A bit of juvenile satire. Funny, but not as biting as I thought it was when I was 15.
|The First Tuesday in November
Gregory W. Shrub - Presidential candidate, not very smart, goes to speech lessons
Herbert H. Hebert - Presidential candidate, hates Shrub, goes to anger management lessons
George McGee - Shrub’s most trusted advisor
Michael Davis - HHH’s most trusted advisor
Dr. Arthur T. Culation - Shrub’s speech teacher
Dr Fran Qualize - HHH’s anger management doctor
Linda Shrub - Wife of Gregory W. Shrub
Henrietta H. Hebert - Herbert H. Hebert’s wife
Herbert H. Hebert, Jr. - HHH’s son
Shrub and Hebert are running for president. Shrub has a speech problem, and Hebert has anger management problems. Each go to psychotic specialists to try to get help.
Curtain opens. Shrub and HHH are standing on opposite sides of a podium with advisors and families. There is a crowd of reporters seated in front of the podium.
Announcer: Now, ladies and gentlemen, Gregory W. Shrub.
Crowd cheers. Shrub walks toward podium
Shrub: Good afternoon. My name is Gregory W. Shrub, and I am running for precedent, um.... president. My promise to you is, if I am elected, I will make sure every child gets an education. Remember, if you teach your son or daughter to read, him or her will be able to pass a literacy test. Thank you.
Shrub walks back to his place to thunderous applause. McGee leans in to whisper to him as announcer comes back on.
Announcer: And now, Herbert H. Hebert.
HHH walks forward to slightly less applause than was given to Shrub
HHH: Hello, I’m Herbert H. Hebert, and I am also running for president. I would like to say that if Mr. Shrub’s parents had taught him to read, he would be able to pass a literacy test. Thank you.
HHH walks off and as soon as he gets to his place, he and Shrub exit to their sides with their families and advisors. Curtains close. Reporters walk from front and mingle.
Reporter 1: Well, wasn’t that interesting?
Reporter 2: That it was. (Angrily) I can’t believe that we have another three months of nothing but these two guys.
Reporter 1: I know, its going to be pretty horrible. Shrub can’t speak without embarrassing himself, and Hebert can’t talk about Shrub without nearly exploding in anger. It’s painful to watch.
Reporter 2: I think I’m going to have to vote for my pet rat again this year.
Reporter 1: What’s his name?
Reporter 2: Randy. Randy the Rat.
Reporter 1: I’d rather have Randy the Rat as my Commander-in-Chief than either of those clowns. I’ll vote for Randy, too.
Shrub is sitting at a table with his wife. McGee comes in with a slice of pie for each of them. He drops one, looks around guiltily, picks it up, puts it back and gives that one to Shrub.
Shrub: Did you do something to my pie? It looks funny.
McGee: No, its fine. Just eat it.
Shrub: But its kinda broken, and it’s got stuff all over it.
McGee: That’s just garnish, like what Martha Stewart uses.
Shrub: (angry) OK, I’m running for president, I’m not stupid! Martha Stewart doesn’t, doesn’t... do whatever you said to pies with hair! I’m going to eat it, just tell me what’s wrong with it.
McGee: Fine, I dropped it, are you happy? I’m sorry I’m not perfect like you!
Mrs. Shrub: Boys, calm down. We’ve got work to do.
McGee: She’s right.
Shrub: Of course. So, George, what did you invite me here to talk about? Wait, before you tell me, I’ve got a story for you. I was watching a TV show last night, and it was starting to get Belgian, and-
McGee: Belgian, sir?
Shrub: Yes, George, Belgian. Anyway-
McGee: Sir, I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
Shrub: Yes it does! Now you’re really starting to disinfect me! Fine, I won’t finish my story, just tell me why I’m here and let me go home.
McGee: Sir, if you don’t mind me saying so, you have a bit of a problem with your vocabulary.
Shrub: No I don’t! I actually kind of like the way my vocabulary looks.
McGee: (To Mrs. Shrub) See what I mean, Mrs. Shrub?
Mrs. Shrub: No, but whatever you say, George.
McGee looks at both as if they are stupid, then regains his composure and continues with what he was going to say.
McGee: Sir, I think you need some elocution lessons.
Shrub: Elocution? Isn’t that what they do to prisoners in Texas? I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!
McGee: No, sir, that’s electrocution. Elocution is the art of speaking well. You need to learn to speak better.
Shrub: Oh, in that case, sure, that sounds like a good idea. When do I start?
