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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Satire Sketch

EU OFFICIALS SUMMONED TO MOUNT OLYMPUS

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

After an all-day session hammering out the latest economic rescue proposal for Greece, if you could call a take or leave it deal a proposal, the meeting adjourned. The underlings leave the room, leaving only those who really matter: the Presidents of the European Council (‘TUSK’), the European Commission (‘JUNCKER’) and the European Central Bank (‘DRAGHI’), as well as the President of France (‘HOLLAND’) and the Chancellor of Germany (‘MERKEL’). It is late but many restaurants are still open—though only a few suitable to the standards of the esteemed group. It is ironic that the one they end up at is a Greek restaurant, fortunately one with a Michelin rating—only two stars, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. The ensemble in elegant dress enters the restaurant where they fit in seamlessly with the other expensively dressed patrons and are ushered into one of the restaurant’s elegant private dining rooms.

Appropriate to their status, the meal commences with French champagne, followed by a choice of several house specialties: Roasted figs stuffed with feta cheese; Santorini Fava, with caramelised onions and black truffle vinaigrette, encircled with grilled octopus slices; Greek lamb quince stew; Fried sardines; and finally desert, Yogurt mouse with sour cherry preserves. Later, an after dinner aperitif—a sweet light wine with a unique but pleasant taste—is served by a surly waiter with unruly hair in a uniform that he must have borrowed from someone else. His eyes seem to radiate malice as he quickly refills their glasses. Unknown to them, and in spite of the rules that make it virtually impossible to fire employees of the European Union, he is the only employee known to have been fired by the EU. The effects of the aperitif are quickly realised as the diners motions slow; their speech slurs as they fall asleep in their chairs. They will eventually awaken, only to find themselves at a distant location.

A short time later the BUS DRIVER looks at his watch, then at the ancient Mercedes bus, one he had never seen or driven before. It was from another era, evidenced by its short stubby length and two-toned finish of blue and white (or was it once crème), or what was left of it. The elements had eaten into the finish, leaving ugly splotches of rust on the sides and top of the vehicle. Still in working order were large round headlights, one on either side of the round Mercedes emblem on the front. The windshield wipers had no doubt once worked, but the BUS DRIVER was not going to test them before he set out. No need to start with a negative omen; it wasn’t supposed to rain anyway.

The BUS DRIVER climbs aboard and counts his passengers—one woman with short hair and four gentlemen, or so they might be described if their manner of dress is any guide. The condition of the interior of the bus is no better than the outside, but the passengers do not notice as all are in a deep sleep. The engine sputters, then starts and the bus moves forward. That’s when the BUS DRIVER notices that there are no outside mirrors.

The bus drives for several hours, passing through a few towns before stopping at Katerini for gas; then it continues onward to Litichoro, the last small village at the foot of Mount Olympus before the journey is interrupted. The old Mercedes bus is travelling at a slow speed, but when it stops suddenly the passengers are thrown forward. Curses in sleepy voices break out in various languages. The bus driver looks through the front window and blows the horn several times without any response. Finally he opens the door, climbs out and approaches an object blocking the road—a wooden bathtub with a man crawled up inside.

DRIVER: What the bloody hell are you doing in the middle of the road?

DIOGENES: Waiting for the bus.

DRIVER: The bus doesn’t stop here.

DIOGNES: It just did.

DRIVER: Get that thing out of the way.

DIOGENES: Help me put it on the top of the bus; I’m going with you.

DRIVER: Certainly not.

DIOGENES: Then I am not moving.

(They stare at each other, neither wanting to budge first, until someone in the bus starts blowing the horn)

DRIVER: Oh, very well.

(DIOGENES crawls out of the tub and places a lamp on the ground. They carry the tub to the back of the bus. The DRIVER climbs up the ladder and DIOGENES hoists the tub up to him. The DRIVER pushes the tub onto the roof of the bus and secures it with a rope)

DRIVER (continuing): I hope you are satisfied.

DIOGENES: I will give you a good rating if you have a passenger satisfaction survey to fill out.

DRIVER: Do you realise that we are now behind schedule; there are some very important people on the bus.

DIOGENES: No doubt they think they are.

