Columnists

Sketch Comedy

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Sep 13, 2012
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"A brilliant comic voice... never to be heard," my cousin Dieter said mournfully.

"What’s eating him?" our friend Axel asked.

"He’s bummed because he’s not going to be in this year’s Boston Comedy Festival," I said, referring to our city’s annual stand-up yukfest. "Of course, he’d have had a better chance if he’d actually applied..."

"I couldn’t face the rejection," Dieter cried. "And anyway you shoulda been my in."

"I shoulda what?!"

"Dude," Dieter snapped, with an accusing jab of a finger, "you interviewed some of those guys."

"That’s not how it works, cuz..."

"Plus, dude, you’re just not that funny," Axel offered, none too consolingly.

Somehow, this exchange ended up with me placating my furious cousin by promising him space in this column to present to the world three selections from his corpus of comedy sketches.

In the spirit of good humor, and with a salute to this year’s Beantown joke-o-rama... guys, this is what I have spared you.


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"The In Crowd"


INTERIOR. NIGHT. FANCY PARTY AT AN ART GALLERY. CANVASES LINE THE WALL, FRIGHTFUL WITH SCARLET SPATTERINGS. IT LOOKS LIKE FRANCIS BACON CUT THE THROATS OF PIGS AND CHICKENS AND THEN HANDED THE THRASHING VICTIMS OVER TO JACKSON POLLOCK.

A HOLLYWOOD CROWD HAS GATHERED TO CONGRATULATE A HOT NEW ARTIST. CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS AND WAITERS CIRCULATE OFFERING TRAYS OF CHAMPAGNE AND HORS D’OEURVES.

SYCOPHANT #1: (fawning)

Oh my gaawwd, darling, it’s SO AMAZING that you’re on the cover of "Phoney Baloney" this month...

HOT NEW ARTIST:

Maia said "Why not try switching from acrylic to goat blood?" And I just said, "Get me the abattoir on the phone."

THE CROWD TITTERS

SYCOPHANT #2: (fawning even more)

Will you take the contract to produce a new clothing line?

HOT NEW ARTIST:

I’m torn by my artistic inspiration and my noblesse oblige. My muse says to design clothing bearing the blood stains of murdered whales... but my publicist says to do something socially meaningful, find a gesture... I was thinking about a fall collection of found clothing - salvaged from dead guerilla soldiers, for example, or pulled from the bodies of car crash victims...

THE CROWD NODS AND MURMURS

SYCOPHANT #3: (stroking HOT YOUNG ARTIST’S neck)

My deee-yah! Why can’t you simply do both in one line? Call it "The Flesh is Willing." It will be arterial sprays and briney slaughter, rips and shreds, it would be artistic and sexy and you have no idea how divoooone it’s going to sell. Oh, I mean, look. On skinny models.

THE CROWD OFFERS ASSENT AND ADULATION.

SUDDNELY, THE PERKY BLONDE HEROINE COMES CHARGING IN...

PERKY BLONDE HEROINE:

But don’t you see? He has nothing original to show you... He hasn’t even got his own distinctive voice... Art should have vision... He’s nothing but a mimic!

THE MUSIC PLUMMETS TO AN AWKWARD SILENCE. THOSE ASSEMBLED TURN TO GAWK. PERKY BLONDE HEROINE BRACES HERSELF FOR CRIES OF REALIZATION AND GRATITUDE FROM ALL QUARTERS. AND THEN...

WAITERS RESUME CIRCULATING. THE MUSIC RESUMES. THE CROWD TURNS BACK TO ITS SUCKING UP.

SYCOPHANT #4: (nibbling HOT NEW ARTIST’S EAR)

I looove Tuscany in the autumn...

PERKY BLONDE HEROINE, NOW IGNORED, LOOKS AROUND IN PUZZLEMENT, UNSURE OF WHAT TO DO NEXT...

TRANSITION TO...


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"Calendar Items"


INTERIOR. GRIM MAN SITS IN A CHAIR AND FACES THE CAMERA.

GRIM MAN: (stentorian)

The Terrorist Threat. It’s never gone away. It’s still lurking. And let me show you what the Terror Assessment Team has uncovered...

CUT TO:

GRAINY FILMSTRIP IMAGES OF AL QUAEDA TYPES STARING FROM CAVES, CARRYING ASSAULT WEAPONS, AND FINALLY HUNCHED OVER A LAPTOP, POINTING AND JABBERING WITH EXCITEMENT

GRIM MAN: (v/o)

Implacable enemies of freedom have figured out a foolproof way to sabotage America and destroy EVERYTHING!

THE FILM SHOWS A SHIFTY LOOKING "TERRORIST." HE IS BLOND AND BLUE EYED. HE LOOKS LIKE AN ACTOR WHO ANSWERED AN AD FROM CRAIGSLIST.

GRIM MAN: (v/o)

This is Ak-Ak.

SUBTITLES APPEAR: "NOT HIS REAL NAME. HIS NAME, WHICH IS JOHN SMYTHE, HAS BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT HIS PRIVACY."