Lights black. When they go back up, HHH is at the table with his wife and Davis. Junior is standing in the corner, with his back to them.
HHH: I hate that man so much! He is so, so, so.....
HHH: stupid. He can’t speak, he can’t talk, he can’t even think for himself. If he wins this thing, I’m going to be so, so, so.....
HHH: Angry. (Pause) Junior, what’s up?
Jr: (turning only his head) Nothing.
HHH: So, what are you doing?
Jr: (angrily) I said “Nothing!”
HHH tries to restart the conversation several times, but can’t get more than a few words in without looking at Jr and losing his place.
HHH: Can you go do nothing somewhere else? You’re kinda freaking me out.
Jr: No! You’re not my mother!
Mrs H: Junior, do what your father tells you.
Jr moves as if to argue, but decides against it and leaves angrily.
HHH: What’s for dinner?
Mrs H: Oysters.
HHH: Ugg. You know I can’t eat oysters.
Davis: Why is that, sir? Because they look like boogers?
HHH: No, not for that reason at all. In fact, I kind of like.... well, never mind about that. But it’s not because they look like boogers. It’s just that when I see a whole oyster, I think: “Hey, that looks like a little house. An oyster lives there.” And I don’t want to break in on an oyster just to have dinner. What if he’s making a pearl? He could have just taken out his pearl-making tools and may be getting ready to get to work. Who am I to interfere with the plans of an oyster?
Mrs. H: You’re the future president, that’s who you are.
HHH: I won’t be the future president if that illiterate-
Davis: Sir, it would be bad if these feelings of yours get out and the public finds out what you think of Mr. Shrub.
HHH: But he’s so-
Davis: Sir! Can you think of anything, anything at all, nice to say about him?
HHH thinks for a long time, more than 10 seconds.
Davis: Well, then this could be a problem.
Mrs H: I’m going to go cook some hot dogs, since you won’t eat my oysters, Herbert. Exits.
Davis: Sir, I figured out how we can get you to be more accepting of Mr. Shrub.
HHH: Why would I want to be more accepting of that stupid piece of-
Davis: Sir! He is a very fine person, and I think you should give him a chance. Just because he is your opponent doesn’t mean-
HHH: It’s not only because he’s my opponent. It’s because he’s an uneducated, lying, sorry excuse for a human being.
Davis: Even if that is so, I want you to talk to a friend of mine. She won’t try to persuade you to like Mr. Shrub, but she’ll help you to hide your feelings so that the public doesn’t find out what you feel of him.
HHH: Ok, I’ll talk to your friend, but don’t expect me to get to like that scum.
Dr Culation is sitting behind his desk. Shrub walks in.
Shrub: Are you Dr. Arthur T. Culation?
DrC: Yes, but call me Arty. Arty Culation (pronounced “articulation”). I will be your speech therapist. Let us get started.
Shrub: So, what do I need to do?
DrC: Your assistant told me that you have a vocabulary problem.
Shrub: He told me that, too, but I don’t know what it means.
DrC: He is right, then. (Hands him a dictionary) This is a dictionary. Have you ever used one of these before?
DrC: Have you ever even seen one?
DrC: Well, this is a junior edition dictionary. You should start with this.
Shrub: What do I do with it?
DrC: You should read through it. There are words in there. (Shrub looks in the dictionary excitedly, as if expecting the words to jump out at him.) You should have known all these words 20 years ago!
Shrub: Oh. When I learn all these words, will I be cured?
DrC: No. Then I will give you a classic dictionary, and finally after that, you will receive from me a collegiate dictionary.
Shrub: And then I’ll be cured?
DrC: You will only be “cured” when you can actually use the words properly.
Shrub: That’s all I have to do?
DrC: (angrily, as though insulted) All you have to do? The English language is one of man’s greatest achievements! If you can master the English language, then you will be able to master the world!
Shrub: (taken aback as if scared to death) Oh.
DrC: I am terribly sorry for my outburst there, but I get offended when people take lightly the language that I have spent my entire life learning.
Shrub: I’m sorry. I’ll take this with me. See you next week, doctor.
DrC: Farewell. (Shrub walks out, dictionary in hand.) This is one of the worst cases I have ever seen. With a father like his, well, the man was President for four years, was he not? One would think that with a father like his, he would at least be literate! Oh, my. I have my work cut out for me with this patient.
Dr. goes back to work as lights black. When they come back up, Dr. Qualize is behind the desk. HHH walks in.
