THE FUNNY SKETCH
alex bernstein

Scene:  Entranceway of an immense Victorian mansion.  There is a large scoreboard, which reads:  US and THEM.  BISQUIK, an ancient butler with a whistle around his neck, answers the door.  RAWLINS, dapper, roguish, enters.

RAWLINS
Hello, Bisquik!  (addressing audience) Well!  Look at the size of that one!

BISQUIK
Madame!  Mr. Kee-Ko-Keddy-Qua-Triple-Dring-Dram-Drop-Glop-Gliddy-Glo-Glum-Bertrand Rawlins.  The third. Esquire.
(Rawlins throws him a glance)
Funniest Man Alive.

MADAME SPIRITGUM, obese yet elegant, enters. 

MADAME
Rawlins!  Funniest Man Alive!

RAWLINS
Dame Ingrid Spiritgum - Funniest Woman Alive and lovely as always.  I see you have a nice little audience.

MADAME
They’re not final.  We’re still renovating.  Shall we begin?

RAWLINS
Madame, barrage me when ready!

MADAME
Rawlins, please begin, or I shall dash you 'cross the floor with the lack of my girth.  That is, I say, with the lack of my girth...

BISQUIK
Madame…ehm…how much girth do you lack?

MADAME
A good question.  In fact - I lack such girth, that when I sit around the house, I don’t!

Audience members rustle, groan.  Bisquik blows the whistle, scores a point for US.

RAWLINS
Ahem.  A pig has a wooden leg.  Don’t eat it all at once!
            (audience remains silent)
Ah ha ha.  Don’t eat it all at once.  Don’t!  Don't eat that pig! 

Someone coughs.  Bisquik scores a point for THEM.

MADAME
Well!  I've had many epidermal reconstructions -

RAWLINS
Though perhaps not as many as required - !

BISQUIK
(throwing up a kerchief)
Penalty.  Heckling. 

MADAME
I say!  I've had so many epidermal reconstructions, were I to continue, I would simply blow away!

Nothing.  Bisquik scores one for US, anyway. 

RAWLINS
I am a child, schooling, and talk heartily to my friends.  When the teacher - an elderly codge - inquires to our tittering I quickly declare, “Sir, I have a dysfunction!” 

A CHILD in the audience starts crying and is removed.   Bisquik, reluctantly, scores one for THEM. 

MADAME
My chef’s cooking is ghastly -
            (nothing.  Madame stomps her foot)
My chef’s cooking is ghastly!

BISQUIK
Oh - oh - uhm - how ghastly?

RAWLINS
God!  That you'd have to live without your servants!  How ghastly?  How much girth do you lack?  Oh, the excess of the comedically rich!

BISQUIK
Shall I withdraw, Madame?

MADAME
No, no, Bisquik.  But please refrain from answering all propositions.

BISQUIK
Very good, Madame.       
    

MADAME
Ahem.  Ahem.  My chef’s cooking is - ghastly - !
(nothing)
I say - my chef’s cooking is quite ghastly!
        (no response)
I say, MY CHEF’S COOKING IS GHASTLY!  PLEASE!  AWFULLY, AWFULLY -

EXHAUSTED
AUDIENCE MEMBER
To what extent is it ghastly?

MADAME
Pretty damn ghastly! 
                                 (trouncing around the room)
Huzzah!  Huzzah! 

Bisquik gives her a point.

RAWLINS
That’s the jest, then?

MADAME
Better than your dysfunction!  Oh, Rawlins, it's no good!  We’re too evenly matched!  What shall we do? 

RAWLINS
Right.  Thirty more jokes apiece - whoever’s ahead -

The audience GASPS.  A bloodcurdling SCREAM is heard. 

BISQUIK
Madame - has it occurred to either of you that - well - uhm - that neither of you is funny?

RAWLINS
Come again?

MADAME
Not funny?

RAWLINS
Not funny, you say?  Is that right?

MADAME
He said - I believe he said - not funny.

RAWLINS
Not funny!

MADAME
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!  That's rich!!

RAWLINS
HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!  Not funny!  Not funny! 

MADAME
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA - Oh that's good!  that's wonderful!

RAWLINS
HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!  Bisquik - old boy - you really must compete! 
            (controlling himself)
So - so - so - seriously - I mean - of course we’re funny!  Just look at this -
            (looking at audience for first time) 
Oh no.

BISQUIK
You see?  You trick these poor cretins into watching you and then maim them with your lack of wit.    

RAWLINS
Not…not...funny?

BISQUIK
I'm afraid not, sir. 

RAWLINS
Slightly…comical?  Diverting?  Foolish?  Wait!    Wait!  What’s that?! 
            (tripping over himself and falling)
Two - two priests - no - a priest and a policeman - a priest - and - and - I can’t remember!!  Oh God!  Oh God!  I’m not funny!

MADAME
Rawlins!  Of course you’re funny! 

BISQUIK
You’re hysterical, sir.  A laugh riot.

Rawlins crouches behind Madame’s legs, cowering.

MADAME
Poor Rawlins.  You’d better go sleep it off.

RAWLINS
Yes - yes - all for the best -

MADAME
We'll start again next week. 

RAWLINS
No!  No!  You've won!  Fair and square!  You earned it!

MADAME
Well…alright.  But do take care!  You seem quite strained.

RAWLINS
(crawling to the door)
Thank you!  You're too kind.  Two pygmies - no - a pygmy and a goat - no -

He exits.  Madame turns to Bisquik.  They high-five and she dances around the room.  Bisquik opens a bottle of champagne.

BISQUIK
Good show, Madame! 

MADAME
Bisquik, you're a scream!  Not funny!  I almost believed you!

BISQUIK
Yes, well…

Suddenly, Rawlins re-enters, still shaking.

RAWLINS
Sorry - I forgot my - Say - ! 

BISQUIK
Oh shit. 

BLACKOUT

 

 

Alex Bernstein is a New Jersey-based freelance writer. His work has appeared at The Rumpus, Yankee Pot Roast, WordRiot, The Legendary, and PopImage among others, and will appear in October in The Big Jewel. Please visit him at www.promonmars.com.