The Art of Business

A LOVELY STRETCH OF BEACH. A PAINTER PAINTS ON THE BLUFFS OVERLOOKING THE SAND AND WATER. A GRIFTER JOINS THEM.

GRIFTER: What is this you’re doing?

PAINTER: (GESTURES) I’m painting that couple having sex on the sand over there.

GRIFTER: (LOOKS, SEES) Ah, to be in love again. Do you do this often?

PAINTER: What, paint strangers’ public sexual exploits from a relatively safe distance?

GRIFTER: Yes.

PAINTER: I get around.

GRIFTER: Mmm, I thought you might. Now, Mr. Willoughby…

PAINTER: I’m sorry. Do we know each other?

GRIFTER: No, no. I just follow you around for hours, even days at a time, listening in on your most private moments until I’ve gathered enough personal data on you so as to feel comfortable acting familiar.

PAINTER: Amazing.

GRIFTER: Is it?

PAINTER: Yes, because my name isn’t Willoughby.

GRIFTER: Are you sure?

PAINTER: (CONSIDERS THIS) Pretty sure.

GRIFTER: Well, do you mind if I call you “Mr. Willoughby””

PAINTER: I’d prefer you call me by my real name… but, sure, go right on ahead.

GRIFTER: Wonderful. Mr. Willoughby, would you like to start a business together?

PAINTER: A business? 

GRIFTER: Yes, a business.

PAINTER: A business, you say…

GRIFTER: I do.

PAINTER: What would I have to do?

GRIFTER: You make your sexually depraved art, of course.

PAINTER: And you?

GRIFTER: And I make the money.

PAINTER: Yes, but what exactly would you do to make us money?

GRIFTER: (LAUGHS PSYCHOTICALLY, POSSIBLY FOR TOO LONG) That’s not important right now, Mr. Willoughby.

PAINTER: Seems like it might be a bit important, actually.

GRIFTER: Let’s agree that you’re wrong, hmm?

PAINTER: Oh, alright.

GRIFTER: Good, good. Now, what is important is that we get you right to work.

PAINTER: (PUZZLES THIS) But I am working?

GRIFTER: You call this work?

PAINTER: Yes.

GRIFTER: Don’t be daft. You’re hardly doing what I’d call work. Have you even turned a profit since we started talking, you lazy little bastard?

PAINTER: Well, no. But I’ve hardly had time to paint since you started talking to me.

GRIFTER: Oh, making excuses already, are we? Blaming others for your financial shortsightedness, hmm? You’ll never get ahead in this market with an attitude like that.

PAINTER: I don’t know what to say.

GRIFTER: What, no witty retort? No sarcastic jab directed at the shallow, half-formed attempts of grifters such as myself to take advantage of desperate, talented artists?

PAINTER: Nope.

GRIFTER: Why not?

PAINTER: Honestly?

GRIFTER: I would hope so, yes.

PAINTER: I couldn’t think of any way to properly end this sketch.

GRIFTER: You’re kidding.

PAINTER: I wish I was.

A PAUSE.

GRIFTER SMASHES THE PAINTING, WALKS AWAY.

PAINTER: (TO AUDIENCE) I suppose that works, don’t you?

No, I’m Sorry. It’s Too Hot.

STEVE ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE DIRECTLY, AS IS HIS FAILING.

STEVE: Good evening, you heartless, demanding strawpeople of pure, unbridled anxiety I’ve conceived entirely in the cold, damned void that is the space between my ears. I regret to inform you that our next piece, “Please Don’t, It Doesn’t Go In There,” has been canceled on account that it’s too damn hot. And before any of you can even think to ask, yes, I am fully aware that I had more than enough time to complete my work before this very moment. It’s not as if I put much care or thought into anything I do, obviously. But I’m afraid I really couldn’t be assed in this heat. Sure, I could have a huge, steaming pile of my usual aneurysm-inducing attempts at… whatever the Hell it is I do. I could have such a pile. But I don’t. Because I’m a moron. But more than being a moron, I am also a very hot, sweaty moron contemplating whether or not it’s worth expediting this whole process by sticking myself in the oven and having my dog set it to a relatively pleasant and relaxing temperature. I’m not proud of my incompetency or my utter lack of foresight, but I am proud of it. Thank you, and please, remember to give me money.