HHH: Dr. Quilize?
DrQ: Yes, Dr Fran Quilize. (Pronounced like “tranquilize”) And you are Mr. (She doesn’t pronounce the “H”) Erb Humphrey?
HHH: Herb! There’s an “H” in my name, is there not?
DrQ: Yes, there is. I am very sorry, sir.
HHH: That’s quite alright. Sometimes I get a little upset over the pronunciation of my name. The kids at my school used to make fun of me all the time. They would call me “parsley” or “thyme” or even “basil”. It was horrible. I’m sure that I was scarred for life because of it.
DrQ: Well, that’s a good start. Come, sit down.
They sit in the middle of the floor. HHH looks confused, but DrQ doesn’t even acknowledge the awkward situation.
DrQ: So, you are here for anger management therapy?
HHH: I guess so.
DrQ: Do you know why your assistant would say you need this therapy?
HHH: He wants me to be nicer to my opponent, but I don’t see why I should be. He is a stupid, lying, pathetic waste of human flesh.
DrQ: I can see where you would be seen as being hostile toward him. Your opponent is George Shrub, right?
HHH: Greg Shrub. I don’t think that I am overly mean to him. He is everything that I have said that he is, and if it’s the truth, it’s not really an insult, is it?
DrQ: (as to herself) This could be harder than I thought it would be. (To HHH) What is the thing that you dislike the most about Mr. Shrub?
HHH: Mostly it is that he is promising education, but he has the lexicon of a third grader. It bothers me to no end.
DrQ: What I want you to do, is to try to think nothing but good thoughts about Mr. Shrub, but if you can’t do that, then just make sure that everything you say about him is nice. Do you think that you can do that?
HHH: It will be nowhere near the easiest thing that I have ever done, but I will try to be nice to that- never mind what he is.
DrQ: Good job, I can already see improvement.
Curtain closes. Reporter 1 and Reporter 3 walk from different sides of the stage, meeting in the middle.
Reporter 1: Guess what I just heard.
Reporter 3: What?
Reporter 1: Shrub is taking speech and vocabulary lessons.
Reporter 3: Really?
Reporter 1: Yeah, but that’s not it. Humphrey is taking, get this, anger management therapy!
Reporter 3: (excitedly) Really?
Reporter 1: Just goes to show you what a sorry state this nation is in.
Reporter 3: I know what you mean.
Reporter 1: That’s why I’m going to vote for my friend’s pet Randy the Rat this year.
Reporter 3: That’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?
Reporter 1: I don’t know. See you later.
Reporter 3: Bye.
They walk off in opposite directions.
Shrub is in the living room with Mrs. Shrub. Shrub is reading the children’s dictionary.
Mrs Shrub: Honey.....
Mrs Shrub: I just thought.....
Shrub: Can’t you see I’m studying?
Mrs Shrub: You haven’t put that book down since you got home from the doctor’s. Are you even doing anything?
Shrub: I’m learning words. The doctor told me that if I can learn to use these words, I’ll be cured, and do you know what that means? It means that they won’t have to elocute me! You don’t want them to elocute me, do you?
Mrs Shrub: No, of course I don’t want them to do that to you, but when do you have to have all those words learned by?
Shrub: Tomorrow, Linda, tomorrow! If I can’t get all these words learned by tomorrow, they’ll elocute me, I’m sure of it! I’ve already learned a few words, but I need to learn some more if I even want to make it look like I tried to learn them. (He drops to his knees in front of Linda)Oh, no! I may never see you again after tomorrow. So, I just want to say: Linda, I love you, I have always loved you, and I will love you forever.
Mrs Shrub: I love you too, Greg! If you never come back, I will never forget you. If you want me to, I will help you learn your words so that they don’t elocute you.
They are both on the verge of tears.
Shrub: That would be more than any man could ask of his wife. I would love for you to help me.
Mrs Shrub: (takes the dictionary from Shrub, helps him onto his chair, and begins reading to him. Curtains begin closing slowly) President?
Shrub: The leader of a country.
Mrs Shrub: Press?
Curtains are fully closed. Reporter 3 and 4 enter from opposite sides of the stage and walk toward each other, meeting in the middle.
Reporter 3: So, it’s true then?
Reporter 4: That’s what I’ve heard, too.
Reporter 3: Personally, I’m not going to vote for either of these fools.
Reporter 4: Who are you voting for, then?
