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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Perfect Plan

So, yesterday, SuperDependable Teen was telling me she had to write a comedy sketch for her e-school teacher, and then call said e-school teacher up on the phone and do the sketch for her out loud.

She’s not thrilled about it, and I wish I could help her with it, as I love to write comedy, even though few if any actually seem to enjoy the comedy I write. But her plight reminded me of a Monty Python type skit I myself wrote back in high school, while, of course, under the influence of regular weekly hits of FLYING CIRCUS on the local PBS station, interleavened with showings of HOLY GRAIL every three or four months (whenever they were having a pledge drive) .

I think I actually wrote it all down in a notebook somewhere back in like 11th grade, but I foolishly threw out a drawer full of notebooks and sketchbooks and old character sheets from early college superhero RPGs and letters from old girlfriends and a lot of other rubbish like that during a move from one apartment to another back in the mid 80s. It’s one of those decisions I deeply regret now, as I’m sure there was stuff in there that I could no doubt use to blackmail award winning comic book writer Kurt Busiek with to a very lucrative tune indeed. Alas, it’s all in a landfill somewhere in Upstate New York now, no doubt rotted into mulch.

Still, having recounted the outlines of the sketch for SuperDependable Teen and SuperAdorable Kid yesterday, and then been forced by them to re-recount it to SuperWife when she got home, because they thought it was so funny, I feel like I may as well while away a few idle hours trying to set it all down again.

SuperAdorable Kid is up at the moment, and in the back bedroom watching something truly horrifying on Nickelodeon, because I just couldn’t take listening to one more nanosecond of it.

Okay. Here we go:

OPEN in a dingy hallway. As we pan down this hallway, we see a bench running along one side of it that is filled with unsavory characters – characters, in fact, that are dressed so much like criminals as to be visual near-parodies of various sorts of robbers and burglars. Many of these characters are just extras, but the sharp eye will pick out, scattered amongst them, most of the members of Monty Python – Graham Chapman is there, dressed in a striped shirt with a number stenciled on it with a ball and chain still attached to one ankle, Eric Idle has a black wool cap and a domino mask and is wearing a black sweatshirt and black trousers, Michael Palin looks like a riverboat gambler with an elaborate suit, long mustachios, and a filigreed walking stick, etc.

The camera POV arrives at a door leadinginto a small, shabby office just as the door is opened from within and yet another obvious criminal type, perhaps Terry Jones dressed as a Chicago era gangster complete with violin case, exits, obviously disgusted. He calls back into the office as he leaves:

JONES: And you can take all your sodding kangaroos and shove them right up your…(JONES realizes he has an audience – pauses, turns to next fellow in line) oh, right, sorry, yes, you can go in. Good bleeding luck to you!

We see GRAHAM get up and shuffle inside the office. We follow him inside, and see JOHN CLEESE, nattily dressed in a nice business suit, sitting behind a desk that has several file folders scattered around on it. There is an empty chair in front of the desk. CLEESE waves GRAHAM into it.

CLEESE: I don’t see what’s so damn difficult about some kangaroos… well, then! Hallo! Good to see you! Have a seat. Now, you are…

CHAPMAN: Diggory, sir, an’ it please you.

CLEESE: Mf, Diggory, yes, it looks as if you’re a bit Diggory indeed! Just tunneled out of some place, did we? Heh heh.

CHAPMAN: Er… yessir… (glances around furtively, in a paranoid fashion) Er… about this job, sir…

CLEESE: Yes, yes. Well. As you’ve read the advert, you know. What we’re looking for here is The Perfect Plan for robbing the Bank of London.

CHAPMAN: Yessir. (Takes out a small notebook, begins flipping through it. ) Now, what I’ve got…

CLEESE: Now, you understand, when I say perfect, I mean PERFECT. We’ll accept nothing less. Every possible contingency must be catered for well in advance.

CHAPMAN: Uh… yes sir… I think I’ve covered the waterfront, so to say…

CLEESE: WELL in advance. That’s what I’m saying. Every POSSIBLE contingency. You do see, don’t you? It’s a mad world, after all, and anything can happen, and we don’t want to get pinched, do we?