(DIOGENES gets on the bus and walks to the back, swinging his lamp to get a look at the weary passengers. The DRIVER jumps in and starts the bus; DIOGNENES falls into a seat as the bus lurches forward. The passengers doze off as the bus continues its long journey in the darkness along a narrow road that slowly winds its way up the mountain until it reaches Prionia, where the road ends)

DRIVER: All change please. Mind the gap.

(MERKEL gets off the bus while the others slowly wake up, wondering how they ended up on a bus)

DIOGENES: Are you bozos going to stay here all night?

(The DRIVER hits the horn a few times to wake up the stragglers)

HOLLAND: Who is that rude bum in the back of the bus?

DIOGENES: I am Diogenes, often called ‘Diogenes the Dog.’

HOLLAND: No wonder. You could use a bath and a haircut.

BUS DRIVER (from the front of the bus): Hey, no comments about haircuts.

DIOGENES: I lead a simple life. At least I don’t spend 10,000 euros a month on haircuts, not that your stylist has much to work with.

HOLLAND: It’s only 9,895 euros.

(One by one the remaining passengers get off the bus and look around, shivering in the cold)

TUSK: Where are we going?

DIOGENES: I thought that you knew everything, especially what is best for others.

TUSK: I wasn’t talking to you.

DIOGENES: Were you talking to yourself? If you were, I can recommend a good book on the subject.

(TUSK walks away from DIOGENES)

DRAGHI: What’s that awful smell?

DIOGENES: Don’t look at me,

(A LARGE MAN in a sheepskin coat and a cigarette dangling from his lips approaches, followed by several donkeys)

JUNCKER: I demand to know what’s going on.

LARGE MAN: All aboard. Mount up.

(The group looks around, puzzled and uncertain about what to do)

LARGE MAN: You can either ride or walk, but the mountain gets a bit sleep and sometimes the rocks loosen and fall. You are lucky because the donkeys usually haul supplies, not people.

JUNCKER: I am going nowhere.

LARGE MAN: You’re already there—nowhere. If you stay here you will freeze to death by morning.

BUS DRIVER: That would be a big loss, wouldn’t it?

(The BUS DRIVER takes off his cap and JUNCKER realises that he is looking at BORIS JOHNSON)

JUNCKER: It’s you.

BORIS JOHNSON: Sorry I can’t continue on with you. Maybe we can meet for tea next time you are in London.

(JUNCKER turns away and looks around. Although it is still dark, he realises that there is nothing for hundreds of kilometres and reluctantly mounts a donkey)

LARGE MAN (to DIOGENES): You going to walk?

DIOGENES: These well-fed bureaucrats must weigh more than the donkeys.

LARGE MAN: Don’t concern yourself about the donkeys. They usually carry much heavier loads.

DIOGENES (to MERKEL): I understand that you like hiking. Care to join me?

MERKEL (climbing onto a donkey): Not in these shoes.

(The next day the morning sun is slowly rising above the mist as the passengers begin to awaken in their new surroundings, feeling sore and stiff, wondering where the hell they are)

MERKEL (turning over): Who kicked me?

HOLLAND: It wasn’t me.

(They look around and realise that they have been asleep all night in a makeshift barn, together with the donkeys; the one next to MERKEL gets to its feet and moves away. They all fully awaken in response to a loud blast from a trumpet)

DIOGENES: Rise and shine. Today is your big day.

TUSK: What’s he talking about?

DIOGENES: Were you speaking to me?

(TUSK turns away from DIOGENES. The trumpet sounds again as a STABLE GROOM enters, dressed like a race track jockey in black cap, red jacket and white pants)

STABLE GROON: Sorry we can’t offer you a shower. This will have to do.

(He dusts off the straw with a whisk broom as they object. HOLLAND adjusts his glasses and brushes his hair back with his hands. MERKEL touches up her hair)

STABLE GROOM: This way, if you please.

(He leads them up to the Pantheon, the highest peak on Mount Olympus, nowadays more commonly known as Mytikas.  At the entrance of a courtyard they are welcomed by HERMES, god of travellers and hospitality, as well as thievery and other things. Inside, on a large gold throne at the far end sits ZEUS, surrounded by the other Olympians. The mist makes it appear as though they are suspended on a cloud; perhaps they are. The puzzled travellers walk forward and come to a halt)

HOLLAND: What is this—some kind of Greek theatre?

MERKEL: Maybe a Hollywood movie set.

