Tuesday, June 8, 2010

365 Sketches - RvD Show Tonight!

Tonight RvD will make their contribution to Joe's 365 Sketches festival when we present "A Thing I Wrote" (on a double-bill with "Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Treadmill") starting at 8 p.m. Get your tickets here.

Back in January of this year, as Joe was wrapping up the project, us fine folks at RvD thought we would like to present Joe with a special gift. So in keeping with the spirit of his project, we decided to write a scene about how it all began. We called it "Day Zero."

Here are a few interesting tidbits I thought you might like to hear about before I post the scene below.

  • We wrote this in a round-robin style: one writer started and wrote a beat, then emailed it to the next, and so on. I think this scene feels pretty seamless but you might try to figure out where one beat ends and a new one begins. Even we aren't sure at this point.
  • The opening line of the scene and the closing are more or less what Joe wrote to open scene 1 and close scene 365 of his project.
  • There are a few references here and there to other scenes Joe wrote throughout the year.
  • There is a special guest star, whom I won't reveal here, but it was fun to ridicule them.
  • Yes, Joe is ridiculed endlessly.
  • The "Fearinator" sequence is actually a riff on Joe's post titled "TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD PLEASE STOP DOING IN YOUR SKETCH REVUE - NOW!!!" You should read it. Really.

And so now, without further ado, Robot vs. Dinsaur presents: "365 Sketches - Day Zero." (Please forgive the formatting of this scene as my meager blogging skills could not live up to the task of making it look presentable.)

“365 SKETCHES - DAY ZERO”

Not Written by Joe Janes
1/19/2010
0 of 365

CAST
MR. WILLIAMS
JOE JANES
CRAZY MAN
WOMAN/SUZAN-LORI PARKS
BRET
TAMMY
BOB
TOM
SHERRY
MAN IN A CHICKEN SUIT

(Lights up on Joe Janes in his office cubicle. He is packing stuff from his desk into a cardboard box previously used to store reams of paper. He looks sad. Mr. Williams enters carrying a thick, but not cumbersome, stack of files. The top file is in a very colorful, recognizable folder while the others are a drab manila. As they talk, Mr. Williams is only half-listening as he sits at Joe’s old desk and reads through the files.)

MR. WILLIAMS
Janes?

(Joe bucks up and feigns happiness.)

JOE
Yes, Mr. Williams?

MR.WILLIAMS
How are we doing?

JOE
No complaints, Mr. Williams! This lay off couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It’s the perfect excuse to get out there and do the things I’ve been too busy to do.

MR. WILLIAMS
What will you be doing with your time?

JOE
I--I don’t--

MR. WILLIAMS
You mentioned the things you’ve been too busy to do. Like what?

(Joe is stumped. He looks worried.)

MR. WILLIAMS
Well, not to worry. I’m sure you’ll think of something. Say, here’s an interesting file. “Roger Casey found dead in his home after writing 364th sketch.” You write funny little skits sometimes, don’t you? You ever hear of this guy?

(Joe is still in his own world.)

MR. WILLIAMS
Well this is the fourth pathetic little clown this week who attempted to write a sketch a day for one year that’s been found dead. All of them on Day 364. They should just stop trying. But I suppose you theatre types--resilient spirits and all. Anyway. Say, Joe, I’m very busy today. As a final favor, will you finish these files for me before you go?

JOE
Sure.

MR. WILLIAMS gets up.

MR. WILLIAMS
Well, I guess this is it for us, eh? Look, I’ve, uh, never been good at saying goodbye. So fuck you.

MR. WILLIAMS leaves abruptly. JOE pushes the stack of files onto the floor, sending paper flying everywhere. The colorful folder is still intact and it catches his eye. He opens it and looks inside. It contains:

JOE
A pen, a notepad and a Starbucks gift card? I see what’s going on here. Williams is trying to challenge me! Well, I’ll show that asshole! No one challenges Joe Janes to a possibly death defying task. I can write 365 sketches in a year! Hell, I’ve gone without sex for longer than that.