CHAPMAN: Uh… well, yessir. Um… see, by my plan, we need a squad of six men. Three on the drills, three to scoop out the loose rubble…

CLEESE: Ah, so it’s a digging plan. Tunnels, eh? A digging plan from Diggory. Well, I’m breathless with anticipation. Do you have details?

CHAPMAN: Yes sir, if you’ll look here (leans over desk, shows CLEESE notebook – CLEESE pages through it a bit, ooohs and ahhhs)

CLEESE: Well, this looks very good. VERY good indeed. (CHAPMAN sits back in his chair, looking pleased. ) But, I do have a few questions, about your contingency planning. Now… (CLEESE opens a file folder, picks up a piece of paper, then puts it on the desk and points to a place on it. CHAPMAN leans over to study it. ) Here, you see… this is the main checkpoint, with four guards stationed here at all times. Now I understand you plan to tunnel underneath and avoid the guards all together, and that’s just brilliant, really. But… suppose one or two of these guards has gone to the loo, which is down these stairs nearer the vault, and thus, they hear your drills and sound an alarm?

CHAPMAN: Well, sir, my wife and her sister… rather smashing birds, a good bit of the all right, if you know what I mean… they’ll be stationed inside the main lobby while we drill, and their job is to keep those guards distracted. And believe you me, they’ll have no trouble doing it.

CLEESE: Excellent. (CLEESE replaces the piece of paper in a file folder, opens another folder, studies a piece of paper, then pushes it towards CHAPMAN. ) Very well, let’s try this one. Somehow or another, an alarm has been set off and the coppers are on their way. What, if anything, do you do?

CHAPMAN: Ah. Well, sir, my nephew is a bit of a wizard with the electricals, and by that point he would be stationed in the service tunnels just down the thoroughfare. At a signal from me, he would cut several wires, causing all the traffic signals in downtown London to go barmy at once, utterly paralyzing traffic. In the confusion, we would nip off smartly in our miniature helicopter, and be on the beach in Belize before the coppers got their knickers straightened.

CLEESE: Excellent. Yes, just excellent. Well. I can see you’ve a wonderful plan and have thought it through very well… hmmm. Well. No more of these run of the mill questions for you, let’s just… yes. The fellow who was in here before had a lovely scheme, too, but then this one question tripped him up. Shall we try it out on you?

CHAPMAN: I’ll ‘ave a go, sir, if you please.

CLEESE: Good man. Very well. (Opens file folder, takes out another sheet. ) Jolly good, here it is. Suppose, in the middle of your robbery, a herd of feral kangaroos somehow appears in the vault with you and begins hopping about, you know, rather violently. (CLEESE demonstrates how the kangaroos would hop, with his fingers on the desk.) What would you do?

CHAPMAN: (sits silently)

CLEESE: Come now, man, it isn’t that difficult! Feral kangaroos! Dozens of them! Leaping about insanely, cavorting like maddened trolly-mongers all over the beastly place! It’s chaos! A right bloody shambles! They’re biting you about your bollocks and causing untold havoc! Your whole heist is going pear shaped and lolly doodle all around you! Surely you have some sort of plan!

CHAPMAN: Uh… (pages through notebook) Right, sir, I’m sorry, I just had a little plugged up sinus for a moment there… I’m fine now… let me see… yes, here it is. Out of our six man squad, two men would break away and deploy the large, weighted nets packed along specifically against this contingency… well, against animal incursions in general, I should say. These things will hold anything… maddened alligator, rogue gorilla, enraged terrapin, rabid whelk… they’ll do a few feral kangaroos a treat, let me tell you, guv. And while that’s being dealt with, the rest of the robbery proceeds smoothly.

CLEESE: Really? Let me see that. (CHAPMAN hands CLEESE the notebook, CLEESE pages through it for a moment. ) Well, this is really quite extraordinary. Wizard! Yes, this is brilliant. BRILLIANT. All right then. I think we may have found our plan. Just one more question.

CHAPMAN: Yes sir?

CLEESE: What… (CLEESE pauses melodramatically for a beat) …if the sun goes nova?

CHAPMAN: (stares at CLEESE as if CLEESE has lost his mind) I… what if WHAT?

CLEESE: The sun. Goes nova.

