H/T to Darragh Murphy, who suggested that the play be expanded. Thanks, Darragh!
THE SCENE: A game show set, modeled on “Jeopardy.” The host, DREW CAREY, stands at a podium, behind which is a giant flat screen. It currently shows President Barack Obama’s smiling face, with the Possum seal behind it.
Across the set from CAREY are three podiums, with a contestant standing at each podium. The contestants are BOB HERBERT of The New York Times, LOUIS DIUGUID of The Kansas City Star, and JOE THE PLUMBER. The lead-in music – “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” from Avenue Q – concludes as the lights come up. The audience applauds wildly.
CAREY: Thank you, thank you everyone! Gosh, it’s great to be here with you. You may not know this, but we’re celebrating a very special occasion tonight – the 100th episode of America’s favorite game show, everybody say it with me now:
AUDIENCE and CAREY (shouting): “Guess Who’s The Racist!”
CAREY: That’s right! Every Tuesday night on “Guess Who’s The Racist,” we all come together and find the hidden racism within people like you and me! The panelist who has the most correct answers gets an all-expenses-paid trip to ObamaWorld, located right next to Universal Studios in lovely Hollywood, California.
AUDIENCE (on cue): Oooooh!
CAREY: Ooooh indeed! Well, let’s start the show. Because it’s a special night, we’ve got some celebrities with us! First, we’ve got Bob Herbert, columnist for The New York Times, who was savvy enough to spot racism in all of its nasty forms during the 2008 election.
HERBERT (waving): Hello, America!
CAREY: And next, we have the incomparable Louis Diuguid of The Kansas City Star, who proved to Americans that the word “socialist” was a racial slur in October of 2008!
DIUGUID (waving): Helllloooooo!
CAREY: And finally, we have Joe The Plumber, who was used by both President Obama and John McCain in the primaries as a campaign prop. Joe has been spending the last few months in a Racism Rehabilitation Camp in Walla Walla, Washington. Let’s give him a big hand, and hope he’s learned enough to match the competitiveness of these two amazing players!
JOE (waving): Hi!
AUDIENCE: BOOOOOOOO!!! RACIST! WHITE SUPREMACIST! BOOOOOOO!
(Joe looks puzzled and hurt, and drops his hand.)
CAREY: All right, take it easy, folks. It’s not Joe’s fault he’s a racist; it’s just because he’s from a rural area and bitter about it. He’s trying really hard, honestly he is. Let’s see how he does on our first question. Are you ready, panelists?
CAREY: All righty then. As you know, our tradition is to take a quote from a newsworthy person, and without telling you who said it, determine whether that person is a racist or not. Take a look at the screen behind me, if you will.
(The screen changes to display a quote.)
CAREY (reading the quote): “The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans. From the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth (in a barn in a township that was under the Apartheid Roman government that said his daddy had to be in), up to and including the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death on a cross, a Roman cross, public lynching Italian style…”
(The panelists ponder for a moment.)
CAREY: Now, if you think that quote is racist, tap the “R” on your podium touchscreen. If you think it’s okay, tap the “O” on your touchscreen. The results will appear on the screen behind me. All right, everyone, you have fifteen seconds to make your choice. Go!
(A clock ticks loudly for fifteen seconds, as the screen displays the count. As the last five seconds count down, the audience counts along with it, yelling:)
AUDIENCE: FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE! TIME’S UP!
CAREY: All right, folks, let’s see who guessed right.
(The panelists’ votes appear on the screen: Herbert: “O”, Diuguid “O”, Joe The Plumber “R.”)
CAREY: And the correct answer is: “O”, Okay! One point for Bob and Louis, zero points for Joe.
JOE (interrupting): Excuse me. How can calling Italians “garlic noses” not be racist?
CAREY (jolted out of his routine): What?
JOE (emboldened): You heard me, Drew! That is an incredibly offensive statement. Am I right, people?
AUDIENCE (shouting): BOOOOOOOO!
CAREY (shushing them): Now, now, folks, take it easy on poor Joe. He doesn’t understand that it’s not the statement itself, it’s who said it. And who said it is our beloved Secretary of Faith-Based Initiatives, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. So how can a holy man like that be a racist?
DIUGUID: You speak the truth!
(The other panelists, the audience and CAREY look at Joe expectantly.)
JOE (after a brief pause): Ah, forget it. (looks into the wings, stage right) Take me back to the camp, boys.
(Two tall men garbed in white robes, each with a large “O” badge over their hearts, grab Joe’s arms and take him away.)
CAREY (smoothly): Well, folks, looks like there’s room for one more spot up here. Anyone care to volunteer?
(A brief silence. Then, a woman stands up.)
WOMAN: I want to go with Joe The Plumber. He’s hot. And this show sucks! Racism is racism, no matter who says it. Screw you, Drew!
(Two more white-robed men grab the woman and haul her out of the audience.)