(We hear a rimshot. Joe pauses, as if he heard it but doesn’t know what it was.)

JOE
I mean, I could really make my mark. I could write 365 sketches, and they would be good sketches too, not cliché ridden crap like everyone else is doing. Hell, it might even get me laid!

(We hear a sad trombone. Joe definitely hears it this time.)

JOE
What is that? Who’s there?

(We hear the Porky Pig ending to Warner Brothers cartoons. (“Ba dee, ba dee, ba dee, that’s all folks”!) And then another comic sound effect.)

JOE
I don’t know what you’re game is, but (he picks up a stapler) I’ve got a gun. Actually, it’s a stapler, because I am against gun violence, but I’m holding it like a gun. And I will not hesitate to staple you. I am not against staple violence.

(A CRAZY MAN enters.)

CRAZY MAN
Okay, okay, I say “PUT THAT STAPLER DOWN!” and then you say “YOU’RE A BAD STAPLER!” (laughs hysterically) Then dick joke, dick joke, dick joke, VAGINA! (laughs hysterically)

JOE
Who the hell are you?

CRAZY MAN
Okay, okay, Who’s on First. What’s on Second. I’M ON THIRD! (Pause) WHO AM I? I SAID WHO AM I?

JOE
I, I don’t know.

CRAZY MAN
GIVE THAT MAN A DOLLAR!

JOE
Who are you?

CRAZY MAN
What is this, A RELATIONSHIP SCENE!? (laughs hysterically) TAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE! (rimshot)

JOE
I think I’m going to call security!

CRAZY MAN
Why did the chicken swim like a duck? Because Violets in Garlic Sauce! (rimshot) But that makes no sense! Soooooo—IT MUST BE A DADA SCENE!

JOE
Look, I don’t—this isn’t quite dada. Dada is actually a cultural movement that began in Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked during--

CRAZY MAN
Hey asshole! I’m the ghost of Roger Casey! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK!

JOE
Listen, I don’t know what’s going on here, but--

CRAZY MAN lunges at JOE, grabbing him around the neck. He rambles.

CRAZY MAN
365! 365! 364 DID THIS TO ME BUT I NEED IT! I NEED 365!

JOE
You’re hurting me!

CRAZY MAN
Something that’ll KILL ‘em! That will leave ‘em ROLLING IN THE AISLES! GIVE IT TO ME!! 365!!

JOE
Help! Somebody help me!

(Suddenly, there’s a bright light upstage. A figure stands in the light.)

WOMAN’S VOICE (O.S)
ROGER CASEY--THE POWER OF PULITZER COMPELS YOU! BACK TO HELL WITH THEE!

(CRAZY MAN lets go and shrinks. He starts to slink off stage. Before he exits--)

CRAZY MAN
Beware 364! Tip your waitress. Try the veal.

(CRAZY MAN holds up an applause sign, waits for applause, then exits. The bright light from upstage is extinguished, revealing a young African American WOMAN with long braided hair.)

WOMAN
Joe Janes, I presume. I love your alliteration.

JOE
What is going on? Who-who are you?

WOMAN
I’m the ghost of Suzan-Lori Parks, MacArthur Foundation “Genius” and Pulitzer Prize winner for my play, Topdog/Underdog.

JOE
But Suzan-Lori Parks isn’t dead. How can you be a ghost?

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks, thank you, and, I’ll be whatever I want. What have you ever won, Joe Janes?

JOE
I won an Emmy once.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Primetime Emmy or Regional Emmy?

JOE
Well, I mean...

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Look, Joe: I’m not here to talk about who won what Genius grant and when – I did, in 2001 – I’m here to talk about the incredible journey you’re about to embark on.

JOE
The lay-off?

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
365! The quest for that glorious number.

JOE
Oh, I don’t know about all that. I’m rethinking the whole thing after the attack of Roger Casey’s ghost.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
It’s very hard to do, Joe, but it can be done. I should know; I did it. 365 Days/365 Plays. But writing 365 of anything is not for the weak of heart.

