First off, I am both surprised and gratified by all the comments my last blog post is getting from current and former postal workers. Thanks for finding the blog, thanks for reading, and thanks for the supportive comments. I can only hope that some of my other posts, less directly related to your own struggles, can also entertain you. On that note…
Gonna try to blog a lot more this week to make up for a lengthy absence. And to continue hammering it in as a habit. And clearly, I’ve stumbled onto the one thing my audience craves.
I kid. Now, I’ve pretty much exhausted my supply of post office stories (save for the odd case of the dude on 12th Ave), and I don’t have any past regrets I need to send an open letter to just now (not to say I’m out of regrets, just that I don’t feel a need to discuss any of them) so it’s time to return to my ongoing re-examination of my old scripts.
The year was 2000, Lethargic Lad had just wrapped, and things continued to get silly in the spy parody Supervillain!
What’s it about?
Former henchman-turned-supervillain Hank Scorpio has a vision: that the global domination game can be won if you’re just willing to avoid all the classic mistakes villains love to make and be smart about things. With his temp/Grand Vizier Jake McCoy, chief enforcer Katya Greatsex, and the prophet Tellius, he sets out to prove the bad guy can win. Opposing him is arrogant superspy Jack Bunt, whose list of defeated villains is almost as long as his list of female assistants killed in action, and his new assistant Jessica Sydoskyk, who he refers to as “Sidekick.”
Hank must foil the spies and rule the world, without giving in and telling Bunt all the details of the plan. But… it’s such a good plan, it seems a shame not to talk about it…
So why did that happen?
Two sources of influence here: first of all, an email forward titled “Things I will do when I am a supervillain,” a list poking fun at classic villain screw-ups like assuming your death-trap will kill the hero or buying into statements like “He’s just one man, what can he do?” Second, the Simpsons episode You Only Move Twice, in which Homer goes to work for charming, friendly, boss-of-the-year supervillain Hank Scorpio. Yeah, not even going to try to deny the connection there. What point would there be? I named my theatre company after him, I’m not going to be able to claim the character name is a coincidence.
So after reading the villain list, I became enamoured with the notion of a villain actually trying to avoid the cliche screw-ups, and decided to give that story a whirl. I also threw in a trope Terry Pratchett often took shots at, the trope of the sinister Grand Vizier who will inevitably turn on his master. Hiring a random temp, Jake, as Grand Vizier was Scorpio’s attempt to circumvent that.
How’d it turn out?
Fairly funny, I’d say. Funny enough that it made a return appearance to the stage a full eight years later, with only minimal polish.
Some of the jokes are a little forced. Some of the banter remained too wordy. But a lot of the humour holds up okay. The many trials of Sidekick, from dealing with Bunt’s blunt-object approach to espionage to the unwanted advances of Katya, still entertain me. Hank and Jake make a decent comedy duo when the banter’s clicking. Bunt’s cavalier disregard for Sidekick’s safety still makes me chuckle. It’s rough in places, sure, but there’s still an appeal under it all.
We also tried a gimmick when this play first went up: alternate endings. We gave the audience the chance to say how they thought the play should end, and if we used theirs the next night they got in free. The idea was that they’d bring friends to see their suggested ending. Also, tickets were two-for-one with a used ticket stub, to further incentivize repeat viewings.
Alternate endings included Katya and Sidekick kicking out the menfolk and taking over, the Independence Day ending (Hank rallies everyone to fight a sudden alien invasion), the Charlie’s Angels ending (Jessica, Katya and Tellius are the Angels), the henchmen-blow-up-the-base ending, and the popular “return of the surly cocktail waiter” ending. Plus what I stubbornly referred to as the real ending.
Would you stage it again?
Maybe. In the right circumstances. I’d probably want to continue to polish it, clear up some of the rough spots, improve the pacing, but it holds up okay. It’s far from my best comedy, but the jokes work more often than they don’t.
It’s a B- spy parody. Not great, not terrible, which makes it hard to say anything in-depth about. It was a chance for me to tell silly jokes about spy movies for an hour and a half, ending with a decent monologue from Hank and a lot of fun exasperation on the parts of Jake and Jessica. It’s good enough that I’d rework this script instead of starting over from the basic premise, not so good that I’m quick to give it to people as a sample of my work.
Repeated theme alert
- This entire play is a pop culture reference. Bond movies, Shakespeare, the lead character is a Simpsons reference… it would be harder to find a page without pop culture references on it.
- I surely did like the word “creepy.” I used the words “creepy” and “creeps” so much in this script they begin to lose meaning.
- The Outsider: I always found it beneficial to, when dealing with odd premises like this one, have a character who is outside of the situation. An ordinary person who can act as audience surrogate. Steve in Apocalypse Soonish, Greg in Illuminati in Love, and now Jake. Works pretty well.