phone sketch

(the stage is set with two desks or tables, each of which has a phone on it and possibly a Rolodex nearby. Two normal looking people sit at the desks - BARRY, a man, and PAT, either male or female)

PAT: Yeah, decent weekend. Got a lot of cleaning done.
BARRY: I took my kids to see that new Disney movie.
PAT: Which one?
BARRY: The one about the hippopotamus that befriends the young girl who was born without a skeleton and they team up to fight the evil polluters.
PAT: Oh, right, I saw the ads for that. Joel Siegel said that it was fun for the entire family.
BARRY: That it was, that it was.

(TERRI, their supervisor, enters)

TERRI: Hi, guys.
BOTH: Morning, Terri.
TERRI: (cheesy chuckle) Working hard or hardly working?
PAT: Haven't had a call for the last ten minutes. Guess the world must be solving its own problems today.
TERRI: Now, now, don't think like that! Here at DialAdvice, we're the friend who's always there to listen when people have tough times. It can be tough sometimes, and we're here to help!
BARRY: We know, we're the ones doing the helping.
TERRI: Yes, that's just super, and I know that you guys work really hard at it, and you do a fabulous job, don't even think for a second that we're not thrilled to have you two as a part of the DialAdvice team, but...
BARRY: ...but?
TERRI: Well, there have been a couple complaints. (quickly) Just minor things, of course, but there have been a few problems and I'm certainly not saying that either of you are responsible, far from it, but...
BARRY: ...but?
TERRI: Nothing major, of course. You guys do great work and you help a lot of people. Please just remember that we have to listen to the caller in order to help them and get a sense of what kind of help they need. The callers require our total focus and we have to put our advice to them in terms that they understand, that they are comfortable with, that are really useful to their individual situation.
PAT: Say no more, Terri. We understand, and I assure you that we're both doing our best here.
TERRI: Great. (PAT's phone rings) Well, there's a call now! Let's help some people! (leaves)
BARRY: Gotcha. (waves)
PAT: (on phone) Hello caller, welcome to DialAdvice. How can I help you?
CALLER: (nervous) Hi...I'm, um, having trouble at work. I've got so many other things going on in my life and I just can't seem to focus on my job.
PAT: And it's affecting your work?
CALLER: Yes, I think my boss is starting to notice.
PAT: (angry but firm) You have brought dishonor to your company and to your brethren. You have allowed your rivals, those who would destroy your village and attack your family and fellows, you have allowed those vicious dogs to sink their rabid teeth into the throats of all that you hold dear.
CALLER: I, uh, work at a supply store, sir...
PAT: (enraged) HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THE LESSONS OF THE ANCIENT ONES?!? There is no envelope so small that it does not affect the collective enlightenment of the human race through the letters it carries! Without staplers, the teachings of our ancestors would no longer be neatly collated and held together in logical, easy-to-read packages. You DISGUST ME! I will not call you an insect for to do so would be an insult to every species of insect known to the great god Zamfir! (calms some, still tense) I think it is highly obvious what you must do.
CALLER: It is?
PAT: Yes. Having dishonored your clan and yourself, you must commit ritual suicide immediately. That is the only way to make proper reparations.
CALLER: (confused) Yeah, um, thanks. (hangs up. BARRY's phone rings)
BARRY: Hello, caller, and welcome to DialAdvice. How can I help you?
CALLER: (female) Hi, um, I'm having trouble balancing school with everything else in my life.
BARRY: (ultra smooth) It gets so hard sometimes, baby. So hard.
CALLER: Exactly! Classes just seem like so much work and I never have time for myself.
BARRY: Baby, I am going to tell you what you are going to do with your time. Baby, let me freak you.
CALLER: Freak me?
BARRY: Baby, once you set foot in my boudoir, I will prove to you that I am the only man who can satisfy you. I will rest my hand upon your silken skin and run my tender fingers down the length of your beautiful body. I will draw comparisons between your eyes and various stars that can be found in the night sky.
CALLER: You will?
BARRY: Let me show to you the magic that is produced by my love machine. Baby, I guarantee that you will request that I continue to make love to you throughout the night.
CALLER: (sighs happily) I'll be right over. (hangs up)
PAT: (normal, shaking his head) Boy, we get some nuts here, don't we?
BARRY: Sure do, sure do.

(TERRI re-enters, angry. PAT's phone rings and he reaches for it; she stops him)

PAT: Hey, what's the matter?
TERRI: (calling offstage) Can you please re-route Mr. Zaudke's calls to bank #4 for now?
PAT: Why are you re-routing me?
TERRI: Because a man who witnesses say called here a half-hour ago just impaled a bus driver with a sword, that's why.
PAT: And?
TERRI: And that's exactly why what I was talking about earlier! Impaling a chronically late bus driver is not the most effective conflict resolution!
PAT: Um, (condescendingly) I think we're working from different definitions of "resolution" then, Terri.
TERRI: Pat - in my office, now. Barry, you go ahead and keep answering people. It's good to know that at least one person understands the needs of his callers. We haven't had any complaints about you.
BARRY: Well, I do my best.
TERRI: When your break comes, by the way, there are eighteen young women in the lobby who are looking for you. I'm not sure what about, though.
BARRY: Oh, you know, this and that.

(TERRI and PAT leave; BARRY is alone onstage. the phone rings)

BARRY: Hello, caller, and welcome to DialAdvice. How can I help you?
CALLER: (female) Oh, sorry, I must have the wrong number. I'm trying to call Time-Life Books.
BARRY: (smooth) Aww, baby, why you wanna do me like that? Don't hang up that phone. You are precisely where you should be, baby. Let me tell you...(lights off)

phone sketch by marc heiden november 1997