Turn off your phones [sketch comedy]

Man, this blog is so SERIOUS. Life is so HEAVY. Did you know I used to be considered funny? That I am a published humorist? That I was once the head writer of a San Francisco sketch comedy group?

Then the crushing weight of my thirties took the funny out of me.

Just kidding, I’ve still got it.

Here’s a bit of fun. I am working on a sketch for an upcoming show at the Orcas Center, the island’s fancy little performing arts center. Below, a 1st draft of the sketch, with notes and typos.

The concept is an extended gag version of a pre-performance announcement.

NOTES
Heighten!! More for actors to do. Add. Actors come on stage, interact w audience? Bells, smoke, chants, craziness.

###

Two “attendants” on stage. They mime along to our announcer, like flight attendants.

ANNOUNCER (offstage)
Welcome to the Orcas Center for the Arts. As a reminder, please turn off your smartphones. Also, please turn off your tablets. Please turn off your laptops and desktop computers. Turn off any amateur ham radios or satellite phones. Turn off any telegraphs, fax machines or teletype machines. Fold up and stow any naval signal flags, or semaphore flags.

Now that you’ve turned off and stowed any portable communication devices, we ask for your attention. Not your distracted, squirrel brain attention, where you think about what you’re gonna eat later, or if Zoë is gonna call. (Spoiler, she’s not.)

No, we ask for your calm, peaceful, undivided attention. Don’t think about Facebook. That’s right, come back. Don’t think about that thing the president said. Come on back. To this moment. In this theater. Surrounded by human beings. Don’t think about that one time in high school when Conor made fun of your new sweater, so you threw it in the dumpster behind the art room and after school your mom asked, what happened to your sweater, and you said, I lost it. Don’t think about that.

Gently, but firmly, steer your attention, to Orcas Island. To the Orcas Center. To this little theater. Surrounded by these human beings.

Hey is that guy texting? Ah, it’s so distracting. But don’t think about that. Don’t even feel mad at him. Or actually, allow yourself to feel the feeling of anger. It’s ok, let the feeling of anger rise in you like an oncoming wave, let it crest, and fall on to the beach, and let it recede into the ocean.

Good. Now that your attention is focused on this moment, in this theater, on this island, take a deep breath. Notice how the air goes into your mouth flaps, down into your tummy tum, and then flobbles right out of your mouthface. Real good.

Now gently let your attention to your knees. Knees are weird. They’re like leg elbows. Isn’t that weird? Its kind of like when you stare at a word for too long. The. The. The. The. T-H-E. Tuh. Huh. Eeeeeeee. Thuh uh. Thuh eeeeee. Weird.

Now, turn to your neighbor—Wait, don’t turn to your neighbor, that’s so uncomfortable. Allow your neighbor to sit peacefully by your side. Resist the powerful urge to touch them. Looking straight ahead, think about your neighbor. Are they hungry? Do they also have knees? Do they fall asleep while anxiously scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed? Do they feel, in this time of extreme technological connectivity, a profound distance from their fellow humans. In a word, are they lonely?

Without speaking, or acknowledging your neighbor in any way, visualize a red hot beam of love emanating from your heart, to theirs. Then visualize a network of hot love beams, connecting each person in this room. Now imagine your love beams connecting to form a giant column of love energy that shoots into space. Follow it as it shoots past the atmosphere of earth, past the GPS satellites that tell Facebook where you are at all times, past the moon, past Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and that other planet. Feel that love energy hurtle through the vacuum of cold dark space to the Andromeda galaxy, and a small planet as yet unknown to our scientists, through the surprisingly similar atmosphere, down to a surprisingly similar planetary surface, into a hexagonal structure, which turns out to be a small performing arts center, to a surprisingly similar group of humanoids, seated quietly waiting for a nearly identical performance to begin. Except for these creatures, these beings, don’t have knees. They have no knees. They are kneeless. Think about that.

Enjoy the show.

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