DRAGHI: No, they are wearing Greek costumes.

DIOGENES: Don’t you fools know where you are?

HERMES (to the uninformed): You are on Mount Olympus—in the presence of the twelve Olympians.

(A thunderbolt strikes the ground, and the assembled group jumps)

ZEUS: I see that I now have everyone’s attention. MINISTER, you may present your case.

JUNCKER: What’s the meaning of this?

ZEUS: Silence, mortal.

(ZEUS throws his hand forward and a thunderbolt lands at JUNCKER’s feet)

FINANCE MINISTER: The bailout and austerity measures that have been imposed on the Greek people by the EU have caused widespread suffering, economic hardship and social unrest. The billions provided by this so called ‘rescue plan’ have gone 95% to the European banks.

TUSK (to ZEUS): You have no authority over the European Union.

DRAGHI: I say we leave.

(ZEUS shoots repeated thunderbolts at the feet of JUNCKER, TUSK and DRAGHI. They jump each time and their motion is similar to bullet dancing—shooting close to a victim’s feet—in an old western movie.

DIOGENES: I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.

(The thunderbolts stop and JUNCKER, TUSK and DRAGHI compose themselves)

DIOGENES: You are all fools, suffering from ‘endemic tower phobia.’

FINANCE MINISTER: That’s a new one on me. What does it mean?

DIOGENES:  It is a psychological condition that starts each morning during the chauffeur-driven ride by a high-level bureaucrat, most often unelected, to an expensively furnished office in a modern skyscraper that often reaches above the clouds. The condition accelerates faster for those who reach the top floor in a private non-stop elevator in less than sixty seconds. Once seated behind a desk that would have been the envy of the mighty ZEUS …

ZEUS: What’s that?

(DIOGENE’s explanation is interrupted by a loud thunderbolt)

DIOGENES: Begging your pardon, mighty ZEUS. I meant to say King Farouk.

FINANCE MINISTER (to DIOGENES): You were saying …

DIOGENES: Once seated behind a typically gold inlayed desk, the high atmosphere causes the close fitting tailor-made suits of these know-it-all big shots to compress, forcing pressure upwards into their heads, which then swell with self-importance.

FINANCE MINISTER: That explains a lot about dealing with the European Council, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

JUNCKER: I’m not going to listen to any more of this.

DRAGHI: Nor am I.

TUSK: I didn’t come here to be insulted; in fact, I didn’t even ask to come here at all.

(ZEUS sends thunderbolts that barely miss the trio’s shoes)

ZEUS: One more peep out of you overpaid bureaucrats and the next thunderbolt will make those expensive shoes into open-toed ones.

(Another thunderbolt is shot as a warning)

ZEUS (to FINANCE MINISTER): You may proceed.

MERKEL (to the others): It’s not just a bad dream, is it?

THE END

Satire Sketch

ALL ABOARD – Last Bus to Canada

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

(The hallway of the office building is lined on both sides with folding chairs as far as the eye can see; not one seat is empty as the occupants nervously await their turn. A desk has been placed at the end of the hallway, occupied by the bored RECEPTIONIST who is nevertheless busy at work—polishing her nails)

RECEPTIONIST:  Next—number 293.

(Number 293 approaches the RECEPTIONIST, hands her a card with the number on it)

RECEPTIONIST:  You can go in now, Mr. Smith.

ALAN SMITHEE:  My name is Smithee, not Smith.

RECEPTIONIST:  Whatever.

(ALAN SMITHEE opens the door and enters a room with a large wooden desk decorated with an overflowing in-box stacked with applications. Behind it sits a friendly well-fed man in his sixties, wearing a dark pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and solid yellow necktie. He adjusts his cuff links as he motions for ALAN SMITHEE to sit in the chair in front of the desk)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I can only give you ten minutes.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I have been waiting for over two hours.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I am sorry about that Mr. Smith, but we have 4,000 positions to fill.

ALAN SMITHEE:  It’s Smithee, not Smith.

CHIEF OF STAFF: Name sounds familiar—Alan Smithee—can’t quite place it. Have we met before?

ALAN SMITHEE:  No.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I know I’ve heard that name before.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Many years ago, Hollywood directors who wanted to avoid being named as the director of a film they were unhappy with used a pseudonym, which most often was ‘Alan Smithee.’