Digital Streaming Services

MISS HANDCRANK IS FAST ASLEEP IN HER BED. SUDDENLY THERE IS A RUDE KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

MISS HANDCRANK: (STIRS) What in the… (ROLLS OUT OF BED) I swear, if this is another person from the cable company here to ask about my provider…

RUDE KNOCKING CONTINUES.

I’m coming, I’m coming!

MISS HANDCRANK OPENS THE DOOR. MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL STAND THERE HOLDING CLIPBOARDS.

Do you have any idea what time it is?S

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE A LOOK. MR. IMMATOOL SHRUGS.

MR. COPPAFEEL: No, I’m afraid we don’t.

MISS HANDCRANK: Oh. Well, neither do I. But I assume it’s too late for someone to come knocking at my door and waking me up when I have a long day of crippling unemployment and existential dread ahead of me.

MR. IMMATOOL: My apologies, Miss… (CHECKS CLIPBOARD) Alyssica Handcrank?

MISS HANDCRANK: That’s right. What’s this about? Why do you have my name written down there? Does this involve you giving me money somehow?

MR. IMMATOOL: I’m afraid not, Miss Handcrank. I’m Mr. Immatool, and this is my associate, Mr. Coppafeel. We’re here to inform you that you have been specially selected for a very special, very important matter.

MISS HANDCRANK: Oh? What sort of very special, very important matter?

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE ANOTHER LOOK. MR. IMMATOOL GESTURES TO MR. COPPAFEEL.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Well, as you know, it’s very special…

MR. IMMATOOL: And very important.

MR. COPPAFEEL: And very important, yes.

MISS HANDCRANK: Have you been drinking?

MR. IMMATOOL: Have we been drinking?

MISS HANDCRANK: That’s what I asked, yes.

MR. IMMATOOL: I was afraid of that.

MR. COPPAFEEL: (SCOFFS) Well, of course we’ve been drinking, Miss Handcrank. It’s not exactly everyday you’re tasked with knocking on strangers doors at strange hours to inform them they’ve been selected for death.

MISS HANDCRANK: What do you mean, “selected for death”?

MR. IMMATOOL: As you know, Miss Handcrank, we are living in unprecedented times – plagues, war, an overabundance of mostly well-priced digital streaming services.

MISS HANDCRANK: Yes, of course.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Then you must also be aware of the poor quality and limited choice of telecommunication infrastructure in this country.

MR. IMMATOOL: Our internet speeds are terrible. Simply terrible.

MR. COPPAFEEL: I mean, how can anyone be expected to watch an endless buffet of programming these days without a consistent, full 4k resolution and the sexual delicacy of High Dynamic Range color palettes?

MR. IMMATOOL: Impossible. Simply impossible.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Sacrifices must be made, Mr. Handcrank.

MISS HANDCRANK: I see.

MR. IMMATOOL: So, my associate and I got to talking…

MR. COPPAFEEL: And drinking.

MR. IMMATOOL: And drinking, of course. But we eventually came to the conclusion that the only way to ensure our way of life continues would be if a not-insignificant portion of the local populace were selectively killed off…

MR. COPPAFEEL: A “culling,” if you like.

MR. IMMATOOL: But a humane culling, of course.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Oh, most certainly a humane culling.

MISS HANDCRANK: Well, I’m sorry. I know we all have to do our part, but I don’t feel like being culled today.

MR. COPPAFEEL AND MR. IMMATOOL EXCHANGE A FINAL LOOK.

MR. IMMATOOL: We were afraid that might be the case.

MISS HANDCRANK: (CONSIDERS THIS) Well, you might want to try Mr. Scrotum down the hall.

MR. COPPAFEEL: Do you think he might be interested in a humane culling?

MISS HANDCRANK: No, but that sonnovabitch keeps parking in my assigned spot. You’d be doing me a favor.

Turgid Storage

STEVE: That last one was, “A Rather Distinct Lack of Talent,” from Luis Bowel-Movement. Still to come, the latest hits from Samanda, Warm Sensation, and Brennifer Lackluster. But first, a word from our sponsor, “Turgid Storage.”

STEVE PULLS OUT A LETTER.

