THE ANIMAL ACT
By Dwayne Yancey
Copyright 2004; all rights reserved.
(The dressing room of a show biz entertainer whose career has seen its better days. Its a seedy, second-rate room in a second-rate town. Eddie, the entertainer, sits on a chair, tired and disillusioned. Now hes been roped into doing an animal act with a monkey. His manager, Sid, opens the door and sticks his head in.)
SID: Five minutes before you go back on, Eddie.
EDDIE: Im not going back out there, Sid.
SID: What do you mean youre not going back out there? They loved you in the first act.
EDDIE: You heard me. Im not going back out there.
SID: Whoa, whoa, whoa, talk to me, Eddie, talk to me. Whats gotten into you, pal?
EDDIE: You know whats gotten into me.
SID: Its your partner, isnt it?
EDDIE: Oh, so now hes my partner, is he?
SID: Well, uh, yeah. In a two-man act, theyre usually called partners, right? Sometimes youve got a straight man and a funny man, a straight man and a sidekick, but either way theyre partners.
EDDIE: But hes not a man, Sid.
SID: Oh, that, well, that thats nothing.
EDDIE: Its not nothing! Hes not a man, Sid! Hes a monkey! Hes a monkey and youre elevating him to the rank of my partner!
SID: The audience loves it, Eddie. Theyre eating it up. They cant get enough.
EDDIE: You mean they cant get enough of him!
SID: Does it matter, Eddie? Theyre laughing. Theyre paying their admission!
EDDIE: Of course, it matters!
SID: Not quite sure how, but have it your way.
EDDIE: I want them to be laughing at me! Not him! Not some ape!
SID: Hes a chimpanzee
EDDIE: Ape, monkey, baboon, orangutan, whatever. Theyre all the same. Its an animal act, Sid! Youve got me in an animal act!
SID: Animal acts are very popular these days!
EDDIE: But I used to be able to make the room laugh on my own, Sid. I didnt need some some damned monkey!
SID: Yeah, well, what can I say, Eddie? Those were different days.
EDDIE: Yeah, youre right. Those were different days. I was a headliner in those days. Well, almost. I headlined that one night in Cleveland when the top of the bill came down sick.
SID: Lets face it, Eddie. The old jokes just werent moving em anymore. You needed some new material.
EDDIE: Then let me work on some new material! I can come up with new material! Just give me time.
SID: Ive given you new material, Eddie. His names Bo-Bo.
EDDIE: Aarggh! Youre not listening to me, Sid. Im tired of playing second fiddle to some animal! Its its demeaning! Thats what it is. Its demeaning.
SID: He doesnt complain much about you. So why are you so worked up over him?
EDDIE: Thats it. That does it. Im firing him, Sid. Im firing him. Im not doing the animal act anymore. From here on out, its just me. Just like it was in the old days.
SID: Uh, well, weve got a little problem there then.
EDDIE: What problem is that?
SID: Youve signed a contract, son.
EDDIE: So? Ive always had contracts.
SID: Yeah, but this contract is with the agency, Eddie.
SID: So the agency owns Bo-Bo.
EDDIE: I still dont get it. You can find somebody else to stand there and be a straight man for the damned monkey. Im going to do my own thing.
SID: Well, you may have to do it on your own in Poughkeepsie then. You cant do it on the tour.
EDDIE: What are you talking about?
SID: The contract, Eddie. See, I didnt really want to break it to you, but the only way the agency agreed to book you on this tour was if you did the act with Bo-Bo.
EDDIE: You mean ?
SID: Thats right, Eddie. No animal, no act.
EDDIE: You mean Im working for the damned monkey then?
SID: Well, if you want to look at it that way.
EDDIE: Geez! What have you done to me, Sid?
SID: Look, man, I was trying to help you, pal. I knew a lot of the old jokes were falling flat and you werent getting many jobs, so I thought Id help. You know, thought itd give your career a second wind.
EDDIE: I think the second wind was the monkey
G. (He makes a gesture to indicate the monkey smells bad, or perhaps has flatulence.)
SID: You know he likes you, Eddie.
EDDIE: Who does?
SID: Bo-Bo. He didnt much like his last handler, er, partner, but he likes you.
EDDIE (sadly): Yeah? What about the agency?
SID: They like the bottom line, Eddie. As long as you and Bo-Bo keep putting people in the seats, theyll like you.
EDDIE: And if we dont?
SID: Well, considering the investment theyve got in that monkey, theyd probably replace you first.
EDDIE: With who?
SID: Oh, I dont know. Probably somebody like Johnny Weatherington.
EDDIE: Johnny Weatherington? Geez, he was washed up ten years ago.
SID: Hes said to be good with animals, Eddie. Hes not so good with his ex-wives, but hes said to be good with animals. You dont want to be Johnny Weatherington, Eddie.
More to the point, you dont want Johnny Weatherington to be you.
EDDIE: Geez. You sure have a way of putting things, dont you Sid?
SID: Sorry, pal. Its my job.
EDDIE: But I get to keep first billing, right? Dont put my name after the monkeys.
SID: I wont make any promises I cant keep. Lets just see how it goes. Now come on, its one minute to show time.
EDDIE: All right. Just give me a minute to get back in character, OK?
(Sid exits. Eddie sits, and stares at the mirror for a moment. Then lights fade out.)
-------- THE END -------
Cast of characters -- two males
Eddie, a washed-up entertainer now roped into an animal act with a monkey
Sid, his manager
1791 Mount Pleasant Church Road
Fincastle, VA 24090
Days: 540 981 3113
Nights: 540 473 3313
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Performed by Todd Ristau and Randy Mayes