Anthology of Comedy by T. J. Hartung

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

(The stage has a single microphone with a single spotlight off to one side where the Announcer will stand and speak. The opposite side of the stage will be 2 microphones with appropriate lighting for the other performers. At the end of each routine there is a Blackout – followed by the single spotlight for the announcer.)

Announcer: Ladies and jelly spoons, hobos and tramps, Cross-eyed mosquitoes and bow-legged ants.

I come before you to stand behind you and tell you a story I know nothing about.
Please take a seat, and sit on the floor. Admission is free, (beat) just pay at the door.

One bright day in the middle of the night, two dead boys got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other. A deaf policeman heard the noise, ran up and killed the two dead boys. (pause) If you don't believe this tale is true, just ask the blind man, (beat) he saw it too.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to “Anthology of Comedy”, where we will entertain you with some of the best comedy routines ever conceived, by some of the greatest comedic geniuses in the world.

.- - - -

Announcer: With his unique and appealing blend of music and comedy, he was known affectionately as "The Clown Prince of Denmark". He would play a strange-sounding tune from sheet music, looking increasingly confused. He would then turn the sheet upside down, and would then play the actual tune, flashing a smile to the audience. He wrote and performed several comedy routines, such as “Phonetic Punctuation” and this one: “Inflationary Language”. Ladies and gentlemen – Victor Borge.

Victor: In this world we live in, we have inflation. I’m sure you are familiar with it. The numbers on price tags go up. What if the numbers in words were to do the same thing? There are numbers hidden in the words we speak; such as wonderful, before, create, and tenderly. All of these numbers in words could be inflated, to keep up with the economy. What would happen if we added one to each of these numbers? Wonderful would become two-derful; before would become be-five, create becomes cre-nine; tenderly becomes eleven-derly, etc. For example: the sentence “I ate a tenderloin with my fork,” becomes “I nined an eleven-derloin with my five- k”. (beat) and so on and so fifth. Any two for eleven-is? I have a story I’d like to read, so that you get an idea of what inflationary language sounds like when it’s being used. “Twice upon a time, there was a boy named Bob who adored his one and a half sister ever since she saw the light of day for the second time. They were both proud of the fact that 2 of their five-fathers had been among the cre-nine-ders of the US Consti-three-shion. They were dining on the terrace when Bob said, “Anna, you look two-derful three-night. You never looked this lovely befive.” Anna looked two-derful in spite of the illness from which she had not completed recuper-nine-ded.

“Yes,” repeated Bob, “You look Two-derful three-nite, but you have three of the saddest eyes I’ve even seen.” The table was tastefully décor-nine-ded with Anna’s favorite flowers – Three-lips. They talked about Anna’s assi-ten husband, from whom she was separ-nine-ded. On the radio, an Irish eleven- or sang “Tea for Three”. It was midnight. A clock in the distance struck thirteen. When suddenly in the moonlight, there stood her husband Don-two. He was obviously intoxica-nine-ded. “Anna” he blurted, “Five-give me. I’m only young twice, and you are my two and only. Bob jumped to his feet. “Get out of here you three faced triple-crosser.” But Anna warned, “Watch out Bob, he’s an officer, a lieu-eleven-ent in the army” “Yes, he’s two, but I’m two, three,” replied Bob. “All right,” said Don-two as he wiped his fivehead, He then left, but as he was one-and –half way thru the door, he mumbled “I’m going back to Eleven-essee, three be two with nature again. Three-da-lu, Anna, Three-da-lu.”

