I'm Sorry You're Happy, A body of work created by Mark Charney and Jarred Elrod

The Round Glen
IMAGE 01: The Round Glen (presented to begin Volley)

THE JESTER JEW

(JEFF & GRAYSON, two guys in their mid-twenties, are sitting in Jeff’s living room, Jeff slouches on the couch and Grayson inhabits a nearby chair.)

GRAYSON
You’re fucked. You know that.

JEFF
Why? Because of my theory that Christ is like the ultimate Jester.

GRAYSON
Blasphemy man! Christ, a jester?

JEFF
You may very well think that such a belief may send me straight to hell, but you must understand the context lest you misunderstand my intentions.

GRAYSON
Or not. Lest? Sheesh.

JEFF
No. Really. Shut up for a minute and listen. Visualize, don’t criticize. Imagine that mankind is composed of enormous masses of people, not unlike ants, who try hard to impose reason upon the nonsense they’ve been given/

GRAYSON
Given? By whom?

JEFF
You have to wait.

GRAYSON
I could wait, or you could just be, like, specific when you tell a fucking story.

JEFF
Damnit Grayson, gimme a break. All will be revealed.

GRAYSON
I’m not good with stories.

JEFF
Although you tell them all the time.

GRAYSON
I’m not good with listening then, maybe.

JEFF
No. You’re not. But this isn’t a story; it’s more of a concept, a philosophical treatise if you will.

GRAYSON
I hate that expression, if you will. It implies the listener will, and doesn’t really offer him or her the opportunity to, like, will NOT. In other words, it’s total nonsense. JEFF Jesus, you’re difficult.

GRAYSON
I’m a tough audience.

JEFF
Hell yeah you are. So OK. Enough. Get this. In spite of everyone’s struggle to accept faith and all, what if Jesus DID exist, but he was the ultimate, like, jester?

GRAYSON
You’ve said that.

JEFF
And this Jesus, well, he called folks over to him, sort of like a bud or something—his arm extended in friendship—and he is so glorious and beautiful and ethereal that you immediately want to nustle your shoulder under his arm to feel protected and safe and all.

GRAYSON
Nustle? Is that even a word?

JEFF
And when you did, nustle under that arm of warmth and protection and acceptance and beauty and love and such, you may just think, “Hey, I may be Jewish and everything but this is an accepting God and maybe I was wrong about his not being the son of God and all because he seems to be all that and more, just like he’s reputed to be.

GRAYSON
Go on. I’m learning a lot about your Jew boy insecurities.

JEFF
And you even revise the old grammar or lexicon and everything because running through your mind you know that now you’ll capitalize the H in He, since He is obviously, like at least half, or maybe more than half, God like. Or God entirely. Or maybe even that trinity cause he seems at least three times you or me, you know? He. He does.

GRAYSON
Well, no I don’t know, but I’m taking your word on it, unless you don’t get to the point in like three seconds. That would be a trinity of seconds.

JEFF
And when you feel at your most secure, he would walk you over to this area, all the while chatting with this mellifluous voice and all/

GRAYSON
Mellifluous?

JEFF
It means/

GRAYSON
I know what it means ass wipe. I’m just surprised you do.

JEFF
...all the while chatting with this mellifluous voice and all, and you’ve be like on the edge of the world, almost floating off it, when Jesus would stop at this glen, all green and round and smooth and beautiful/

GRAYSON
Round? A round, smooth glen?

JEFF
And beautiful, and before you know it, this lever would appear from like out of nowhere, and Jesus would quickly pull it thus opening the earth, and down you would fall into an almost never ending chute that didn’t even to lead to hell or anything, just you falling and falling and shit like Alice in Goddamned wonderland and you all the time thinking, “I’ve been fucking punked by the Lord!”

GRAYSON
(laughing) Yeah?

