But The Rope Broke by Jeremy Stemen


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


ACT ONE

SCENE ONE

Single Spotlight rises on a microphone stand stage-center

ANNOUNCER
(who is actually Wally on tape):
Let's give a great Risin Stars welcome, to Wally Lawrence.

(WALLY emerges in t-shirt and boxers looking extremely grungy and
unkempt.)

WALLY:
Good evening. I'm so glad to be here! This is great. You know I
have been touring your hometown here. I never thought it would be so
easy to get lost in a town of 40.

(Breaks Character curtains raise to show apartment, small and
cluttered with "stuff" nothing nice, pretty ratty, and a tour
poster clearly showing Wally on the wall. About 20 pizza boxes
around)

What difference does that make? Man, that's really horrible. This
is so frustrating.

(Back in "on stage character")

Good Evening, what do you do when you use to have the funniest comedy
routine in the country, and just can't find the funny anymore? What
do you do when your life is spiraling out of control and can't catch
a break anywhere? You are recognized when you go out, but can't
afford to have a meal, or even a date? What do you do when you are just not
funny? Funny
(repeating it in different styles)
Funny.Funny..
(evolving into a bored can't think of what to say)
Funny..gracioso.el funny..no funny. Wally no funny.

LARRY:
Wally sucks!
(offstage right.)
Boo! Get off the stage!

WALLY puts the microphone back in the stand and breaks his character into
himself

Then walks to his table that has papers all over it

Reads a couple. Defeated )

WALLY:
None of this is funny. What the hell? What does a comic do when he
isn't funny?

LARRY:
(Off state right)
He quits and gets over himself! You're a has-been! May as well
accept it and finish yourself off! No one cares!

Door knock
(Wally just disregards, and sits on the sofa trying to be quiet.
Maybe they will go away.)

RITA:
Hey Wally it's me. I know you're in there. It's too early for
you not to be.

LARRY:
Why are you letting her up here? All it does is tear you up on the
inside. And she'll just remind you of what you're not anymore.

(Wally walks to the door and opens it a crack and leaves it open and
walks away)

RITA:
Hey there, how's it coming?

WALLY:
Well, no closer to getting something that'll stick. How's things
with you today?

RITA:
Alright. - just dropped the kids off at school, and then heading
into the office.

WALLY:
So, why didn't you just use your key?

RITA:
I don't know if you having a slumber party with Vicky or a nightly
surrogate. I've seen more of Vicky than her doctor has.

(It gives Rita a quick shudder as she thinks about it)

I've learned my lesson.

WALLY:
Yeah, I guess so.

RITA:
You okay? You look really tired.

WALLY:
Are you saying I look like crap? Cause whenever anyone says that, it
usually is because they look like crap.

(Rita is cleaning up the boxes and making it "sorted" and gives
him the "well?" face)

WALLY:
Just working on my stuff.

RITA:
Looks like it. How's it coming?

WALLY:
Really crappy. Nothing's gelling. I dunno Rita, I'm thinking
it's time for me to hang up my clown shoes…time to transition into
being in the real world.

RITA:
Putting a puppy in the lion's den. You'd go crazy working 9-5.
How's the finances?

WALLY:
I'm still surviving. If I don't go out and do a thing, I'll be
fine till the end of next month. I'll make it to the end of the
following month if I stop eating today.

RITA:
You and that whole eating thing…

WALLY:
Stupid sustance. Cut that out and life would be much less expensive.

RITA:
I feel your pain.

LARRY:
See! She blames you!

WALLY:
How are the kids?

RITA:
Alright. They fought all the way to school. Ricky was breathing too
loud and Lillian was existing.

WALLY:
Sounds like them. Hopefully they continue to do both. Hey, can I ask
a favor?

RITA:
Sure

WALLY:
Can you bring me over some of my tapes?

RITA:
Which ones?

WALLY:
New York and…uh…Austin. I want to remember what it was like to
kill.

RITA:
You have hundreds of tapes of yourself.

WALLY:
Yeah, but I don't want to look for them.
(Wally reminds Rita of the room they are both standing in.)
Besides, I don't want to run the risk of grabbing one of my last big
shows. I already don't feel funny. I don't need that kind of
inspiration.

RITA:
Gotcha. If I can put in my two cents, stay away from the heavy stuff.
The last few months have had show filled with political and social
statements. People want a night out of fun, life's too brutal
already. They don't need to spend an hour of their lives being
preached to about how bad they are; they already know that.
Get back to your roots, Wally.
Just be funny.

Well, better head into work. You're not gonna book yourself.

WALLY:
Has anyone called on me lately?

RITA:
Yeah, we had a small bar in Phoenix call to see if you were on the
circuit at all.

WALLY:
Thanks for including the term “small”.

RITA:
You know what I mean.

WALLY:
Do I?

