Saturday, October 24, 2009

How Comedy Began: A Play in One Act

Cast of characters: Caveman 1, Caveman 2.

Caveman 2 sits cross-legged on the ground in front of his cave, devouring a bloody piece of raw meat with grunts of satisfaction. He wears ragged animal skins, after the manner of Alley Oop. Caveman 1 runs on stage from the left, wearing similar skins. He starts to talk before coming to a halt in front of Caveman 2.

CAVEMAN 1. [excitedly] Hey, your mate’s just been eaten by a saber-tooth tiger!

CAVEMAN 2. Oh my gods!

CAVEMAN 1. Take it easy, It didn’t really happen. She’s okay.

CAVEMAN 2. Then why the hell did you say it happened?

CAVEMAN 1. It seemed … I don’t know. It made me feel pleasantly odd to say something without regard for its truth.

CAVEMAN 2. It made you feel pleasantly odd! What the hell kind of a reason is that to say something?

CAVEMAN 1. You try it. You’ll see what I mean.

CAVEMAN 2. Sounds crazy, but okay … Hey, antelopes do not exist!

CAVEMAN 1. [rolls his eyes upward and cocks his head in introspection] It didn’t seem to work that time. Try another one.

CAVEMAN 2. Look at me! I'm eating stones!

CAVEMAN 1. [after introspection] I think I felt a twinge that time. Did you feel something?

CAVEMAN 2. I didn’t feel anything. This is totally crazy!

CAVEMAN 1. Let’s try it just once more. Why don’t you say a whole bunch of things—maybe one of them will hit the mark. But leave the “hey” in—I have a hunch that it helps.

CAVEMAN 2. Hey, it's night time! Hey, I have three legs! Hey, the Great Turtle doesn’t protect us from the evil River Spirits!

CAVEMAN 1. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

CAVEMAN 2. I have an idea. Hey, your mate’s just been eaten by a saber-tooth tiger!

CAVEMAN 1. Now that's very strange. It didn't work at all this time. It must be how you tell it.

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