GRIM MAN: (v/o, continuing)

He has figured out a way to use Americans themselves against America... by taking control of their calendar items!

CUT TO: CLOSE UP OF LAPTOP AND SMART PHONE ON TABLE IN CORNER OF A CAVE

GRIM MAN: (v/o)

Watch as we demonstrate using dramatized footage... Ak-Ak and his henchmen hack into Chuck’s phone...

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. DAY. LOOKS LIKE THE KITCHEN OF A MCMANSION. CHUCK, A TYPICAL SLOB, IS LOOKING AT HIS PHONE.

CHUCK: (muttering)

Oil change... send mortgage check... blow up Hoover Dam...

CUT TO:

FAKE LOOKING FOOTAGE OF A MODEL DAM BEING BLOWN UP AND UNLEASHING A TORRENT OF WATER

GRIM MAN (v/o)

As you can see, Ak-Ak’s sinister plan relies on American ingenuity to do his dirty work for him! The American can-do spirit is at risk of being perverted into a WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION!

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR. DAY. ANOTHER ORDINARY LOOKING GUY SURVEYING HIS PHONE AS HE PAUSES IN HIS DRIVEWAY.

GRIM MAN: (v/o)

This is Jerry. Little does he realize that his day’s agenda includes high treason and mass murder! He’s just trying to get through his list of tasks. He doesn’t realize he’s been co-opted to serve as an AGENT OF CHAOS!

JERRY: (muttering as he scrolls)

Dog’s veterinary appointment... assassinate Speaker of the House... order wedding gift for Marcia and Rudy...

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. DAY. LOOKS LIKE A CHAMBER OF GOVERNMENT. OLDER WHITE GUY ADDRESSES ROOM OF OTHER OLDER WHITE GUYS. SUDDENLY A GUNSHOT IS HEARD AND THE OLDER WHITE GUY COLLAPSES.

GRIM MAN: (v/o)

And just like that... the nation is crippled and rudderless! The trigger finger of terror has struck again! And this time its name was Jerry!

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. DAY. GRIM MAN IN HIS CHAIR.

GRIM MAN:

As you can see, countermeasures are urgently needed! Or American citizens will become UNWITTING TOOLS OF TERROR! That’s why the Department of Free Money for Patriots should send a check in the amount of $36 million to me, Joe Neckbone, Hackensack, New Jersey.

TRANSITION TO...


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"Language Barrier"


INTERIOR: CORPORATE HALLWAY

AN AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN, MR RUBE, FLANKED BY SEVERAL CHINESE MEN IN SUITS. WALKS UP THE HALL. THE INTERPRETER EXPLAINS THE COMMENTS THE CHINESE MEN MAKE.

INTERPRETER:

And Mr Wu says that we are very excited to be doing business with your company, Mr Rube.

MR RUBE:

Thank you, Mr Wu...

THE INTERPRETER TRANSLATES AND MR WU NODS WITH A BIG SMILE

A NEW MAN APPROACHES

INTERPRETER:

And this is Mr Sing, our COO.

MR SING: (bowing to MR RUBE)

Egano. Kotabawa. Tsokaitoke.

MR RUBE LOOKS TO THE INTERPRETER EXPECTANTLY.

INTERPRETER:

Uh, Mr Sing says... that he very much likes your American haircut!

CUT TO: CLOSE UP OF MR SING, WITH A NASTY SMILE

CUT BACK TO GROUP SHOT

MR RUBE:

Oh, thank you, Mr Sing. It’s a very exclusive haircut. I go to a very expensive salon, and Fabio always handles my hair with great finesse... Everyone here has also got... such... well-groomed hair...

CUT TO: CAMERA PANS GROUP OF CHINESE MEN NODDING AND SMILING. THEY HAVE IDENTICAL STRAIGHT, BOWL-CUT HAIRSTYLES.

A NEW MAN, INTERPRETER #2, APPROACHES

INTERPRETER:

This next department is not my field, but my colleague will now serve as your interpreter...

CUT TO:

INTERIOR: OFFICE SPACE, FILLED WITH CUBICLES STAFFED BY DRONES ON PHONES AND COMPUTERS

INTERPRETER #2:

This is our phone center. As you can see, we employ a sizeable staff. Our customer satisfaction ratings are very high.

ANOTHER MAN, MR TOE, APPROACHES

INTERPRETER #2

This is Mr Toe. He is the Departmental Supervisor.

MR RUBE: (holding out his hand)

Mr. Toe, so very nice to meet you!

MR TOE BOWS AND CLASPS HIS HAND WARMLY

MR TOE:

Egano. Kotabawa. Tsokaitoke.

INTERPRETER:

He says...

MR RUBE: (brushing his hair proudly with his fingertips)

Oh, I know, it’s -

INTERPRETER #2

...those are wonderful stylish eyeglasses!

MR RUBE (confused):

Oh... ah, tell him... thank you very much... I love the... the range of style to be found in your Chinese eyewear...

