copyright © 2004 Todd Ristau

The Pathos of Mortichi Krable

by todd wm. ristau

(38 year old man walks on in loin cloth, crown of thorns, sandals and carrying a rough, hand hewn cross)

Hey. (pause) My name is Mortichi Krable, semi-professional Jesus impersonator. Or I was, I’ve decided to retire.

I know, you'd think I'd be able to ride the wave of this Mel Gibson movie thing, but I’m 40 now....and I’m not going to do that Ted Neely vanity revival trip--rising from the dead after 30 years to play the role again on Broadway. He’s an actor, he’s not immortal.

No, it's time to retire the cross, the sandals, and the nails.

Don’t get the idea that I’m quitting because you dogs don’t deserve what is holy. I mean, sure, you trample on my pearls, well, that’s my fault, because I didn’t recognize you were swine. Right?

Plenty of times out on the road I’d lay down some word and college guys would just attack me, and beat the crap out of me, saying, "Where’s your God now you fucking Jesus freak?"

Sure, it gets to you. But it didn’t break me.

I mean, you try to get the word out to those who can hear it, but how long can you scream at a deaf man before you give up? And then you try learning sign language, right? But instead of knocking out your teeth, they break your fucking fingers.

Your average hard core Jesus impersonator doesn’t carry insurance--it seems like a lack of faith. I mean, He means it when He says go out like sheep in the middle of wolves, let them drag you into court, whip you at the synagogues, be dragged in front of the Governor for His sake--be hated by all for my name’s sake, flee from town to town but above all endure!

I have fled and I have far. And no farther.

One summer I tried to organize the Million Jesus March on Washington, I organized maybe 100 of the best known professional Jesuses, even tried to get Ted Neely on board, but he wouldn’t go for it, said it would be bad press. Bad press to dress up like Jesus and try to get America to live a more moral life, instead of dressing up like Jesus to try and win a fucking Tony award. Or an Oscar. Or Twenty Million Dollars on opening weekend.

Pretty smart to open on Ash Wednesday and get churches all over the country to pray for you and buy out all the seats in hundreds of theatres and offer them free to sinners. Good marketing. Some risk you took there, Mel.

For 20 plus years I have tried to get the message out by portraying our Savior in a way that people could see, hear, touch, and feel. I never got rich in a material sense. No, I don’t even own this loincloth. How much do you suppose James Caviezel is gonna make off playing the part? A lot more than 30 pieces of silver.

All I ever got was a little coin for Roman re-enactor galas, and regular paychecks during the summer passion play circuit. I played all the apostles, but I never got to play Jesus.

Well, once.

I was in Arkansas one summer, playing the role of Peter, and the guy playing Jesus weighed in at around 300 pounds. Well, this was an indoor passion play and Big Fat Jesus goes into the sepulcher when he’s buried and there’s an interlude like before the ascension, when he is risen from the dead he is flown by pulleys up into the fly space around 40 feet above the stage. Now, I don’t know if any of you know about how these fly things work, but they are very carefully counterweighted on one side of the stage, so that the guy just flips a lever and the rope is released and these counterweights on the other side just gently let him rise up out and go on into Heaven. Well, this Big Fat Jesus would slip out of the tomb and have a smoke every night before getting into the fly harness. Then one night the light in the tomb isn’t working and Jesus hits his head on the back door of the tomb and needs about a dozen stitches.

They come get me as the Jesus understudy and strap me in, but no one tells the stage hand-I am not a 300 pound Jesus, and I weighed about 60 pounds less in those days than I do now.

He hits the switch and the audience sees Jesus come flying out of the tomb like a rocket and I'm screaming the whole way to Heaven-then there’s this sickening thud when my head hits the grid....and then one by one my sandals drop to the stage.

I never did a passion play again.

Not because of the head injury, no, because the whole thing was false.

The audience wanted to be entertained, not shown the truth. I found that out when they fired me in Alabama for mingling with the audience after the show. If I said, "Oh, thank you so much, you really thought my Peter was wonderful?" everything was fine. But, if I tried to steal the crutches from someone who wouldn't accept that I’d healed them, that's WRONG.

Then I got arrested for having people actually nail me to a cross.

(pause) You can't appreciate the Passion of the Christ by suffering through three hours of slow motion torture in air conditioned comfort and $12 worth of popcorn in your lap!

(pause) But, there you go. After all these years, suddenly I'm a tacky imitation and the only reality people want is the one Mad Max is selling them. If he had real Christian balls he would have put his own fucking money into making the movie and then given it to people for free, but instead he's got an email campaign of people praying for it to out gross every other movie ever made...

Well, go on then, if that's the kind of Christ you want, follow your own hearts, but you won’t have this Jesus to kick around anymore.

I’m outta here.

(he exits without cross or thorns...lights out)


[Todd Ristau's website] [Ristau Entertainment Ltd.]

[Back to Library] Home