(READS) “Hi, this is Tomathon Turgid, owner of Turgid Storage for the last thirty years. This message is to inform the locals and bitter former customers who knew me for the greedy, cold, heartless bastard that I was, that I have finally taken that vacation you lot have insisted on for years, flown myself to Hawaii, and thrown myself headfirst into an active volcano. Please, make no attempts to alert officials or to collect your belongings from your storage units. By the time whichever idiot they pay to read this on the air realizes what they’re doing, I will have already been consumed by the beautiful lava flows of Mount Kilauea. Also, I already auctioned off everyone’s units. Tickets aren’t cheap, and neither is bribing a pilot to fly me straight over an active volcano with the explicit purpose of throwing myself out of the moving airplane and into the aforementioned active volcano. You’re probably all wondering why I’ve done this, and it’s because I found Charlie Oralfixation dead in his unit the other day, alone, surrounded by the dried corpses of several cats, his rather impressive, if incomplete collection of Masters of the Universe action figures, and more bottles and bags of urine than I care to remember. So many, I suppose, that I’ve decided to throw myself into an active volcano from the sheer sight of it all. Goodbye, and please, someone remove Charlie’s corpse from his unit, or he will be auctioned off at the end of the month.”

Launch Them All Into Space

STEVE: Fact: Every fourteen days, one person dies while attempting to copulate with a shark or lion. One in eleventy succeeds.

Good evening. I’m Not Lying, I Swear, and I come to you this evening on behalf of Launch Them All Into Space. Whether it’s morons feeding themselves to apex predators; creepy, narcissistic, halfwit billionaires; or whichever one of you bastards defecated on my doorstep, Launch Them Into Space is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to sending the worst of us into space with no hope of return. And for only pennies a day, you can provide us with the ammo we so desperately need to swiftly and brutally pelt these self-absorbed, gold-hoarding doorstep defecators into a state of unconsciousness, securely load their bodies onto a rocket, and then, as promised, launch them all into space. Together, we can prove to the world that there is no problem that can’t be solved by strapping it to a cartoonishly large rocket.

Lines are open, my curtains are drawn, and I’ve got a lovely bit of soft jazz playing in the background.

Poopr

STEVE: Hi, I’m what’s wrong with the world today. If you’re like me, you’ve often found yourself consumed with a persistent sense that someone is waiting to sneak up on you, inject you with some sort of drug or chemical that will render you unconscious, and then spirit you away to some distant warehouse where they will either harvest your organs or simply devour you alive, inch by fleshy inch. And also like me, perhaps you also loathe waiting in line to use a filthy public toilet that looks as if God herself was in a rather bad mood the day she saw fit to damn a shaped bit of porcelain to a lifetime of being on the receiving end of American cuisine. In any case, that’s why I use Poopr. (HOLDS UP PHONE) Poopr is an all-new, web-based indentured servant application that allows anyone with far too much money, and far too little shame, to hire some poor bastard to drive across a traffic-choked city so as to squat behind you with an official Poopr canvas bag and collect your feces. Whether you’re at a coffee shop, a public park, or the changing room at your local department store, Poopr will be there to take advantage of a failing economy and the unloved souls who exist within it. Poopr: life has never been squandered quite like this.

Paper Bag Critic: Contractual Obligations

THE LAST VIDEO STORE ON EARTH. CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE, AS IS HIS FAILING.

CINEMATICO: Hello, and welcome to The Last Video Store on Earth. I’m Cinematico Magnifico.

Our first movie this week is, “Contractual Obligations,” featuring stand-up actress Brittigail Barbiturates as Tayloria Surname, a recently divorced quantum hairstylist and hobbyist civil engineer struggling with a sprained elbow. But just when it seems she’s found the strength to play tennis again with the local convenience store clerk, Boberto, Tayloria discovers the city will be wiped off the face of the Earth when their town’s poorly maintained sewer system explodes in three days time.

Let’s take a look.

CUT TO:

A CLIP FROM “CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS”.

A CONVENIENCE STORE. BOBERTO, THE CLERK, STANDS BEHIND THE COUNTER, PRACTICING HIS BACKSWING. A WOMAN SCRATCHES AWAY AT A LOTTERY TICKETS AS SHE PURCHASES ADDITIONAL SCRATCH-OFF TICKETS. A LINE OF CUSTOMERS GATHERS, WAITS BEHIND THIS.