CHAPMAN: (stares at CLEESE in utter bewilderment) You’re not bloody serious.

CLEESE: EVERY contingency. Must be planned for. WELL in advance. (CLEESE waits a moment. CHAPMAN says nothing, obviously astonished. CLEESE gets up behind desk, walks around to clap CHAPMAN on the shoulder. ) Well, rum luck, then. Thank you SO much for coming by. Send in the next fellow, will you?

CHAPMAN: It… I… wait. You want a plan that takes into account the bloody sun bloody BLOWING UP?

CLEESE: Yes, yes, every contingency… (leans out office door, calling down hall) Next, please…

CHAPMAN: But we’ll all be fookin’ DEAD, won’t we? I mean, if the bloody sun goes nova, then…

CLEESE: (pushing CHAPMAN out door as ERIC IDLE attempts to sidle in past him) Yes, yes, best of luck, do run along, HALLO! Nice to see you, do come in! (CLEESE shoves CHAPMAN out the door, closes it firmly, goes back behind his desk. IDLE sits down. )

CLEESE: All right. Now, look. You have a plan for robbing the Bank of London?

IDLE: Oh, yes sir.

CLEESE: Jolly good. But, see here, my good man. Normally I’d look at your plan and review it and then go over a few contingencies and… but, you see, everyone is getting into a spot of bother a bit later on in the process, with what seems, at least to me, to be some very simple, easily foreseeable… mmmm… glitches, yes. So, would you mind if I just skipped to the tougher inquiries, to save time?

IDLE: Not at all. However you like.

CLEESE. Excellent. Very well. Hmmm. (glances down at paper still on his desk) . So, then… in your plan for robbing the Bank of England… your PERFECT plan… what if the sun goes nova?

IDLE: Ah. In that case, sir, what would happen is, Team Gamma would immediately deploy the experimental Solar Shields. Field testing indicates that these portable radiation filters would provide Teams Alpha and Beta with sufficient protection to complete the robbery in ample time, and get to their escape vehicles. In fact, should the sun go nova, it will actually help the caper, as, you know, all the guards and coppers and such will be too busy screaming and exploding into flames and falling into little heaps of dust to be much bother to us.

CLEESE: (peers with some disbelief, but dawning hope, at IDLE) You… solar shielding? You actually have… you don’t find it to be an absurd question?

IDLE: Oh, no sir. The sun could actually go nova at any instant. Crazy world, anything can happen, you know. You have to plan for these things.

CLEESE: Well, then. Hm. (lifts up cover of another file folder furtively, sneaks a glance into it, looks at IDLE, then pounces: ) Feral kangaroos!

IDLE: (waves hand contemptuously) Riot control shotguns, sir, loaded with dense rubber pellets, set to spray over a wide dispersal cone. That’ll sort out those rompers in jig time.

CLEESE: (smiling hugely) You give me hope, sir. Hmmm. Let me see. Now, if the guards from the central command post are out of position, say, down near the loo. What would you…?

IDLE: Knock out gas infiltrated into the air conditioning vents five minutes before Teams Alpha, Beta, and Gamma enter the building, sir.

CLEESE: Excellent, excellent. So… going back to the beginning, then… what is your basic plan for getting into the vault? It’s a tricky time lock…

IDLE: Er… the vault, sir?

CLEESE: Yes. The vault. Where they keep the money.

IDLE: Well… I… they keep the money in a vault? With a lock and all? Well, that’s… hmmm. That’s rather hard, sir. I… I hadn’t considered that.

CLEESE looks horrified and appalled. Opens his mouth –


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At 7:59 PM , Anonymous Always Esteemed Scott said...

Heh. That's good. I like it.
Jolly good show, what?

At 7:40 AM , Blogger AaA said...

That's some right funny shite there, guv.

"Locked up? In a vault you say?"

Good stuff...

At 7:51 AM , Blogger AaA said...

Actually, I feel as if I've sinned by omission.

That is certainly a sketch that I would have loved to have seen peformed by the Flying Circus, and my fisrt reading of it had me snorting and guffawing. I heartily endorse you slipping it onto one of their desks via time machine as soon as you get one so we can enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed, performed by the Monty Python regulars.


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