After a longish period, with not much happening at all, the last week has been a particularly good time for reviews of my 'nostalgedy...
Thursday, 29 October 2015
I have no idea where this came from - it's just been running around in my head all day. So, at least it's been getting some exercise!
Scene: A grubby and untidy back-street office. Behind a desk overflowing with newspaper cuttings, final demands, playbills and hopeful letters sits a balding, chubby man in an ill-fitting suit. On the wall behind him there is a sign bedecked with little stars and bearing the rather optimistic legend 'Wishaw's Theatrical Agency - wishes come true with Wishaw!' A middle-aged woman, dressed rather younger than her years in a figure-hugging sweater and jeans, pokes her head around the door:
Veronica: "You wanted to see me, Mr. Wishaw?"
Wishaw: "Veronica! Come on in"
V: "Thanks, Mr. Wishaw"
She wiggles toward a chair and clears a few papers off it in order to sit down.
V: "BTW, Mr. Wishaw, it's 'Veronique' now, I've changed it"
W: "Veronique eh? Very pretty, I'm sure. Now then, Veronica…"
W: "Yes, of course. Well, look V, it's like this. You know I sent you up for that gas boiler ad?"
V: "Yes, Mr. Wishaw. Thank you, Mr. Wishaw"
W: "Thanks are unnecessary, Veron…V. I've had a note back from the producer and I thought I ought to share it with you."
V: (squeals excitedly) "Oh, some notes! I'm always willing to learn, Mr. W."
W: "Well, not notes as such, V. You see, I sent you for that audition because I thought it was something you could do standing on your head. However, from what it says here, it seems that's exactly what you did do"
V: "That's right, Mr. Wishaw. You see, the shot was just my from my feet up to my knees, and this animated corgi was going to be added in later. I couldn't see how I could convey the important emotions with just my feet and knees"
W: "So you stood on your head?"
V: "Yes, that's right. I wanted the viewer to understand the depth of my feelings"
W: "Let me get this straight, V. As I understand it, the nub and the gist of the ad is that a cartoon corgi brings a newspaper to you with a headline that shows that 1 in 11 boilers are potentially dangerous. Is that right?"
V: "That's it, Mr. W. It's an emotional subject. People could get hurt!"
W: "I don't doubt it, V. But don't you think the sight of you hanging upside down might just distract the viewers a tiny bit from the content of the ad?"
V: (sulkily) "I don't see why, Mr. Wishaw"
W: "Well, be that as it may, V. Leaving the 'standing on your head' approach to one side, for the moment, the other thing the producer was somewhat concerned about was your modification of your lines"
V: (very sulkily) "I don't think he properly understood my motivation"
W: "V. All he wanted you to say was 'Oh dear, corgi, that's not good is it?' and then the voiceover would explain the rest. But you didn't say that, did you V?"
V: (moodlily) "No, Mr. W."
W: "What you actually said was, and I quote, 'Good grief, my dog can read, I'm going to be rich beyond my wildest dreams!'"
V: "Well, that's what I would have said, Mr. W. I have to be true to my character, to my inner self."
Veronica slams her right hand to her chest for dramatic effect.
W: (sympathetically) "V, no-one doubts that your heart is in the right place. It's just that…"
Wishaw stares fixedly at Veronica's sagging embonpoint
W: (distractedly) "…your charley's aren't"
V: "I beg your pardon!"
W: (hastily) "Charlie's Aunt! There's talk of doing a run, thought you might fancy it?"
V: (suspiciously) "Where?"
Wishaw is still distracted and continues to stare at Veronica's chest
W: "God kn…Godalming!"
V: "I don't think so, Mr. W. It's not where I see myself right now. "
W: "What? Godalming?"
V: "No, silly! I mean my creative journey. Light comedy is so… yesterday. Today, I see myself as more…Ibsen, possibly Chekhov, Beckett perhaps?"