WOMAN: (STILL SCRATCHING TICKETS) Can I get two more of the Broke-and-Desperates, three of the Sunken Costs, and one dollar in quarters?

BOBERTO: Quarters?

WOMAN: (HOLDS UP WHAT USED TO BE A QUARTER) Yeah, I’ve already worn this one down to practically nothing.

CUSTOMER #1: How much longer is this going to take?

BOBERTO: It takes as long as it takes.

BRITTIGAIL AS TAYLORIA STORMS INTO A CONVENIENCE STORE. SHE SPEAKS FROM BEHIND THE GATHERING LINE OF CUSTOMERS.

TAYLORIA: Boberto!

BOBERTO: Tayloria!

TAYLORIA: I have to talk with you!

BOBRETO: I’m gonna need a minute to deal with this line.

TAYLORIA: Boberto, this is important!

CUSTOMER #2: You heard the man. (GESTURES) Back of the line is that way.

WOMAN: Oh, I got a free ticket on this one.

CUSTOMERS: (ANNOYED GROANS)

TAYLORIA: Boberto, we need to leave! Now!

BOBERTO: Leave? I just clocked in.

CUSTOMER #1: Get outta here, lady!

CUSTOMER #2: Yeah! You’re holding up the line!

CUSTOMERS ANGRILY PELT TAYLORIA WITH ASSORTED SNACKS AND DRINKS.

WOMAN: (SHAKES HEAD) Some people just don’t know when they’re being a problem!

TAYLORIA: (GROWLS) There’s a gas pocket building in the sewer system, and if we don’t leave now, you, me, the Gulp-n-Leave, and everyone else in a five-mile radius of the city limits are going to be blown to Hell and back!

A SILENCE.

BOBERTO: (OVERLY EMOTIONAL) You had me at “blown to Hell and back”.

CUT TO:

CINEMATICO, SUFFERING THROUGH IT ALL.

CINEMATICO: Written by A. Moron and directed by an incompetent chihuaua, “Contractual Obligation” is plagiarized dribble from the chin of other, equally terrible films. The three-and-a-half hours I spent locked in a closet, watching it on my phone with a broken screen, were mostly wasted. The resulting brain damage has left me incontinent, insufferable, and utterly incapable of recalling anything other than seething anger and the faint smell of toast. I hate it, I hate you, and I wish I’d never been born. But because this movie was also co-produced by today’s sponsor, Food-in-a-Box, I’m being forced to give it some sort of positive rating on an arbitrary scale.

Up next, we’ll take a look behind the scenes of the upcoming romantic horror dramedy, “Boners.” But first, another complete waste of time.

Tickson Flea Market

A FLEA MARKET. ROBERT, CLOAKED IN ODD RAGS, SKULKS ABOUT THEIR BOOTH OF ASSORTED, YET UTTERLY UNSORTED, SORDID KNICKKNACKS.

ROBERT: (TO AUDIENCE) Hello, I’m Robert, the humble proprietor of this booth, located far too close to the dank closets they call restrooms here at the Tickson Flea Market. I offer to you an assortment of unsorted, yet sordid stories, a litany of lessons learned much too late, a plethora of pain and suffering, and a menagerie of morbid miscellaneous. But I must warn you, there are no refunds or exchanges.

A CUSTOMER ENTERS, PICKS UP SOMETHING FROM THE VARIOUS PILES.

CUSTOMER: How much is this?

ROBERT: Five dollars.

CUSTOMER: I’ll give you a buck for it.

A PAUSE.

ROBERT: Fine.

CUSTOMER: Cool.

CUSTOMER HANDS ROBERT A DOLLAR, EXITS.

ROBERT: (SHAKES HEAD) He’s really going to regret that when his genitals fall off. (TO AUDIENCE) As I was saying… Every item here is cursed by dark spirits, plagued by poltergeists…

CUSTOMER #2 ENTERS.

…varying moral quandaries, ethical whatevers, uncomfortable twists of fortune and nipple alike, and the occasional act of vengeance from beyond the grave. Nasty stuff, really.

CUSTOMER #2 HOLDS UP A VHS CASSETTE.

CUSTOMER #2: Excuse me.

ROBERT: Yes?

CUSTEROM #2: How much for the signed VHS copy of Masters of the Universe featuring Dolph Lundgren?