.- - - -

Announcer: Comedian Don Novello found his comedic niche when he purchased an outfit consisting of big floppy black hat, awhite clerical collar, and a long, red-trimmed black coat with a cape for $7.50 at a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. This was the start of a multi-year career in which he appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the Smothers Brothers TV show, and Saturday Night Live as the fictional character Father Guido Sarducci. Here is Father Sarducci doing a skit from his first appearance on Saturday Night Live, called "How to Pay for Your Sins"
Father Guido Sarducci: (Italian accent) Whata we used ta think was that whena you die, the soul leaves the body, kinda likea little bubble ina 7-Up. Ya know (motions with one finger upward). Justa goes shootin upa there. And we usta think there was different levels in Heaven. Depending on how holy you are, the lighter the soul is. So if you’re real good, a very very nice-a person, you can go way, way upa high, and there’s God and other nice-a people like yourself. And-a if you’re a really, really bad-a person, your soul might-a raise maybe 4 feet. (Gestures about 4 feet up) You might just spend eternity hanging around a grill at a cheap restaurant. And that’s-a forever. I know some priests say forever and ever. I really don’t think-a “and ever” is necessary. “Forever” kinda covers it. Forever means forever. Whadda you want? Forever. Well, we found-a out that’s not true. There are no levels in heaven. We found out-a the truth from something called the facts-imal letter. Happened in 1917. There was-a this miracle in Portugal. And-a these 3 little Portugese-a kids, they was-a given this-a letter, and they was-a told ‘Give this letter to the Pope, and tell him “Don’t open this until 1960”’. What-a it was-a about was-a the secret of life. What happens to you when you die, all that stuff. And what it said, right at the top, in big capital letters, was “Vita Est a Officium”. That means: “life is a job.” Ya know, ya think life is so hard, so difficult, most of the time. Because it’s a job. What-a you want, it’s just work. That’s what it’s about. And it says that we’ll get paid $14.50 a day. That’s our wages - $14.50 a day. And what happens to you when you die. The soul does leave the body, and you see yourself-a going down a long, long, long dark tunnel, and your whole life flashes before you. From the day you were born to the day you die. Then, you come-a to the end of the tunnel, and God is there waiting for you. Then, He looks you straight in the eye – then – he pays you. You see, He knows you was coming. He’s like psychic. He knows-a everything. And He’s figured it up all in advance. $14.50 times the number-a days you was-a living. And He gives you all of this money and you’ve got all of this-a money in front of you. Then – He starts going over your sins, and you have to pay for your sins. Maybe you’ve heard-a that expression. You have to pay for your sins, At’s-a the truth. We do have to pay for our sins. In cash. It’s a cash-a deal. It’s like, maybe when you was a little kid, and you stole a bag of potato chips, that might-a be like a 6 dollar fine. You gotta give Him back 6 dollars. Lying. Every time you lie – 10 dollars. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Just-a shell it out. Every single lie – ten dollars. Ten. Murder. Murder, that’s the worst one. One Hundred thousand dollars. Masturbation. (pause) Ah don’t know. (pause, with a pained look) 25, maybe 35 – cents would be my guess. That’s a cheap-a sin. But it can-a mount up over a period of time. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Thirty-five. Well, if you have enough money to pay off all your sins, then, you get to go to heaven. But, if you don’t have enough, then you have to go back and be born again. It’s kinda like going back to work after a little vacation. Some really bad people, like-a mafiosa types, they have to spend 4 or 5 life-times as nuns just-a making up-a for it. I don’t know if you know this, but most nuns are former mafiosas.