JEFF
And Jesus, merry prankster that he is, would lean over as you began to fall, lean over really far and yell as you were sinking for enternity, “Gotcha!” Cause you’re a heathen Jew and all.

GRAYSON
Man.

JEFF
Right?

GRAYSON
Jester Jew huh?

JEFF
You got it.

GRAYSON
Pretty dismal view of humanity, huh there Jeff?

JEFF
It makes sense to me. I find it, well, comforting.

GRAYSON
(standing) Whereas I find it much more comforting to leave this evil, destructive environment. Toodles anus. (Grayson heads towards the door and opens it, but before he exits, her turns around quickly, pulling a lever that appears right beside him. As Jeff and the couch disappear into the darkness, all the while Jeff yelling.)

GRAYSON
Gotcha!

END

Target Practice
IMAGE RESPONSE 02: Target Practice

GOTCHA!

We are at a bizarre funeral site joining a series of mourners. GRAYSON is there, a handsome devil in his mid-twenties dressed in red shorts and a t-shirt, and the departed Jeff’s best friend. Jeff’s parents are there, ROSALIND & JAMISON, appropriately bereaved and attired. And three of Jeff’s fraternity brothers, who respond individually to names ONE, TWO, & THREE, and together to the name CHORUS. They are dressed lavishly, ONE from the Roman Empire, TWO from the Middle Ages, & THREE from the Restoration. Dusk is falling & the moon and the sun are fighting for prominence. They await the RABBI.

ONE
We called him Mutt and.

ROSALIND
Mutt AND?

TWO
For Mutt and. You know.

JAMISON
I’m afraid we don’t son.

THREE
For Mutt and Jeff man. Mutt AND Jeff. You know.

ROSALIND
So you called our son Mutton?

THREE
Emphasis on the AND. Mutt AND, Mrs. Steinmetz. Not the lamb, but the comic strip.

TWO
Mint jelly. Ummm. Leg o’ lamb?

JAMISON
Well. I’m sure that he appreciated it.

ONE
He hated it actually.

TWO
With all of his heart.

THREE
And soul. If he has one. (They snicker ominously.)

ROSALIND
But you ignored him.

TWO
Ribbing is ribbing. No one likes it.

ONE
Right of passage.

THREE
And now he’s passed. (The three take off their headgear, and in some elaborate gesture particular to the period in which they are dressed, salute the dark hole.)

CHORUS
And we are sorry. We will miss your Jewish son.

JAMISON
Boys. (They whimper, together .... look very unpleased.)

JAMISON
Men. (They perk up.)

JAMISON
How did this happen? I mean, can someone explain first, how this vast hole came into being, and second, how our son became its first victim? (The chorus looks down, shuffles,ahems and ahas until finally they look towards GRAYSON, in choreographed movement. Jamison and Rosalind follow suit.)

JAMISON
Can you help us son?

(Pause)

ROSALIND
Please. We only know that he fell. Nothing more.

(Pause)

CHORUS
(accusatorily) Grayson?

GRAYSON
I guess it falls to me now Steinmetz’s, to solve this mystery and put your minds to rest, although you and I both know, there is no rest for the departed. Or the recently parted.

CHORUS
Or ONLY rest, as the case may be.

GRAYSON
Granted that. It’s a condundrum.

JAMISON
And so?

GRAYSON
This couldn’t be more awkward, but to summarize, your son created his own doom, dug his own grave. Asked for it, as the case may be. (They all look at the rectangular hole.)

ROSALIND
No one can dig a hole that deep, not unless he worked on it for years, and I know Jeff did not spend his time on such endeavors. He was a serious young man, destined for greatness. Jeffrey wanted to practice law.

GRAYSON
Think metaphorically, my dear Mrs. Steinmetz. The literal has no place underneath a sky where the moon and the sun battle for prominence. (The chorus look straight up.)

ONE
It’s bright. TWO It’s dim.

THREE
It’s gray.

CHORUS
It’s CONFUSING.