Reporter 3: A friend of mine has a rat, Randy, who’s running. He’s got my vote.
Reporter 4: Randy the Rat? He’s got my vote, too. Both Exit
DrQ is sitting on her desk, meditating. HHH walks in.
HHH: Dr. Qualize? (No response) DOCTOR!
DrQ: (as if just waking up) Oh, yes. Good afternoon, may I help you?
HHH: (hesitatingly) I’m here for my therapy. This is my time, right?
DrQ: Yes, yes it is. I was just (pause, sigh) relaxing.
HHH: I could come back....
DrQ: No, no, I’m ready for you. What did I tell you to do over the last week?
HHH: I was to say nothing bad about Mr. Shrub.
DrQ: And how did this go?
HHH: Very well. Not a derogatory word left my mouth about that vile- honorable man.
DrQ: I guess that’s good. Now, sit down with me. (They sit on the floor again, HHH has his back to her desk. She takes his hand in hers, starts muttering gibberish to herself and swaying around. HHH is very confused, and shows it, but DrQ has her eyes closed. She gets up after a few seconds and motions him to keep sitting. She goes to her desk, grabs a rubber mallet, and knocks him on the head with it. He falls over as if unconscious.) There. When you awake, you will be unable to say anything mean about Mr. Gregory W. Shrub.
She goes back to her desk, puts the mallet back in the drawer, and sits back on the desk, leaving the unconscious HHH on the floor. Lights black. When they come back up, DrC is working at his desk. Shrub walks in.
Shrub: (proudly, trying to show off his new vocabulary) Good afternoon, Doctor Culation. How has your day been progressing?
DrC: My day has been very enjoyable thus far, Mr. Shrub, and what of yours?
Shrub: It’s been very enjoyment as well.
DrC: Have you been looking through your dictionary?
Shrub: (cautiously) Yes.
DrC: Have you learned any new words?
Shrub: (cautiously) Yes.
DrC: Well, what are they?
Shrub: My favorites are “prudent” and “juncture”. My father used those words all the time, though I never knew what they meant.
DrC: Did you learn any other words?
Shrub: (woefully) No. (Fast, as though trying to get it out before the doctor cuts him off) Please doctor, don’t elocute me. I don’t want to die. George told me that you would elocute me if I didn’t learn to speak well, and I know that only learning a few words in a week doesn’t show that I was working very hard but I barely put the dictionary down all week. I tried, I really did doctor. Please don’t elocute me. Please don’t hurt-
DrC: Do not worry Mr. Shrub. I will not harm you. I should let you know that elocute is not a real word. Elocution is the art of speaking well. I do not see how that can hurt you. Then again, I am a linguist, myself. (Laughs at his own joke) Oh, don’t be scared Mr. Shrub. I will not let any harm come to you while you are in my presence.
Shrub: That’s always good. What can I do to make these words sink in more? I try my hardest, but nothing I do works.
Curtain starts closing slowly.
DrC: Well, different things work for different people, but for you, I think.......
Curtain is fully closed. Reporters 4 and 5 walk in together, obviously in the middle of a conversation.
Reporter 4: So, I said to him, “That’s a duck!” (Both break out into hysterical laughter)
Reporter 5: Well, on a different note, you heard about our two wonderful presidential candidates, did you not?
Reporter 4: What, their therapy lessons? Yeah, I heard of that. The more I see of them, the less I like them.
Reporter 5: I know what you mean. I’d rather vote for a rodent than either of them.
Reporter 4: You know what, I am! I know someone who has a pet rat, and I’m going to vote for him.
Reporter 5: Really? Does this rat have a name?
Reporter 4: Randy. Randy the Rat.
Reporter 5: Randy the Rat just got one more vote.
They walk off, still talking.
Jr is standing in a kitchen by a big trash barrel, holding a can of spray cheese. He looks around guiltily, reaches in, grabs a cracker, sprays cheese on it, and eats it. As he goes to do it again, Mrs H walks in.
Mrs H: Herbert Henry Hebert Junior, What are you doing? That’s trash!
Jr: I know. That’s why I’m putting spray cheese on it. It makes it taste better.
Mrs H: You put spray cheese on trash to make it taste better?
Jr: Sure, it always works.
Mrs H: Always works? Do you mean that you’ve done this- never mind. Just toss that can of godawful artery clogger in that trash can and come with me. (They go and sit down on a couch on the other side of the scene) Have you noticed anything different with your father lately?
Mrs H: Nothing at all?
