A bit of backstory: A few months ago, I was driving to SFO to pick up The Finn from London (Jarmo’s new nickname for this blog; he suggested ‘James Bond,’ but has officially given his stamp of approval … er, his hyväksytty leima, to ‘The Finn’).
In the shitstorm that is the airport loading zone (who doesn’t think of the movie Airplane when they’re at one? Just me, eh?), I saw humanity disintegrate before my very eyes when faced with a single parking enforcement officer. Naturally, the first thought that entered my mind was, ‘It would be really funny if the ticket guy was, like, a Buddhist monk.’
Now, try this: think of three funny American actors or actresses. I can almost guarantee you that at least one — if not two or even three — got their comedy starts at Second City.
Every since I was a kid listening to Steve Martin’s Let Get Small comedy album and watching SCTV (Second City TV), I’d always wanted to see a performance at the famed improv institution. As soon as I found out I was moving to Chicago, I signed up for a writing class that was to start nine days after I arrived. (PS. Why you should always do your homework, kids: Second City offers online writing classes, which I could have taken years ago.)
Last week in my Writing I class, our assignment was to create a sketch involving two characters, give them each both an outer want and an inner need (will explain later), and to have them interact in exactly two pages. Below is my first draft of my first sketch.
Noble Truths at the Newark Airport
11/16/2014 (version #1)
Rinpoche – Buddhist monk, ageless (but prob late 30s), bald, orange robe
Chelsea – 20s
(Airport loading zone)
(running towards car, not looking at Rinpoche)
Wait, wait, officer! I was about to move my car! Don’t give me a ticket!
(muttering to self)
Fucking hell. This is my fourth parking ticket this month. My car is going to get impounded if I get another one. Goddamnit. These parking enforcement assholes …
(steps out from behind car; audience sees for first time)
Oh, heh heh heh. I am so sorry, my child. But you were not here in the moment.
(grabbing keys from purse, still not looking at Rinpoche)
But I’m fucking here now! Please don’t give me a ticket! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you fucking parking control officers are all the same, with your goddamn power tri—
(Chelsea notices parking officer is a Buddhist monk, in full robes)
What the f–? Wha? What’s going on? Who are you?!!
I am Rinpoche Nayendra Tengan Lama … the Fourth.
But … I mean, why are you handing out parking tickets at the Newark, New Jersey airport?
(smiling and rubbing his belly)
You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.
You … you mean the New Jersey Turnpike?
Ho, ho, ho. Well, my dear. We say that all life is suffering.
Uh, duh. I learned that in yoga class. But you’re supposed to be on some sort of mountaintop, meditating and shit. You know, instead of handing out bullshit parking tickets at the airport. Wait, am I allowed to curse in front of you?
(looking at peace and still smiling, deep in thought)
Mmm. The tongue, like a sharp knife, kills without drawing blood.
Oh, great. Now you’re threatening me. I’m gonna call the Transit Authority if you don’t calm the hell down, buddy.
Peace comes from within, do not seek it without.
(looks inside car)
Do you mean, like, within my car?
Yes. Yes, I do mean within your car. What do you see?
Exactly. Here is your parking ticket.
(hands her ticket)
But it’s empty! (long pause; look of calm comes across Chelsea’s face) Oooooh! Praise to the Great Buddha. (Chelsea and Rinpoche bow to each other)