CAREY (uncomfortable): Ha ha ha, lots of jokers on the show tonight! Let’s go to commercial while we pick another panelist.
(The music starts up again.)
HERBERT: Ha! Drew, do you believe these clowns?
DIUGUID: Yeah, what a bunch of idiots! How dare they question The One?
CAREY (menacingly): Don’t worry, guys. We’ll find plenty of volunteers to take Joe’s place, once our civilian national security force convinces them to help out. After all, no one wants to be called a racist today, especially considering the consequences.
HERBERT: Praise Obama!
DIUGUID: Praise Obama!
CAREY: Yes indeed!
(CAREY’s cellphone rings.)
CAREY: Hello? No way. Really? Well, send him in! (To the audience) Well, folks, you’re not going to believe it. Senator John Kerry was in the audience tonight, and he has agreed to take the place of Joe The Plumber as our third contestant! Senator Kerry, get out here!
(The audience cheers wildly as JOHN KERRY ambles out onto the stage and shakes CAREY’s hand.)
CAREY: Great to see you, Senator!
KERRY: Great to be here, Drew. Call me John.
CAREY: Will do, John. Can we go back live now? (The music dies away as KERRY takes his place at the podium, glad-handing HERBERT and DIUGUID. CAREY takes his place once again at his own podium.)
CAREY: Annnnnd, we’re back, with our new, surprise guest panelist, the junior Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kerry! Let’s give John a hand for being such a good sport!
(The audience applauds wildly.)
CAREY: All right, John, you’re coming in at a deficit. As you know, Joe The Plumber missed the first question, while the other panelists got it right. So, let’s see how you do on this one.
(The screen behind him changes to reveal a quote.)
CAREY (reading quote): “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”
(The panelists ponder again. The clock starts up with the same routine as before. After the audience yells “TIME’S UP!”, the panelists’ scores are shown on the screen: HERBERT “O”, DIUGUID “O”, KERRY “R.”)
CAREY: And the correct answer is: “O!” Looks like our original panelists are doing great. But John, you’re two? down now. What gives?
KERRY: Well, I was for the “R” before I was against it, Drew!
(Everyone laughs, including KERRY.)
KERRY: But seriously, how can that statement not be racist? I mean, Drew, it has the word racist in it!
HERBERT: Come on, John, have you ever BEEN to western Pennsylvania? Boy howdy, nothing but ignorant rednecks out that way!
(Everyone laughs. The AUDIENCE begins to mumble discontentedly.)
A MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: Hey! I have family in Johnstown!
DIUGUID (ignoring the man): No kidding. Besides, the guy who said it was Congressman Jack Murtha, am I right, Drew? And we all know he’s been a strong supporter of Our Dear Leader, which gives you an automatic pass on any racism charge. Praise Obama!
(The AUDIENCE starts murmuring louder.)
A WOMAN IN THE AUDIENCE: I’ve had enough of this crap. You guys are all idiots. I want my money back!
A MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: Me too!
(The AUDIENCE has had it. They all file out of the studio’s back doors as CAREY and the three panelists watch in shock.)
CAREY (stunned and desperately gesturing to the sound man to cue up the music): Well, um, that about does it for our show tonight. Thanks to all of our panelists for their excellent work, and it looks like Bob and Louis are going to ObamaLand together! What a great 100th episode! Good night, everyone!
(The music swells. The giant screen changes to show President Obama’s face again. CAREY and the panelists walk towards each other and meet in the middle of the stage.)
CAREY: What the hell just happened?
HERBERT: Beats the hell out of me. I thought the show was incredible!
KERRY (stepping towards HERBERT): Uh, Bob, if I may, it might have been better if you hadn’t insulted the audience.
DIUGUID (stepping towards KERRY): HA! So speaks the dumbest ex-presidential candidate ever!
KERRY (stepping towards DIUGUID): How dare you, sir!
HERBERT (stepping towards KERRY): How dare YOU, John?
(The panelists start hurling insults at each other. The word “racist!” is heard more than once.)
CAREY: Uh-oh. (gesturing towards the left wing of the stage) Boys?
(Three men in white robes and “O” badges take the three brawlers away.)
CAREY (looking around at the empty stage): Well, well, well. Everyone’s gone. Now what am I going to do? I guess this show is toast.
(CAREY’s cell phone rings.)
CAREY: Hello? Mr. – Mr. President! How are you, sir? (wipes sweat off his brow) Oh, ha ha, you saw the show, did you? Quite exciting, eh? Oh. You didn’t like it? (wipes more sweat off his brow) What’s that? You want me to host a new show? It’s called “You’re Under The Bus, Drew?” I don’t get it, sir. (holds phone away from his ear as Obama shouts) Oh. Oh. I get it, sir. Yes, sir. I understand. Praise – Praise You. Good-bye. (hangs up)
CAREY: Well, I guess there’s always “The Price Is Right.”
Cross-posted at The Confluence