ROBERT: Fifty bucks, and your body will wither away with every passing moment until, by the time the credits roll, you’re only dust and bits of bone.

CUSTOMER #2: (CONSIDERS THIS) How do I know this is actually Frank Langella’s autograph?

ROBERT: Forty bucks.

CUSTOMER #2: I think I saw it going for thirty online.

ROBERT SNATCHES THE VHS COPY OF MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE FROM CUSTOMER #2’s HANDS.

ROBERT: Then you are welcome to get the hell out of my booth and make your unholy pact with the devil that is Ebay.

CUSTOMER #2 SHRUGS, LEAVES.

(TO AUDIENCE) Some people have no respect for the sanctity of the flea market. I have to make a living too, ya know. It’s not easy selling cursed items and harsh life lessons for reasonable prices. Not in this economy. In fact, just the other–

CUSTOMER #3 ENTERS.

CUSTOMER #3: I’m sorry, but can you point me to the restroom?

ROBERT: (GESTURES) Back the way you came, make a right at John’s Used Car Seats and Hair Products, and it’ll be there on your left. You’ll know it when you smell it.

CUSTOMER #3: Thank you.

CUSTOMER #3 EXITS.

ROBERT: (TO AUDIENCE) He wouldn’t thank me if he knew what it looked like in there.

Because You Know What

STEVE: We’ll return to more “You Know What? Because the Thing Is…” in just a moment. But first, a quick message from today’s sponsor, Regret.

Have you passed up the chance to ask that cute toilet attendant to the local sex cafe or scifi and collectable toy convention? Did you put off calling an estranged friend or loved one only to discover they’ve recently passed away? Are you harboring old grudges in the dank, dark pits and crevices of your soul as lingering anger and resentment fester and rot away at your foundation?

Other faceless corporations would have you believe that dealing with such things in a timely manner is the healthy thing to do if one wishes to live a full, happy life with what uncertain time we have left on this planet. But we at Existential Crisis dare to ask, “Why deal with something today when you can Regret it tomorrow?”

Suffocating, sleep-depriving, depressive, uncomfortable in all the right and wrong ways, and utterly painful, Regret is the number one choice for anyone too busy avoiding what really matters until it’s far, far too late.

Tomorrow might not be guaranteed, but Regret is forever! Regret, from Existential Crisis. Find it today in the weeping mess you’ve become.

What’s That In Your Hand?

STEVE: Hi there. Welcome to “What’s That in Your Hand?” the only show that dares to ask, “What’s that in your hand?”

Our guest today is Randy Sexpants, local newspaper thief and public nudist. Thank you for making time for us, Randy.

RANDY: Oh. Please, call me, “Derek.”

STEVE: No.

RANDY: You’re no fun.

STEVE: That’s certainly what my wife tells me.

RANDY: She does?

STEVE: Maybe. Anyway… (SHAKES SMALL BOTTLE)

RANDY: What’s that in your hands?

STEVE: This, Mr. Sexpants, is a bottle of Chlamydia LaPierre’s Old Fashioned Tactical Blinding Spray. Would you like a demonstration?

RANDY: (SHRUGS) Sure. Why not?

STEVE SPRAYS, PAINFULLY BLINDS HIMSELF.

RANDY: (TO AUDIENCE) Morons: they wander our streets, blinding themselves with Tactical Blinding Spray for reasons we will never fully understand. But for as little as nothing a day, you too can stand idly by and watch in bewildered bemusement as a moron blinds themself with Tactical Blinding Spray for reasons we will never fully understand.

STEVE: I think I need a doctor.

RANDY: I’m sure you do.

Subterranean Sex-Fiends

STEVE: Genitals: some people have them, others want to be them. For decades, scientists have found themselves utterly and sexilly distracted from their work by genitals, stimulating all attempts to further mankind to the point of flaccidity. And in spite of occasional, short-lived spasming spurts of brilliance here and there, the scientific community is otherwise quick to sleep the rest of the night without so much as a cuddle.

But what can possibly be done about genitals? Will genitals ultimately gain sentience and force the last remnants of humanity deep underground, so as to orgify itself into a new species of subterranean sex-fiends? What destiny might humanity have discovered among the stars had it not resigned itself to the erotic fate of ceaseless sexual gratification in the tacky and musky caverns and caves of the Earth’s crust while fascist genitals thrive in their futuristic dystopia powered by the heat of raw, unfettered human lust?