INTERPRETER #2 TRANLSATES AS WE:

CUT TO: CLOSE UP OF MR TOE, WHOSE SMILE IS TURNING INTO A SNARL

CUT TO: GROUP SHOT AS ALL THE CHINESE MEN PRESENT WHIP OUT THEIR EYEGLASSES AND PUT THEM ON - THEY ARE ALL IDENTICAL, BLACK HORN-RIMMED GLASSES

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR. DAY. STREET IN FRONT OF A SKYSCRAPER.

INTERPRETER #2 IS ESCORTING MR RUBE TO A WAITING LIMOUSINE

INTERPRETER #2: (bowing) I leave you now, but this limo will take you to headquarters across town where you will meet with our CEO. You will share the limo with our Vice President of Marketing, Mr. Ling. And my colleague will translate for you now.

MR LING AND TRANSLATOR #3 APPEAR AS INTERPRETER #2 TAKES HIS LEAVE

MR LING: (grabbing MR RUBE’S hand and pumping it furiously with a wide grin)

Egano. Kotabawa. Tsokaitoke.

MR RUBE TOUCHES HIS HAIR WITH A SMILE AND THEN FINGERS HIS EYEGLASSES

INTERPRETER #3:

He says that is a very beautiful tie. Is it Hermes?

MR RUBE:

Ah, er... Well, no, this is a humble Pierre Cardin... But, um, thanks. And your tie is so very... eye catching...

INTERPRETER #3 TRANSLATES AS WE:

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP OF MR LING, WEARING THE SAME BLACK TIE EVERYONE ELSE EXCEPT MR RUBE HAS BEEN WEARING. MR LING’S SMILE TURNS TO A LOOK OF CONTEMPT AS MR RUBE TURNS AWAY TO CLIMB INTO THE LIMO

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. LIMO. PROCESS SHOTS SHOW PASSING BUILDINGS AND TRAFFIC THROUGH THE WINDOWS

MR RUBE: (to INTERPRETER #3)

Uh, I heard that same greeting from others but I was told that they were complimenting my hair and my eyeglasses...

INTERPRETER #3: (clearly bullshitting, though MR RUBE doesn’t catch on)

In Chinese, the same words can mean different things. It depends how you accentuate the syllables...

MR RUBE: (smiling, feeling proud to have learned a new cultural tidbit)

Oh, I see!

CUT TO:

INTERIOR. PLUSH OFFICE. THE CEO SITS AT A DESK FLANKED BY A HALF DOZEN LETHAL LOOKING SECURITY GUYS IN BLACK SUITS AND SUNGLASSES.

MR RUBE ENTERS WITH INTERPRETER #3 and MR LING

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP OF MR RUBE AS HIS EYE FALLS ON THE CEO

CUT TO:

THE CEO AT HIS DESK. HIS HAIR IS GLOSSY, HIS EYEGLASSES ARE STYLISH, AND HE WEARS A TASTEFUL, COLORFUL TIE.

CUT TO:

MR RUBE, DELIGHTED.

INTERPRETER #3: (off screen as we hold on MR RUBE)

This is our CEO, Mr. Kao.

(v/o: MR. RUBE’S THOUGHTS:)

//This is wonderful! Mr. Kao has beautiful hair, stylish eyeglasses, and gorgeous tie. No matter how I stress the syllables, the new phrase I learned is sure to please him!//

CUT TO: GROUP SHOT

MR RUBE: (stepping forward with an extended hand)

Egano. Kotabawa. Tsokaitoke.

(SUBTITLES APPEAR: "CONTEMPTIBLE DOG! WE SPURN YOU AND YOUR LYING HALF WITTED ANCESTORS!")

CUT TO:

MR LING, LOOKING SHOCKED AND ENRAGED

CUT TO:

MR RUBE, SUDDENLY WORRIED

CUT TO:

TRANSLATOR #3, STARTING TO SAY SOMETHING AND THEN HURRYING FROM THE ROOM

CUT TO:

MR LING, SHOWING BARED TEETH

CUT TO:

MR RUBE, WHO HAS JUST GLANCED AT MR LING, AND NOW LOOKS TERRIFIED

CUT TO:

THE CEO, LEAPING TO HIS FEET AND THUMPING HIS DESK

THE CEO: (spittle flying, addressing his security goons in Chinese)

SUBTITLES APPEAR: "EXECUTE THIS SORRY ASS WESTERN DEVIL! BUT TORTURE HIM IN RANCID BOILING OIL FIRST!")

CUT TO:

MR RUBE, AS SECURITY GUYS SEIZE HIM

MR RUBE: (trying to salvage the situation)

Uh, that is, I mean to say... Oh, Mr. Kao, your tie is just so...

(REALIZING HE’S BEEN DUPED BY HIS INTERPRETERS)

Ahhh, shit!

END

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Epilogue: "Audience Response"

AXEL: Yeah, like I was saying dude, don’t quit your day job.

YOUR HUMBLE COLUMNIST: Thanks a lot, Axel. Now I’m gonna have to give up still more column inches to placate him.

DIETER: Huh. Tough room.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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