.- - - -

Announcer: Bill Dana's career took a major turn when he began writing stand-up routines for the young comedian Don Adams, including the now well-known "Would you believe?" jokes popularized by the TV show Get Smart. He also helped launch the careers of comedy greats such as Jackie Mason, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors. His best known role, as astronaut “Josè
Jimenez”, resulted in him being adopted by the Mercury Seven team, The first words from planet Earth spoken to Alan Shepard, America's first man in space, were "O.K. José, you're on your way!" A typical interview went like this:
(Josè speaks with a Puerto Rican accent)
Ed: The man you are about to meet could possibly be the most important man in any of our lives. He is the United States Air Force officer who has been chosen to be the first man send into outer space. I’m referring to the chief astronaut with the United States Interplanetary Expeditionary Force. And here he is now. How do you do sir, may we have your name.
Jose: My name — Josè Jimenez
Ed: You’re the chief astronaut with the United States Interplanetary Expeditionary Force?
Jose: I’m the chief astronaut with the United States Interplan –a — My name — Josè Jimenez
Ed: Mr. Jimenez, can you tell us a little about your space suit.
Jose: It’s very uncomfortable.
Ed: How much does the space suit cost?
Jose: The space suit costs $18,000 dollars.
Ed: That seems rather expensive
Jose: Well, it has 2 pair of pants. That’s only 9,000 a pair.
Ed: And the thing you wear on your head. What is it called, a crash helmet?
Jose: Oh, I hope not.
Ed: What are the physical qualities that they look for in an astronaut?
Jose: Physical qualities they look for in an astronaut - You gotta have the perfect hearing, You gotta have the perfect vision. You gotta have normal blood pressure. You gotta have 4 legs.
Ed: You gotta have 4 legs?
Jose: Yeah. They were gonna send a dog, but they thought that would be too cruel.
Ed: Mr. Jimenez, you must have some opinions on the race for space.
Jose: All right – I will. (pause) All right, I got one.
Ed: What do you think of Vanguard One and Jupiter Two
Jose: That was a pretty close game. (pause) I thought for sure that Vanguard was gonna take it.
Ed: Tell me Josè...
Jose: I’ll tell you Josè.
Ed: Tell me
Jose: Yes. I’ll tell you. Keep asking me and I’ll tell you.
Ed: Were you a participant at any of the rocket launchings at Cape Canaveral?
Jose: I was a participant at any of the rocket launchings at Cape Canaveral. I was there when they opened the door into the nose cone, and they took that mouse, and they put that mouse inside the nose cone, then, they closed the door, on that little mouse. (pause) I don’t wanna talk about it.
Ed: Please, Mr. Jimenez, please. Let’s continue here. I wanna ask you – what do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?
Jose: To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off.
Ed: The blast-off.
Jose: I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise I wouldn't get in that thing.
Ed: Well, after that, what is the procedure in taking off.
Jose: The procedure after that in taking off. You gotta put on the stepped up hydraulic double dynamo reversible boots. You gotta activate the decompression activator. You gotta put on the anti-magnetic degaussing assistant.
Ed: And then you’re really up there?
Jose: No – that opens the door. (pause) And lets out that little mouse.
Ed: Lets talk about the rockets themselves
Jose: Well, I had a problem once with one of the rockets.
Ed: At Cape Canaveral?
Jose: No, at Radio City Music Hall. (pause) Something about separate maintenance.
Ed: Let’s change the subject
Jose: OK! If you know how.
Ed: Lets talk about the actual rocket trip.
Jose: OK
Ed: By the way, did you know that it’s costing the government 7 billion dollars to send you on this trip to outer space?
Jose: That’s not my fault. (pause) I told them I was willing to go tourist. They say ‘it’s such a long trip – go first class.’
Ed: Do you think there will be life on Mars?
Jose: Maybe – If I land on a Saturday night. Something might be happening. Otherwise I’m gonna bring a book.
Ed: That’s something I wanted to ask you about, Mr. Jimenez. It’s a very long trip into outer space.
Jose: Yes, it’s a long trip.
Ed: And I just wondered what you’ll do to entertain yourself during those – long – lonely – solitary – hours, when you’re all by yourself.
Jose: Well – I plan to cry a lot.
Ed: I would image that food is a major problem on a trip into outer space.
Jose: I would image that food is a major problem on a trip into outer space. And it is you know. They only allow you to have 10 ounces of food.
Ed: Only 10 ounces of food?
Jose: That’s right!
Ed: Well, how will you manage?
Jose: I’ll eat out
Ed: After you’ve been into space, and you return to earth, where will you be landing?
Jose: I’m going to be landing in Nevada.
Ed: In the state of Nevada.
Jose: In the state of Nevada.
Ed: Then, you’re convinced that they will get you back to Earth.
Jose: I’m convinced that they will get me back to Earth. – Just how far into it.... That’s what I’m not convinced about.
Ed: Surely they’ve made some provisions to break you fall.
Jose: To break my fall?
Ed: Yes
Jose: Sure – Nevada.
Ed: Well, Mr. Jimenez, I think you certainly are to be congratulated for this very dangerous undertaking...
Jose: Oh, don’t say ‘undertaking’.
Ed: ... mission, this very dangerous mission.
Jose: That’s a better choice of words.
Ed: And before you go...
Jose: Don’t even say ‘go’.
Ed: Before that, I just wonder if there are a few words that you’d like to say to the people of the United States.
Jose: Yes, there are a few words that I’d like to say
Ed: Please go ahead.
Jose: People – of the United States of America – Please don’t let them do this to me.

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