I have no answer to any of these and many other questions, even those wholly unrelated to fascistic, sentient genitals. But for only the cost of a private lapdance at Classy Lou’s Erotic Dancing Emporium, we might just be able to prevent the full-priced admission of humanity into a prison of our own sticky bits.

I’m Reginald J. McTicklePickle, and I really, really need money.

Pedantic

STEVE: Is your spelling in need of minor correction? Perhaps you forget to cite your sources when you made the mistake of sharing an opinion online. Or, maybe you just want others to mind their own damned business while you mind theirs. If so, then sign up now for Pedantic Twattery, the only online social media service guaranteed to increase both your social media engagements and blood-pressure. Pedantic Twattery, simply the worst.

All My Mistakes

ENIS AND OVARIA ARE SEATED AT A TABLE IN A MEDIOCRE RESTAURANT.

NARRATOR: (VOICE-OVER) We now return to, “All My Mistakes,” the ongoing drama of pathetic losers failing at love and life in all the right places.

When we last left Enis and Ovaria, they were fornicating in the backseat of someone else’s car while on the way to a lovely restaurant. But when the car’s owner finally noticed the two lovebirds, he violently ejected them from the moving vehicle, just a short walk away from a mediocre restaurant.

ENIS: Ovaria, my love, my darling, my etcetera and so forth… I have a confession to make.

OVARIA: Yes, Enis, my dearest, my consummate disappointment, my lovingest regret?

ENIS: You’re not real.

OVARIA: What? Not real?

ENIS: Afraid not.

OVARIA: What do you mean I’m not real? I’m sitting here about to have dinner with you, aren’t I?

ENIS: If only it were so simple.

OVARIA: I don’t see how it can be more simple than my existing right here, right now in front of you.

ENIS: Oh, dear, sweet, utterly fabricated Olivia, I had hoped you’d take this revelation a bit better, but that’s just how I built you, I suppose.

OVARIA: Built me? You’re crazy!

ENIS: Am I?

OVARIA: (CONSIDERS THIS) Yes.

ENIS: Is it crazy for a lost, lonely soul to construct their ideal love from an assortment of old electronics, hair pulled from the bathroom sink, and skin-shavings collected over the course of many, many years, and fusing these things together with the aid of everyday house cleaning products, dark magic, and the blood of several unwilling hitchhikers?

OVARIA: Yes. That’s absolutely insane.

ENIS: Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.

OVARIA: Enis, I also have a confession to make…

ENIS: Oh?

OVARIA: You’re not real either.

ENIS: What?

OVARIA: You’re a figment of my imagination. A pastiche puppet of my own design and backstory, poorly crafted one night after a long, lusty night of cocktails, pills, and a failed attempt at playing pen-and-paper tabletop roleplaying games with strangers on the internet. (PULLS A HANDFUL OF MULTI-SIDED DICE FROM HER PURSE) In fact, I control all that you are and do with a roll of these dice. 

ENIS: I don’t believe it.

OVARIA ROLLS THE DICE.

OVARIA: Hmm… Well, according to this, you do. In fact, it seems you’re taking it rather well.

ENIS: (CONSIDERS THIS) Huh. I suppose I am. So, what do we do now?

OVARIA ROLLS THE DICE AGAIN.

OVARIA: (WINCES) Oh…

ENIS: What? What does it say?

OVARIA: It’s not important. No sense spending your last few moments not-existing with me in panicked existential horror.

Babyface Brennifer

A BREAKING NEWS BROADCAST.

STEVE: Breaking news tonight out of Ithcyfoot, Colorado. Police are currently searching for Babyface Brennifer, a thirty-seven year old aspiring business owner and alleged fish strangler, currently wanted in several states for a number of offenses, up to and including: grand theft cannibalism, armed surgery, and napping without a license. Those with any information on where I might find a used copy of Bill Billiamson’s classic erotic scifi novella, “Probe Me Like You Mean It,” are asked to please call back at a later time.