Jr: Well, now that you mention it, he’s been slightly more (spits it out as if it is a swear) cheery lately. (shudders) It’s been kind of weird not to see him walking around grumbling and cursing to himself. Now he (spits it out as if it is a swear) whistles. Ugg.
Mrs H: I noticed that, too. It’s not like your father to be so chipper. I wonder what’s wrong with him. I know, I’ll go talk to Michael about it. You can go now, just don’t ever let me catch you in that trash again, do you hear me?
Jr: Yes, mother. Exits
Mrs H: I wonder where (Davis walks in) Speak of the devil! Just who I wanted to see. (nicely and sweetly) Michael, what have you done to my husband?
Davis: (guiltily) What do you mean?
Mrs H: He’s been acting strange, and I was wondering if you know anything about it.
Davis: Strange? How so?
Mrs H: (up real close to Davis, in a threatening manner) Come on, Michael, you don’t have to play games with me. Tell me what you did with him and I’ll consider letting you live.
Davis: Since you put it so nicely, I sent him to an anger management counselor. I figured he needed it. Is there a problem with that?
Mrs H: (back to nice, kind, sweet self) No, I was just wondering why he was acting differently. Thank you. (Davis leaves like he is scared for his life. HHH walks in.) Hi, honey.
HHH: Hi! What seems to be the matter, Henrietta dearest?
Mrs H: What have you been doing while you were away from home these last few weeks?
HHH: Whatever do you mean? I have been doing the same things that I always do.
Mrs H: Alright, in that case, what do you think of Mr. Gregory W. Shrub?
HHH: I feel that he is a very fine man and a worthy opponent.
Mrs H: (angrily) Where have you really been?
HHH: I went to see an anger management therapist, dear. I had hoped that you wouldn’t mind.
Mrs H: I don’t mind, I just want you to be truthful with me, is that ok?
Mrs H: (threateningly) Now, you won’t ever leave this house without me knowing exactly where you are, right?
HHH: Right, my beloved.
Mrs H: You can run along and play now. (HHH leaves) I’ve got all of them right under my thumb.
Lights black. When they come up, Shrub is pacing around, waiting for McGee.
Shrub: What should I do to him? Fire him? Reprimand (says it “rep-ree-mand”, then looks around, proud that he used his new word) him? Brutally murder him and throw his body in the river? No, that’s no good. I’ll just ask him why he lied to me and try to set it straight from there. That’s what I’ll do. I wonder where he is. GEORGE!
McGee comes scampering into the room
McGee: You bellowed, sir?
Shrub: Yes, I did. Why did you imply that if I didn’t learn to speak well, then they would elocute me? I know now that elocute isn’t even a word. What are you trying to do to me?
McGee: I never suggested that, sir. I only suggested that you get elocution lessons, and you took it to mean that they would electrocute you. That’s not my fault.
Shrub: (confused) Oh, alright then. Continue with whatever you were doing before I called for you.
McGee Exits. Shrub picks up the new big dictionary, and sits on the floor to read it.
Shrub and HHH are back in their opening positions, flanking the podium.
Announcer: The candidates will make one final speech before the vote. First, Gregory W. Shrub. (Crowd applauds, Shrub walks forward.)
Shrub: My fellow citizens, I would like to say that if you voted for me, then you made the right choice. If I am elected, I pledge myself to strengthen your communities and make education a possibility for every child in this great nation of ours. Shrub walks off to polite applause.
Announcer: Finally, Herbert H. Hebert. HHH walks forward, also to polite applause.
HHH: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say that if I am not elected, you will still have a very capable and honorable president. The man behind me (points to Shrub) is a fine politician and an excellent opponent. He would be an admirable choice for president. Walks off to stunned silence, followed by polite applause.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please vote now. (Reporters and crowd walk quickly off stage and return, one by one to their seats. When all are seated, Announcer comes back on.)
Announcer: And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the winner of this year’s presidential election is.... Randy the Rat?
The crowd erupts into thunderous applause. Reporter 1 walks forward with a stuffed rat and puts it on the podium. HHH and Shrub look at each other, surprised.
Reporter 1: Since Randy can’t speak for himself, I would like to thank all of you on his behalf. This is a great honor, not only for Randy, but for me as well. I would just like to thank (pulls a list out of his pocket) God, my family, all my teachers and friends growing up, my manager, my record label, YOU GUYS ROCK!, Bob, Bill......
Curtain closes as he continues.