JOE
Um, I read some of those plays and really, they weren’t very good.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
(Grabbing Joe) Quality doesn’t matter! A lesser writer crumbles at 364! As you’ve seen! But the reward...the reward is great, my friend.

JOE
Getting laid.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
(Looking him up and down.) That’s probably not gonna happen for you BUT there is this: the next time you’re teaching a writing workshop at New York University, and one of your students says ”I have writer’s block,” you can say, ”Writer’s block?! I wrote 365 sketches in 365 days! WRITER’S BLOCK DOESN’T EXIST, ASSHAT!”

JOE
That does sound pretty great. An excuse to use the word “asshat.”

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
First, I need to show you something. Grab on to my braids.

JOE
Where are we going?

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
My secret hideaway, nestled high above the earth in the Himalaya Mountains!

(JOE grabs SUZAN-LORI PARKS’ braids. They are magically transported one way or another to SUZAN-LORI PARKS’ hideaway, which is a simple room in the Himalaya Mountains.)

JOE
Hey, this looks just like the Second City Training Center’s Teachers’ lounge.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
It’s a recreation for your benefit because to be able to conquer 365 sketches you must first be able to transcend all of your fears. In order to have the mental strength to make it to 365 you must go on a soul searching expedition. Through that bathroom door marked “For Faculty Use Only” is what I call “The Fearinator.”

(Joe groans disgustedly.)

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Lay off, it’s tough thinking of clever names. Once you have entered the Fearinator your trial will begin. If you survive the trial you will gain the mental strength required to tackle the task of 365 sketches. If you fail, well, you can still teach. Fare thee well, Joe Janes.

(She motions toward the bathroom door. Joe walks through hesitantly and on the other side is a bare stage. He stands for a moment, but no one is there.)

JOE
Hello? This isn’t so scary. It’s just a bare stage.

(The light suddenly go black and we hear some loud, fun scene change music. We also hear some actors moving chairs and setting a scene. When the lights come up, Joe is standing off to the side. BRET, TAMMY, BOB, TOM and others are seated in chairs and motion toward him.)

TAMMY
Joe! We didn’t think you’d make it! Sherry’s coming up the stairs now.

(JOE seems a little woozy and makes his way over towards the couch. Everyone is quietly talking. Sherry enters. She is wearing a bee-hive wig, torn clothing, and her make-up is a mess.)

SHERRY
What’s going on?

BRET
Sherry, all of your friends and family are here today to help you with your problem.

SHERRY
Problem? I don’t have a problem?

BRET
Sherry, this is an intervention.

JOE
Oh no. Oh dear God no, not an intervention scene!

(As the scene continues JOE becomes more and more exhausted, distraught, disgusted, and gradually weaker.)

BRET
We’re here to help you with your Amy Winehouse-itis. Your friends and family have become very concerned.

SHERRY
So I like to party a little, so what? I’m not hurting anyone. I do not have Amy Winehouse-itis.

JOE
No… the fake celebrity disease trick. My God, I’m stuck in a shitty scene!

TAMMY
Oh Sherry. What went wrong? I know things haven’t been the same since your father died from cancerous AIDS. And sure, we all like to occasionally get our slippery fur-box stuffed full of thick veiny cock, but you’ve taken it too far.

JOE
That’s pointless shock value… uuuuughh…

BOB
I’d like to say something SHIT COCK ASS! Sorry, my Tourette’s acts up when I feel stress. COCK SHIT FUCKLOAD! Sorry. I just hope my Alzheimer’s… where am I? Who are FUCKING SHIT FUCK are you people?

JOE
No… no more…

TOM
Sherry, me and Bret have been getting together every night to try and figure out the best way to help you. We have put in some long, hard nights.

BRET
We sure have Tom. Real looong and haaaaard nights pumping each other for ideas.