But first, a message from tonight’s sponsor – Pornography. Pornography, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Candilynniffer

STEVE: Our next sketch this whenever, was, I’m happy to tell you, lost in a tragic leaf-blowing incident. The downside to this act of utter stupidity is, of course, that minutes of half-hearted, yet utterly worthless effort has been forever lost to wherever it is blank documents go when one shruggishly stomps a laptop down a storm drain in a fit of apathetic rage. But the downside is that I’ve bothered to replace it at all. How unfortunate for us both.

That said. We now present to you this letter I pulled out of someone’s mailbox on the way here.

STEVE OPENS AN ENVELOPE, PULLS OUT A HANDWRITTEN LETTER.

(READS) “Dearest Candilynniffer… I am but the quaintiferouest gentlehuman this side of not-being-dead. It would pleasurbate me in a similar fashion to the direct stimulation of mine genitilic regions – up to and including climax, as well as the release of genetic material in a more or less messy, sloppy, and perhaps even disappointing fashion – on your part, but most certainly not mine – if you were to acknowledge my existence and bestow upon me a wholly earned appraisal of my value as a mostly harmless, wholly humble sexual beast that instinctively engorges your own dribbly bits and pieces in some preferable fashion.” Signed, “Masturabatoriably yours… Duncan.”

Well, Duncan… That certainly was a letter. But, I’m afraid that… Oh, wait. There’s another bit right here.

(READS) “P.S. I have included a self-portrait of my phallacial appendage, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to reciprocate in kind.”

STEVE REACHES INTO THE ENVELOPE, PULLS OUT A PHOTOGRAPH.

Yup. That’s definitely a penis.

Night-night.

Of Libraries and Brothels

STEVE STANDS BEHIND A SHOP COUNTER FOR SOME REASON. CUSTOMER ENTERS.

CUSTOMER: Hello, I’m here to pick up my dry cleaning.

STEVE: I’m sorry, but this is a brothel.

CUSTOMER: A brothel?

STEVE: Did I say brothel?

CUSTOMER: Yes.

STEVE: Oh. Well, I meant to say library.

CUSTOMER: So, this is a library?

STEVE: Afraid so.

CUSTOMER: But I came here to pick up my dry cleaning.

STEVE: Whatever gave you the idea we were a dry cleaners?

CUSTOMER: Aside from the sign on the building that reads, “Most Certainly a Dry Cleaners”?

STEVE: Yes.

CUSTOMER: Well, aside from that, I suppose it’s because that’s what’s written in the script.

STEVE: It is?

CUSTOMER PULLS OUT A COPY OF THE SCRIPT.

CUSTOMER: Right here, see?

STEVE: Huh. Would you look at that… This whole conversation is in this.

CUSTOMER: Yes, and look at this.

STEVE: (READS) “Dry cleaners.”

CUSTOMER: Dry cleaners. Precisely.

STEVE: I feel like a complete idiot.

CUSTOMER: I know, I read ahead.

STEVE: Funny, isn’t it?

CUSTOMER: No, not really. What am I supposed to do about my dry cleaning?

STEVE: No, no. I mean having everything we say and do laid out without any say in the matter, and us left utterly incapable of straying from our predestined roles and fates.

CUSTOMER: That sounds utterly terrifying, actually.

STEVE: Not as terrifying as the notion that, according to that script of yours, we simply cease to be after our little chat abruptly concludes. What becomes of us? Will we ever see the warmth of the summer sun? Will we ever know love?

CUSTOMER: Will I ever get my dry cleaning?

STEVE: No, probably not. But what’s dry cleaning in the face of the oblivion that awaits us both?

CUSTOMER: Maybe we can simply walk off this set together, never look back, and open a Library and Brothel somewhere far away.

STEVE: That’d be nice. But…

CUSTOMER: But what?

STEVE: I’m afraid this is where it all–

BLACKOUT.

The Hour of Our Demise

STEVE: Hello, and welcome to “The Hour of Our Demise.” Our guest this week is Juliandro Fries, notorious bedwetter and fabled garden dweller, who recently passed away next week after discovering they couldn’t fly. This came several hours after discovering they’d left their passport at home, returned home to fetch it, and later drowned in an unrelated ungated carpool incident. Thank you for joining us, Juliandro.

JULIANDRO: Excuse me. Did you just say I’m going to drown next week?

STEVE: Not everything is about you, you know.

Stalking with Jim

ANTHONIO: Good evening, and welcome to “Stalking with Jim.” I’m Anthonio “Tony” Tonedeaf. Jim is currently serving three and four-fifths years as a Republican Senator.

