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Sketch Time Machine: Deal of the Century

Because hey, why not, I thought I’d start posting some of my old/never performed/never to be performed again sketches online, with commentary about them. And I will call it, “Sketch Time Machine!” And it will be good. Hopefully.

Year Written: 2002

To kick things off, I thought I’d post the first sketch I wrote for Elephant Larry, way back in 2002. It’s a pretty straightforward ramp sketch, the sort I would never, ever write anymore. There’s no twist to it, really. A ramp plays the game, heightens to infinity, and gets out. And that’s it.

There’s also a short managerial rest-stop in the middle… So kind of two beats, rather than three, which is a weird structure to use. Basically, I was young, dumb, and full of jokes.

Couple of facts about this one:

  • It’s also the first sketch (I think) that was performed by Elephant Larry, though not the first sketch we all performed together.
  • We used to perform outside in parks, like Union Square, and Washington Square. This was kind of a terrible idea, and kind of great. I don’t think we drummed up that much publicity for our actual shows – but I do think it helped us suss out what material just didn’t work (read: this sketch), and also, how to deal with crowds that just won’t listen.
  • Spoiler: It’s kind of ridiculous that I thought “space shuttle” was a heighten over “eternal life.” Says a lot, I think, about where I was in life then. Or not.
  • Spoiler: I still kind of like Ending #3.

Enough preface, here’s the sketch:

DEAL OF THE CENTURY

A great bargain by Alexander Zalben

CHARACTERS: Barry, Buyer, Jim

A car dealership. BUYER is looking around at cars. BARRY scopes him out, then approaches.

                                                            BARRY

Hi there, sir, Can I interest you in a new car?

                                                            BUYER

That’s why I’m here.

                                                            BARRY

What were you looking for today?

                                                            BUYER

Well, my wife just had quintuplets, so I’m going to need some sort of a minivan.

                                                            BARRY

Take a look at this beauty over here.

                                                            BUYER

That looks great. It’s perfect.

                                                            BARRY

Sure, sure, I understand. But what if I told you that this week only, you can get this model for only $4,000?

                                                            BUYER

That’s a great deal. Perfect.

                                                            BARRY

Hold on, there. Would it change your mind if I threw in leather seats at no extra charge?

                                                            BUYER

No, I don’t think so… If anything, it would make me want the car more than at the level I already want it at, which is a high level of wanting.

                                                            BARRY

All right, all right. I hear what you’re saying. I’m slitting my own throat here. I’ll throw in the rest of the options: choice of color, a/c, sunroof, dvd player, AND, I’ll cut $4,000 off the price.

                                                            BUYER

Wait, I thought the car was discounted to $4,000 to begin with.

                                                            BARRY

Slitting my own throat.

                                                            BUYER

That’s… well, okay. I’ll take it. Where do I sign?

                        (Jim, the manager, enters.)

                                                            BARRY

Hey there, Jim, how’s it going?

                                                            JIM

Okay, Barry. Listen, I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion with Mr…

                                                            BUYER

Mr. Stones.

                                                            JIM

Mr. Stones. I’m the manager here, so I was a little upset and surprised to hear that Barry was just going to give you this car.

                                                            BUYER

Me too. Not upset, surprised.

                                                            JIM

– Without telling you about our new road-laying option.

                                                            BARRY

Oh, Jim. You’re playing my trump card here. Ha, ha.

                                                            JIM

Mr. Stones, with our 2002 models, we’ll pack your car with an option to lay down your own road wherever you go. You’ll never need an off road vehicle again.

                                                            BUYER

That’s mind-bogglingly fantastic. Please, sign my up now.

                                                            BARRY

Whoa there. Listen, I’d like to keep your business, so what do you say I pack this car with solid gold, and stud the outside with diamonds?

                                                            BUYER

That’s a bit ostentatious actually… Who am I kidding? Sign me up, already!

                                                            BARRY

I know how you’re feeling, but what if I told you this car is also a Time Machine?

                                                            BUYER

Good god! Okay.

                                                            JIM

I think we’re going to lose him, Barry. If you buy now, the car folds out into a Villa in Tuscany.

                                                            BUYER

Yes! Yes!

                                                            BARRY

Tell you what, if you sip a pint of gas from the gas tank every day, it will grant you eternal life.

                        (BUYER squeals in delight.)

                                                            JIM

It’s also a space shuttle.

                        (BUYER falls on the floor,

                         convulsing with overwhelming

                         excitement.)

                                                            BARRY

We’ll throw in a CB radio that lets you talk directly to God!

                                                            JIM

Free with every purchase, pop superstar Britney Spears.

                                                            BARRY

Built into the car.

                                                            BUYER

Oh my god! I can’t take it! It’s too much!

                        (He dies.)

                                                            BARRY

I think he died, Jim.

                                                            JIM

Some people will do anything to get out of a sale, Barry. You’ll learn that in time.

Ending 1) BARRY: But his wife just had quintuplets. JIM: Yeah, RIGHT!

Ending 2) They look at their watches (lights off, change set… lights come back up). BARRY: Got it!

Ending 3) BARRY: True, Jim. Coffee? JIM: Thanks. Two sugars, please. BARRY: Hey, I ain’t getting’ you no suga! JIM: Damn, baby!

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