RITA:
Yes you do. Now hush. You know, you need to get out of here. Or at
least break up your day. Do something different. You can't come up
with new material if all you are doing is sitting looking at the same
four walls. Be adventurous.

WALLY:
This is as adventurous as I get anymore.

RITA:
You know, there are a few open mics around town you could go to and
just riff.

WALLY:
No way. With all these phones recording comics and putting them up on
the web? Hell no. I already know I suck. I don't need a million
viewers calling me a has been. You don't have to run off so soon.
Sit. Let's talk.

RITA:
(recognizing this is about to be a talk they have had many times)
Wally…Bill and I are back together. It's not going to change. I
will always consider our weekend together…magical. And look back on
it fondly. But I have kids. And a husband. We aren't the same
people.

WALLY:
Well, geez. I wasn't asking for sex.

(Rita gives him a look)
Okay, maybe, if it happened…you know magically…but I just miss
you. What we use to be.

RITA:
Remember, there is no us. Other than professionally. I'm your
agent. That's all we can be.

WALLY:
(disappointed, but he's heard it all before)
Yeah yeah, I know.

RITA:
Okay, I really have to get going. Just think about it.

WALLY:
Thanks for stopping by.

RITA:
You sure you're alright?

WALLY:
Yep. Have a good one.

(Rita looks at Wally concerned, gives him a peck on the cheek, then
closes the door. Wally gets up and starts shuffling through the pizza
boxes and finds a piece of half eaten pizza and continues to eat it.)

LARRY:
Finally! Geez, she's annoying. So many mixed messages. And
can't get you a freakin job. You need to dump her.

(Phone rings)

WALLY:
Hello? Nope, sorry, you must have the wrong number.

(Hangs up the phone, and it dials and rings again, and rings 5 times,
and stops.)

LARRY:
Can't these people take a hint?

(Truly deflated, Wally stands and walks towards the window, on
Rita's advice he opens the blind, opens the window, and looks out.
Breathing the fresh air he is shocked to see his next door neighbor,
he immediately pulls back in and hides against the wall)

KAREN:
Offstage

Hi Wally! How are you this morning? I saw you Wally.
(Wally shakes his head no) Wally!

WALLY:
Oh, hi Karen,
(shielding his eyes, and looking everywhere but through the window)
I didn't see you over there.

KAREN:
Don't mind me, I'm just sunning myself. Trying to even out my
tan. Can't wear my strapless dresses with tan lines.

WALLY:
Uh huh.

KAREN:
Did you get the notice from the super, honey?

WALLY:
Which one?
(still not making eye contact)

KAREN:
The rate increase.

WALLY:
What?

KAREN:
Yeah, they want to increase our rent by 50 dollars a month.

WALLY:
You serious?

KAREN:
Yeah, starts next month. Don't you read your mail?

WALLY:
I just have quite a bit shoved in, over there somewhere.
(Wally waves his arm over the mess of his apartment)
I guess I just didn't see it. Oh man..screw me!

LARRY:
Congratulations! You just found another way to suck at life!

KAREN:
I like your boxers. Why don't you take off your t-shirt and enjoy
it out here?

WALLY:
Actually I'm working.

KAREN:
Looks like it. ....working it!

WALLY:
uh yeah.

KAREN:
Hey, before you go back in, can you tell me, does my left one look
bigger then my right?

WALLY:
What?
KAREN:
Just look at them. They are both the same size. But, darn it, if one
doesn't look bigger.

WALLY:
Your left or my left.

KAREN:
My left. Does it matter?

WALLY:
Well no.

KAREN:
Is there something wrong with the right one?

WALLY:
No. That's not what I meant.

KAREN:
Cause, I think there is.

WALLY:
Nope. Looks fine to me.

LARRY:
Liar! It's like they're cross-eyed. It's like her left nipple
is trying to sneak over off her breast to the other breast.

KAREN:
Thanks hon. You want something besides pizza for dinner tonight? I'm
making dinner and there will be plenty for the two of us.

WALLY:
Um. Okay.

LARRY:
Oh great. Add user to your list of failures.

KAREN:
Is that a "yes"?

WALLY:
Sure. I'm copacetic with that.

KAREN:
So that is a yes?

LARRY:
She has no idea what copacetic is.

WALLY:
That's a yes.

KAREN:
Great! I have something really good for us.

WALLY:
Are you making it already?

KAREN:
Nope. But I have a great idea!

WALLY:
Well good!

PAUL:
Off stage
Hi Wally. Well hello Karen!

WALLY:
Hi Paul

KAREN:
Paul! Don't look!

LARRY:
Oh god! Now Paul. All aboard the loser express for three…woo woo!

PAUL:
I'm sorry. I thought it was okay to be out on my own fire escape.

KAREN:
No! Why would you think it was okay? A girl deserves some privacy.

[end of extract]



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