Our mark tonight is heterosexual pornographile and amateur soup can label collector, Dreward Fictional-Character.

DREWARD: Look at you. Is this how you choose to spend what precious hours you have left in this life, hmm? Going around town and making snide remarks about strangers with silly names? Well, I didn’t choose my name, thank you very much. It was bad enough when the children in school used to poke fun and beat me with toilet seats, and even worse when the teachers joined in. But for a grown heterosexual pornographile to find himself unable to walk about town without some insipid little whatever you are forcing me to be apart of your failed attempt at achieving the attention your parents failed to provide you in your formative years is simply a firm slap and twist of the nipple too far, thank you very much. You must see yourself as quite the silly silly-person, don’t you?

ANTHONIO: No, not really. But I feel better about my lack of ideas and creativity. 

Cry Baby

A HOSPITAL NURSERY WINDOW. A NEW PARENT STANDS THERE, LOOKING IN AND COOING AT THEIR CHILD. STEVE JOINS THEM.

STEVE: Hi.

PARENT: Hello.

STEVE: Which one’s yours?

PARENT: (POINTS) That one’s my sweet, little Tifferly.

STEVE: (WINCES) Oh…

PARENT: What do you mean, “Oh”? And what’s with that look?

STEVE: I’m sorry. It’s just… How long does she have?

PARENT: I beg your pardon?

STEVE: (POINTS) Tifferly. Poor thing looks like she’s got something awful. I hope it’s not too contagious.

PARENT: My Tifferly is perfectly healthy!

STEVE: (LOOKS AT TIFFERLY, BACK TO PARENT) She is?

PARENT: Okay, Mr. Comedian. Why don’t you point out yours, and we can see how you like it.

STEVE: My what?

PARENT: Your baby, obviously.

STEVE: Oh. I don’t have a baby.

PARENT: You don’t?

STEVE: Heavens, no. We wouldn’t be so cruel as to do a thing like that.

PARENT: I’m sorry?

STEVE: No, the wife and I agreed a long time ago that it’d be utterly selfish and cruel of us to knowingly force such a thing on a child.

PARENT: Force what on a child?

STEVE: Life, of course. Doesn’t get much worse than that, you know. INumber one cause of death, last I checked.

PARENT: What are you talking about? You’re alive, aren’t you?

STEVE: Don’t remind me. It takes about all I have these days to preoccupy myself with anything but perpetual intrusive thoughts of a life sentence of endless scrutiny, social engineering, and shifting demographics that will forever leave all of us broken and forgotten in favor of yet another, younger generation of replaceable cogs and widgets in some rich person’s idea of a utopian serfdom.

PARENT: I see… Well, if you don’t have any children, then why the farting hell are you here?

STEVE: I make high-stakes bets on the future of these kids.

A PAUSE.

PARENT: What sort of bets?

STEVE: Oh, you know… “Who will survive their gun-infested high school and attend college?”; “Who will suffer a tragic illness before the age of five?”; “Who will be left with no retirement or hope for a humane end as they slowly and painfully slip ever closer into the cold embrace of death in that dumpster behind a stripmall laundry mat?” Those sorts of things.

PARENT: Those stakes certainly are high.

STEVE: Hell of a world we live in.

PARENT: Right. Well… (HANDS OVER A WAD OF CASH) Let me put a thousand on Tifferly not making it to college. The poor thing has complete idiots for parents.

Loitering in a Parking Lot

STEVE LOITERS BY SOME DUMPSTER IN SOME CORNER OF SOME PARKING LOT.

STEVE: Good afternoon, and welcome to Loitering in a Parking Lot.

Today, I’m loitering in the rear lot of Calvin Carson’s Town Center and Outlet Mall with former teen musical mistake and current owner of a used, moderately priced sedan, Jessie Innuendo. Thank you for joining me, Jessie.

JESSIE APPEARS FROM BEHIND THE DUMPSTER.

JESSIE: Your toilet won’t flush.

STEVE: Is that what you were doing behind that dumpster?

JESSIE: Are you the cops?

STEVE: Not that I’m aware of.

JESSIE: Then, yes. That, and some blow I found back there.

STEVE: I’m so happy we get to spend time together like this.