Knock ’em Dead
A down on his luck party clown gets the gig of a lifetime when a lonely housewife offers a big payday to whoever can keep a group of children entertained for just one hour.
Another idea I’ve dusted off from 2013. I don’t think this one needed quite as much work as others and was simply not clicking with me from a structure perspective. The act breaks were a bit unclear to me at the time, but I think I’ve got it nailed. It’s short and simple, but, I hope, darkly comedic.
Be sure to join me each night over on Twitch to chat along as I type like a monkey at a keyboard.
EXT. APARTMENT – DAY – ESTABLISHING
A rundown, low-income apartment complex in a bad part of town.
EXT. APARTMENT/COURTYARD – DAY
Fourteen or fifteen screaming children between the ages of seven and ten crowd around a surly party clown, HECKLES.
Tables are set with party favors, ice cream and birthday cake, and the courtyard is littered in a layer of streamers and disposable dinner plates. A couple of weary parents sink into a bottle of beer as Heckles is eaten alive.
He delivers another tired gag and particularly AWFUL CHILD crudely remarks.
Things very quickly become heated and uncomfortable.
The silence is broken by the intervention of something else that grabs their attention.
INT. APARTMENT – DAY
Heckles enters a small, cluttered apartment.
The MOTHER gives him an excuse as to why she can’t pay him. He pushes the issue and grows angry, refusing to listen to her sob story.
INT. APARTMENT – LATER
The BIRTHDAY BOY wanders into the apartment, looking for his mother. He knocks on the bathroom door, pressing his ear against it and hearing muffled voices and a cacophony of clattering on tile, a horn, a whistle, and buzzer. And then they suddenly stop.
The door opens and the Birthday Boy stands there, looking on at Heckles walks out of the bathroom. Heckles tussles the kid’s hair.
Happy Birthday, Kid.
The Mother shyly slips past, hair a mess, wiping grease paint from her mouth with the back of her hand.
EXT. APARTMENT – DAY
He walks back to his car, a Honda POS, and smokes a joint. As he attempts to relax, some local children harass him further.
Defeated, he drives off.
EXT. STREET – DAY
A crowded stretch of highway cutting through a dusty corner of Orange County. Black smog pours out the tailpipe of a rambling Honda POS. Heckles is behind the wheel, still in full clown regalia, singing along to the latest Katy Perry tune.
A loud, blaring WHOOP and the red and blue flash of police sodium lights.
The POS pulls over to the side of the road. The black and white cruiser comes a stop behind it. A middle aged officer steps out from behind the wheel of the cruiser and approaches the window. He looks down and sees...
Heckles, surly, sour-faced.
What’s that smell?
Your wife’s pu--
INT. HECKLE’S APARTMENT – DAY
Heckles returns home, furious about his new, completely bullshit ticket. And that’s when he learns from his ROOMMATE that his (Heckle’s) latest girlfriend ran off and stole all of his belongings.
Defeated, Heckles leaves for his favorite bar still dressed up in his clown attire.
EXT. STRIPMALL – DAY
The POS pulls into a small stripmall off a main stretch of highway, home to
A pair of rowdy LOSERS loiter outside, puffing away on cloves and cheap cigars, cheerfully calling out to the clown stepping off the car.
Heckles does not respond. He’s too busy cursing up a storm, carrying on to himself and those who will listen about how everybody’s a fucking critic and can’t take a goddamn joke. He’s got a 0 ticket.
INT. THE JUKEBOX – DAY
The Jukebox is a dark rockabilly throwback with crazy shit all over the walls. The clientele is an eclectic band of coeds, middle-aged boozers, and chatty Vietnam vets enjoying the atmosphere, and with at least some hope of testing out whether or not their dicks still have a little life left in them.
Heckles makes a beeline for the bar, ignoring the stares and whispers invariably directed toward him. When you dress like a fucking clown, you’re bound to get a few raised eyebrows.
The bartender, CHERYL, is a sexy young thing. Hair done up like Bettie Paige. Lips blood red. Tits pouring out from a Guns ‘n Roses shirt she’s carved up into a flattering makeshift halter top.
She asks what Heckles needs and he says “work.”
She pours him a beer and asks him about his day. He rambles on about shithead children and their fuckable mothers. And the ticket. And being broke.
He turns the conversation to her and she happily tells him about the slow afternoon and a rowdy group in the corner.
As if on que, a ROWDY SHIT HEAD and his BIG TITTIED GIRL storm up to the bar, cutting off the conversation and demanding another pitcher.
