodic points. The audience is satirized, with the interrupting grocer, but the domineering and demanding merchant class is also satirized in the main plot. Beaumont makes fun of the new demand for stories of the middle classes for the middle classes, even as he makes fun of their taste for an exoticism and a chivalry that is entirely hyperbolic.
A 1974 production of the play featured music by Peter Schickele, best known as the creator of P.D.Q. Bach.