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Oh, so you are a movie director?

ALAN SMITHEE:  No.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Then it’s your real name?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Not at all. I just want to remain anonymous.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Anonymous! How can we hire you if we don’t know your name?

ALAN SMITHEE:  I am not here about a job. I have a plan to get the President-elect off to a good start.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Why don’t you send it to me in writing and I will have someone take a look at it.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF writes an email address on the back of a business card and hands it to ALAN SMITHEE)

ALAN SMITHEE:  I can’t do that, I want to remain anonymous.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, then, I don’t think I can help you.

ALAN SMITHEE:  It’s a question of helping the President-elect, not me. I have a plan to make a goodwill gesture to those who did not vote for the President-elect, unite the country and start rebuilding the infrastructure immediately, all in one step.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  It sounds very noble, but I don’t have time right now to listen to something that involved.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I can explain it very quickly—you said you would give me ten minutes.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF looks at his watch and nods affirmatively)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  OK, you have five more minutes.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Thank you, you won’t be sorry.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Let’s hear it.

ALAN SMITHEE:  First, California did not vote for the President-elect, so a goodwill gesture would be to start rebuilding the infrastructure in Southern California.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Why there?

ALAN SMITHEE:  That’s where Hollywood is.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m sure that must make sense, but the reasoning escapes me for the moment.

ALAN SMITHEE:  That is because the Hollywood community is quite depressed about the election results. Several psychologists and therapists have reported that many of their clients, who are always under extreme pressure anyway, are sinking into depression. That may indirectly cause the population to become depressed and negative.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I don’t see the connection.

ALAN SMITHEE:  These are the people who produce our motion pictures and TV shows, constantly being watched by millions, especially with streaming these days.  What would the mood be if they were suddenly faced with watching only sombre, depressing movies and TV shows?

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I see your point.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Good.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  But how is starting to rebuild the infrastructure in Southern California going to help?

ALAN SMITHEE:  You start by rebuilding the highways from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Vancouver?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Well, of course you would stop at the US border.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Obviously.

ALAN SMITHEE:  You might even repair a few bridges along the way, and make detours here and there to avoid any ‘Christmas tree’ for sale signs when you go through the wooded areas of Oregon and Washington.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You are talking about a project that spans California, Oregon and Washington. How is all of this going to raise the mood in Hollywood?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Many of them threatened to move to Canada if their candidate lost.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  If they do, they will fly.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Not at all. They can be shamed into not flying in their private jets or driving in their gas guzzling Hummers.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Hmm.

ALAN SMITHEE:  The government can offer free transportation on Greyhound buses, praising how these passengers are helping the environment by not using their private planes.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Are these people used to riding the bus?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Musicians often tour the country on luxury buses; movie stars stay on location in luxury trailers. The Greyhound buses can be spruced up to add some luxury and they will be travelling on new highways.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Even so, it would be a very long ride.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I have a solution for that.

(The CHIEF OF STAFF looks sceptical, but remains interested)

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m listening.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Local employment can be increased by building comfortable rest stops along the way, maybe spaced two or three hours apart. They could be decorated with posters from Hollywood films and directors’ chairs, with the latest editions of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter available. Perhaps offer fresh mountain spring water and vegan appetisers free of charge.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  I’m not convinced yet. We’re still talking about a long ride for a bunch of depressed people in a small space.

ALAN SMITHEE:  You haven’t heard the best part yet.

CHIEF OF STAFF: Tell me.

ALAN SMITHEE:  Each rest stop will have a specially designed room, with soft music, comfortable chairs and a long leather couch.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  What’s the couch for?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Each rest stop will be manned by a free psychiatrist or analyst—more employment.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  That’s fine, but it will slow down the trip if too many of them need a consultation at a particular stop.

ALAN SMITHEE:  I don’t think that will be a problem because the rest stops will not be placed that far apart.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Anything else?

ALAN SMITHEE:  Yes. Each rest stop will have a drive-through window for those who prefer driving their own car instead of taking the bus.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You seem to have thought of everything.

ALAN SMITHEE:  The only problem is if too many of them try to move to Canada.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  You mean the cost might escalate.

ALAN SMITHEE:  No, Canada might build a wall.

 THE END

All aboard. Last bus to Canada.

      All aboard