GRAYSON
You must know your son was not comfortable in his own skin, or foreskin, or lack of foreskin, as the case may be. (whispering) He was Jewish you know.

JAMISON
What?

GRAYSON
(a bit louder) He was JEWISH you know.

ROSALIND
Well, of course we know. He was our son.

GRAYSON
He was not a comfortable Jew, in other words. A Jew without solace.

ONE
A Jew without a home.

TWO
A Jew without a country.

THREE
A Jew without a soul.

ROSALIND
He never said a word to us.

JAMISON
He was bar mitzvahed with flying colors. Even got a commendation from Rabbi Korb.

GRAYSON
Success not withstanding, he talked constantly of a vengeful God, a jester Jesus bent on revenge.

CHORUS
(singing softly) Jester Jesus. Jester Jesus.

GRAYSON
And this Jesus, this jokester Jesus...

CHORUS
...Jokester Jesus, Jokester Jesus...

GRAYSON
...as your son would frame it, tricked him into friendship by holding his arm out like this... (He extends both of his arms, and encourages the Steinmetz’s each to come under one. They resist, but he continually motions, almost flapping his arms until Rosalind goes to his left and Jamison his right.) (Grayson sighs.) All is right with the world.

GRAYSON
Jeff called this nustling, even though I challenged its existence as a word.

ROSALIND
If Jeff said it was nustling, well then it is.

JAMISON
I’ve never felt more nustled.

GRAYSON
He was certainly the son of his parents then, was he not?

CHORUS
...Jester Jesus...Jokester Jew...

GRAYSON
...and with his arms extended, as Jeff recounted, his subjects lulled into a false sense of security...

CHORUS
...Jester Jew...Jester Jew...

GRAYSON
...he reached out towards the earth...(A lever appears).

GRAYSON
...and...

JAMISON
He pulls it. Like so!! (Jamison pulls the lever triumphantly and jumps back, Rosalind with him.)

JAMISON & ROSALIND
Gotcha!!!

(Nothing happens. They pull again.)

JAMISON & ROSALIND
Gotcha!!! Nothing happens. They pull again. (The ground opens up beneath them, creating another hole, deeper than before. It swallows them both.)

CHORUS
...Jester Jesus...Jester Jesus...

GRAYSON
(looks to the sky; the moon seems to be winning, but he can’t be sure) Damn you moon! Damn you sun! You unforgiving harbingers of nature! He looks into the new hole.

GRAYSON
(looking to the heavens, then to the chorus) To the pub gentlemen. (They depart. After a time, RABBI KORB comes. He stands beneath both holes, pulls out the Talmud, and begins to read.)

END

"Gotcha" Leads to an Additional Monologue

MONOLOGUE: from “The Conversion of the Jews”

The play you are about to see is called The Conversion of the Jews. I will say right now,that you will probably find it controversial, but please watch it in the spirit that it is offered, controversially. (he laughs) You all know the stereotype that describes Jews as guilt ridden.

Well, my comedy posits that Hitler was not a real person, but an entity, a fabrication, if you will, who was created to preserve the Jewish faith, to keep it intactamidst great societal and economic change.

Let me explain.

You see, in Conversion, elder Jews in Germany who are dismayed by the waning faith of their children and grandchildren, invent the Holocaust to guilt the younger generation into having a reason to continue the Orthodox traditions. They understand that, only by facing such a monumental catastrophe, will their children find a reason to maintain the strict tenets of Judaism, especially as they transition to a new country and adopt new customs.

So they invent Hitler and his atrocities. And, yes, they walk willingly into the gas chambers, the ultimate sacrifice. Great material for a comedy, don’t you agree?

If you can’t do that, walk willingly into death to preserve what you believe, then you don’t deserve to wear the Star.

END

Sledgehammer Guilt
IMAGE RESPONSE 03: Sledgehammer Guilt

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© Elrod & Charney, 2013