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Sketch Time Machine: The Story of the Weeping Camel

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: May, 2004

In general, I don’t think the tone of this is terrible – it’s just not a very funny sketch. Part of the problem – or a large part of the problem, actually – is the storytelling format. Because stories are designed to be a little sing-songy, and pleasant to hear, they don’t lend themselves very well to comedy. The main thing most people do is, they take the story format, and do something dirty with it: make it violent, or sexual, or inject cursing into the sketch.

That’s one way to go, I guess, and I certainly fell into that trap at the end of this sketch, but I do think there’s a better way to do this, and that’s just make a story that’s funny on it’s own, and then sketchify it. You’ll still have those elements of story theater, but without relying on the crutch of dirtying it up. I’d also suggest, in general, you probably want to throw something like this in the middle of the show, to vary things up. People are more likely to remember a sweet story when it’s buffeted by lots of things contrasting in tone, rather than kicking off the show on a low energy point, or worse, ending on one.

NOTES:

  • Man, the ending of this is bad. If I ever approached this sketch again, I would cut it off after the VO finds out what’s wrong. I think now, I’d be less afraid of having an actual, sweet ending, and have the VO and Camel be friends. I think.
  • My favorite comment I wrote down from the group on this one is: “Don’t make it a camel?”

Here’s the sketch:

The Story of the Weeping Camel

A Drama Dairy by Alexander Zalben

Characters: Camel, Man, Woman, Baker, V.O.

A Camel is on stage, crying. Man in Black enters.

Man

Camel, why are you weeping so?

          (Camel keeps crying.)

                         Man (Cont’d)

Please, Camel, illuminate this issue. What makes you cry so?

          (Camel keeps crying.)

                         Man (Cont’d)

Camel, please. Your torrent of emotion is too much. Tell me of what has made you cry.

          (Camel starts wailing uncontrollably.

          Man throws up his hands in frustration.

          Woman enters, wearing hair curlers.)

                         Woman

Husband, what is all this racket?

                         Man

It is camel.

                         Woman

Camel?

                         Man

Camel.

                         Woman

But why is Camel weeping so?

                         Man

That is the thing I am in the process of discovering!

                         Woman

Well, it’s a terrible racket.

                         Man

I know.

                         Woman

Have you tried calming him with a soothing pet of the fur?

                         Man

I knew there was a reason I married you.

          (Camel is weeping softly now.

          Woman approaches Camel, tries to pet

          It, but it snaps at her hand. Camel

          Keeps weeping.)

                         Man

I am at my wits end!

                         Woman

That was a close call.

          (Baker enters, wearing night shirt and

          carrying a rolling pin.)

                         Baker

Who is up at this hour, making such a noise. Why I will pummel him or her into an inch of his or her life!

                         Man

Whoa. Whoa there, Baker. It is not a him or her. It is Camel.

                         Baker

You mean to tell me that Camel was not assigned a sex at birth.

          (Man and Woman exchange a look.)

                         Woman

You know, we never thought to check.

                         Baker

But why is Camel weeping so?

                         Man & Woman

(Frustrated) That is what we would like to know!

                         Baker

Have you tried asking Camel?

                         Man

Yes.

                         Baker

Or comforting Camel with a stroke of the neck or hindquarters?

                         Woman

With very bad results.

                         Baker

Perhaps Camel is hungry?

                         Man

But our cupboard is bare!

                         Baker

I am a baker!

                         Woman

Of course!

          (Baker approaches Camel, holding out

          a cookie. The Camel stops weeping a

          little bit, sniffs the cookie. He

          eats the cookie, munching it thoughtfully.

          The Man and the Woman clasp hands overjoyed

          At the thought that the Baker may have

          Solved their problem. There is a pause,

          And the Camel starts weeping again.)

                         Man

It is worse that before!

                         Baker

Perhaps I should give up baking.

                         Woman

No, no.

                         Man

This is the most terrible thing.

                         Baker

I will give up and go back to sleep.

                         Woman

How? With this noise?

                         Baker

Ear plugs.

                         Man

I wish we had earplugs.

                         Woman

I shall fashion ear plugs from small pieces of our bedspread!

                         Man

Of course! To the bed, wife!

                         Baker

Good night you stupid camel!

          (They all leave. After a few moments, Camel

          stops crying.)

                         V.O.

Hey, Camel?

                         Camel

Yes?

                         V.O.

You done crying?

                         Camel

I think so.

                         V.O.

You know, it would probably give the proceedings some closure if you explained why you were crying so much.

                         Camel

True. It was because crying is the only way I know to get people to pay attention to me.

                         V.O.

Oh… I do that sometimes.

                         Camel

You do?

                         V.O.

Sure. (Pause) Hey Camel?

                         Camel

Yes?

                         V.O.

You still got some of that cookie?

                         Camel

Sure.

          (Camel looks around.)

                         V.O.

Just throw it in the air, and I’ll catch it in my mouth.

          (Camel throws the cookie in the air,

and it crashes to the ground.)

                         V.O. (Cont’d)

HAHAHAHAHA! Stupid Camel! I’m incorporeal! HAHHAHAHAHAH!

          (Camel starts crying again, while

          the voiceover keeps laughing. Man

          comes out and shoots camel, then

          exits.)

                         V.O.

My only friend is dead. And it’s all my fault.

          (Sound of gun cocking, then a shot,

          then of a body falling to the ground.

          Lights slowly fade.)

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