W: "Oh V! No, love. You mustn't run before you can walk." Picks up a piece of paper from the desk "What about a nice soap powder commercial, eh? All you've got to do is stick your hands in a bowl of suds. No dialogue, no nothing. Just your hands and a bowl of suds. What do you say?"
V: "But what's my motivation?"
W: "They're paying £300"
V: "I'll do it."
Wishaw gets up and escorts Veronica to the door
V: "If I bent down a little, perhaps I could…"
W: (firmly) "No V."
V: "I could scream a little? The water could be very hot…"
W: "Don't talk to me about hot water! Just the hands, V. and think of the money"
Friday, 16 October 2015
The scene is set in the Menswear section of a department store. A very nondescript gentleman is wandering bemusedly around the various stands. A salesman approaches, optimistically:
Salesman: "Good morning sir, how are we today?"
Nondescript Gent: "I'm fine; I can't speak for you of course"
S: "I meant, can I help sir out at all"
NG: "I've only just come in!"
S: "Very droll, sir. Is sir looking for anything in particular today?"
NG: "I was thinking about clothes"
S: "I think of little else, sir. Any particular garment at all? I have a rather nice houndstooth jacket that might take your fancy?" [He plucks a sleeve from a rack]
NG: "Oh no, that would be far too…definite. I'm hoping for something irredeemably tedious"
S: "Irredeemably tedious, really? I do have a beige pair of trousers that many have said are quite dull, would that be what sir had in mind?"
NG: "Beige? it's a bit…colourful, isn't it?"
S: "Oh, not these, sir." [Flourishes a pair of very boring beige trousers from a nearby rack] "No-one could ever accuse these of anything approaching colour."
NG: "They're a little…dramatic for my taste. If I was thinking of anything, I suppose I was thinking of grey."
S: "Grey? Yes, I suppose sir would be. How about this?" [He produces a pair of smart, charcoal grey trousers]
NG: [shrinking back in horror] "They're very…very grey, aren't they? Very definitely grey"
S: [reproachfully] "Sir did say he was thinking of grey"
NG: "Well, yes, but thinking of it and it coming at you like that, out of the…out of the…"
S: "Out of the grey, sir?"
NG "Yes, yes, I suppose so. Well, it gave me a start, that's all"
S: "These are not to sir's taste?"
NG: "Have you anything that's not quite so definitely grey?"
S: [dubiously] "Not so definitely grey? Could sir perhaps give me some illustration of what he had in mind?"
NG: "Well, you know if you've washed a pair of white trousers with something black, by mistake, and the colour's run? That sort of thing."
S: "White trousers washed with black?" [he muses for a moment] "One moment, sir"
The salesman retires to a storeroom and there is the sound of packets being hurled about. Eventually he appears, with dishevelled hair but clutching a cellophane packet of trousers.
S: "These are from our Insipid collection. As you might imagine, it never really caught the imagination of the clothes-buying public and we now keep just a few items in stock for the, erm…discerning customer." [He produces a pair of trousers of indeterminate greyness from the packet] "Would these be the sort of thing that sir had in mind?"
NG: "Gosh, they really are rather dull, aren't they?"
S: "I think sir's term 'irredeemably tedious' rather sums it up"
NG: "Yes, yes, I think you're right. I almost forgot they were there, even while I was staring at them"
S: "I had much the same experience in the stock cupboard, sir. Shall I wrap them, or will sir wear them right now?"
NG: "Can you wrap them, please?" [conspiratorially] I rather want to delay the pleasure of wearing them until I get home."
S: [moving swiftly to the cash register, with some relief] "I quite understand. Will there be anything else, sir?"
NG: "I could do with a shirt to go with them. Do you have anything in off-white?"
S: [placing his hands over both eyes and sighing dramatically] "Off-white? Would sir mind if I enquired as to sir's occupation?"
This is where you come in. I can't think of a pay-off for this sketch, so the first person to come up with an answer that I like, not only gets to finish the sketch but also wins a free copy of any of the four books on the right. Put your suggestions in the comments below, please.