TOM
We have emptied our idea juice all over each other trying to figure this out.

JOE
Badly disguised homosexual overtones… please… make it stop!

(Everyone stops and looks at Joe.)

BRET
Joe, wouldn’t you like to say something?

JOE
No… no… this sketch… it’s too horrible!

TAMMY
Come on Joe, you have to participate in the scene.

JOE
Sher… Sherry… Obama’s healthcare reform will give you access to cutting edge treatment, if it ever gets passed. Am I right?

(The whole group laughs.)

BRET
And…..

(JOE can hardly even stand at this point.)

JOE
I can’t… the story is unfinished. It’s all shock and awe…

(Everyone ad libs “C’mon Joe, join in.” “Participate.” “Become one of us.” etc.)

JOE
(Struggling) And . . . another thing Sherry; You going out and . . . getting all messed up is about as foolish as . . . as our invasion of Iraq?

BRET
Nice try, Joe, but I think what you really meant to say was: It’s about as foolish as wearing your PANTS ON THE GROUND!

(The whole group, sans JOE, starts singing. JOE continues to wail and sob and scream.)

EVERYONE
Pants on the ground! Pants on the ground! Call yourself a cool cat, lookin’ like a fool. Walkin! Talkin, with your pants on the ground!

JOE
(over their singing) No! No! Stop it--this is the worst scene ever! Nooooooooooo!

(The lights come down and more loud music kicks in. After a moment, lights up.)

BRET
Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Now we’re going to change things up a bit and do our semi-improv portion of the sketch show.

JOE
Noooooooooo!

(The lights change again as JOE goes running back through the bathroom door. There are a few seconds of weird lights and sounds, like strange laughing and bad improvised lines, dick and fart jokes, and the like. Once Joe makes it through the door the lights come back up. He collapses, out of breath and sobbing.)

JOE
I couldn’t do it! I just couldn’t--fucking hacks!

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
But you survived! You are ready!

JOE
But I didn’t make it to the end of the Fearinator.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Oh, don’t worry, no one ever makes it through the improv portion. It’s only the real sketch comedy writers that are wise enough to leave when that crazy shit starts. So now you are ready.

JOE
Do you really think I can do it?

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Yes. You have it in you. Just avoid cliches, observe your world to get inspired, and if you find yourself getting stuck, write a blackout. Or a relationship scene. You’ll probably write a shit load of those in the coming year.

JOE
Thank you, Suzan-Lori Parks. I’m ready. I am going to explore comic situations and relationships. The fish out of water will be my best friend! My contexts will clash like titans! I am going to write the best 365 sketches the world has ever seen! It’s going to be wonderful!

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Sure, sure, whatever. But listen, Joe, there is one final test.

JOE
What’s that?

(A MAN IN A CHICKEN SUIT enters.)

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
You have to have sex with this man in a chicken suit.

JOE
Why?

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Because we bought a chicken suit and we needed to make use of it.

JOE
But, I don’t want to--

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
(Cuts him off.) For your art, Joe Janes! For your art!

(Joe sighs and makes peace with the fact that he will have to get fucked by a chicken.)

SUZAN-LORI PARKS
Good luck Joe Janes. I would say something funny as I exit, but I’m going to leave that for your rewrite. And I’ve never been good at saying good bye. So fuck you.

(Suzan-Lori Parks grabs her braids and flies herself offstage. Joe stares at the Man In A Chicken Suit for a moment.)

MAN IN A CHICKEN SUIT
Hi, I’m Randy.

JOE
We’re not really going to have sex, are we?

(The Man in the Chicken Suit reaches over and turns on a radio on Joe’s desk. We hear “Let’s Get It On.” He starts dancing at a terrified Joe as lights fade.)

FADE TO BLACK

2 comments:

Joe Janes said...

This scene is actually pretty funny. And look at "things not to stop doing", I think I did at least five of those. More than once.

Chris Othic said...

I think the key is to do all of them in the same scene. They start to cancel each other out.