Shit Head takes a look at Heckles.
SHIT HEADWhat are you supposed to be?
HECKLESA human being.
Shit Head laughs and asks him to tell him another. Heckles is off the clock.
Shit Head offers Heckles a buck.
Come on, make my girl laugh.
Heckles looks to Cheryl, Cheryl shakes her head, “No, don’t you fucking do it.”
He does it anyway, standing up, putting on his gimmick voice, honking his nose and tooting his horn. And he leans over, whispers in Big Tittied Girl’s ear.
She giggles wildly.
Heckles cops a feel.
She gives him a peck.
Shit Head gets pissed, grabs Heckles by the collar and roughs him up, demanding to know what the fuck he just said. Heckles only asks for the dollar.
Shit Head pushes the issue while Big Tittied Girl insists that he was just being funny, so let it go.
This only pisses off Shit Head more.
Heckles tells Big Tittied Girl that he told her so, making a blatant reference to the joke he made in her ear.
Shit Head punches the clown, sending Heckles rocking and reeling and falling into a table where a couple were quietly watching on.
Cheryl ends it, sending the bouncers after shit head. Shit Head is quickly thrown out and Big Tittied Girl is quick to follow.
Heckles gathers himself and returns to the bar.
Some people have no sense of humor.
Was that necessary?
Oh, fuck him. Everybody’s so goddamn sensitive these days.
Why do you do this?
Obviously, I hate myself.
Cheryl offers a bit of advice and mentions an ad she saw in the classifieds, how some woman was willing to pay 00 to anyone who can keep some kids entertained for an hour. She shows him the paper and he asks to use the phone. She tells him its in the back like usual.
INT. THE JUKEBOX/OFFICE – DAY
In a back corner, Heckles uses the bar’s phone to make the call, confirms the job is legitimate--one hour, 00 cash--and then agrees to take the gig.
He hangs up and rushes out.
INT. THE JUKEBOX – DAY
He tells Cheryl he got the job and will be back tomorrow with a big thank you.
EXT. STRIPMALL – DAY
Heckles steps outside to find the pair of smokers are gathered around his POS. Its windows are smashed in.
Aw, fuck me.
EXT. SUBURB – DAY – ESTABLISHING
A beautiful, upscale suburb.
EXT. BEAUTIFUL HOUSE – DAY
The POS, windows mended with duct tape and Hefty bags, pulls up to a big, beautiful home. Heckles steps out and nervously approaches the door.
A sexy little number looking like an x-rated MRS. BRADY answers the door. She is very happy to see him and welcomes him in.
INT. BEAUTIFUL HOUSE – DAY
Mrs. Brady guides Heckles through an immaculate and elegantly furnished home as she details the job at hand, flirting with Heckles and mentioning how her husband is always away on business.
Heckles peers through the curtain and sees a large gathering of children, every one well behaved and patiently waiting for him. A big stage has been set up in the center of a large, lush yard.
He psyches himself up and Mrs. Brady wishes him luck.
EXT. BEAUTIFUL HOUSE/PATIO – DAY
Heckles steps out onto the stage and is given a polite, if rather dead silence. Their eyes staring at him, silently judging him.
He attempts to break the ice, but his gags are met with silence.
After some more awkward silence, he digs into his routine and is still met with mostly silence. A few scattered chuckles drive him onward.
He grows clumsy in his desperation and manages to hurt himself fairly bad.
This elicits his first big pop of the night, so he runs with it--dishing out slapstick and self-harm for the sake of their laughter and applause.
INT. BEAUTIFUL HOUSE/KITCHEN – DAY
With his performance a success, he finds himself rewarded handsomely by the Mother.
But the cheers and cries for an encore pull Heckles away from his money and the apparently grateful and very lonely single Mother...
With his performance a success, he returns to the house to collect his substantial fee and is well-compensated by Mrs. Brady.
As she congratulates him on a job very well done, he is drawn by the children’s demands of an encore.
Mrs. Brady warns him to get going and enjoy his earnings, but he can’t resist, and promises that this bit will definitely be on the house.
She sighs and watches him trot back out to his adoring audience.
EXT. BEAUTIFUL HOUSE/PATIO – DAY
Mrs. Brady sadly watches on as Heckles--hurt, bleeding, and tired--steps back onto the stage, goes silent, and stops dead in his tracts.
He hears them, the children growling and snarling. Furry little nightmares. And his last thought as the first set of teeth bites into his ankles and drags him down is, Of course.
FADE TO BLACK: