A Funny Little Exercise
I’m taking a creative writing class right now. I’ve been working on a short story for it and I’m about five pages in. I won’t go into much detail but it’s set in a typical fantasy setting with orcs and dwarves and what have you. I’m pretty sure things are going along well. Then today our teacher, whose techniques I’m not entirely sure about, asked us to do an exercise. In order to help learn about “making good plots” she asked us to take our main character and write them performing a stand-up comedy routine.
My main character happens to be a fourteen year old apprentice scribe. From a fantasy universe. With Middle Ages-esque technology.
Okaaaaaay. I decided to give it a try anyway. The result was funny enough that I thought I’d share it with you all.
Dustin stood in front of a crowd. Somehow, for some reason, he had to perform a standup comedy routine.
Never mind that he’d never even heard of standup comedy before now. So I’m supposed to…observe things? In a funny way? There are a lot of people out there. I think. Where am I? Dustin looked toward the stage exits. Each one was filled with strange dark figures with tentacles and one glaring purple eye. They told him (somehow speaking into his mind without the aid of a mouth) that if he failed to perform, and perform well, then he would be devoured by small beetles for a thousand years.
Dustin was terrified, to say the least. Nothing for it. I’ll just have to get out there and try my best.
“So…so…hello. Greetings, everyone. My name is Dustin Spademanson. I’m here to amuse and delight.”
Dustin stared into the dark room. Tentacled figures sat at every table. Silence filled the room.
“Who, ah, who here has read The Study of Realms by Sino of Antoli?”
“He, he, he really is a quiet amusing writer, actually. He once wrote that ‘Though men are tall as oaks compared to the smaller races, one will find that if he is sufficiently proud of this fact then the tree will be a far superior ruler.’”
Silence. Somewhere (and somehow, given their lack of mouths) there was a quiet cough.
“It’s actually really funny if you think about it. He was saying that it would, ha, actually be better to have a tree as a ruler than a person. Sometimes. Which is funny, because, I mean, a tree can’t really even do anything, can it? It just sits there and…and grows leaves. I guess that’s kind of the point.”
Dustin glanced to his left. A tentacle creature had removed a horrifying looking device from its suit pocket. Dustin didn’t care to know what it was.
“Ahem. So. I once saw a bird fly off with a man’s hat? He was telling a story in the market when suddenly this osprey just swoops down and takes his hat. He was so angry, running around the market yelling “Give me back my hat you bird.” That was pretty funny.”
Dustin swallowed. “I guess you had to see it yourself.” He wasn’t sure what to do now. Quickly, quickly, think of something.
“I know a few lyrics? Some amusing poetry? Perhaps that would satisfy you fine gentle…things?” He cleared his throat.
“Old Maude went down to the river to wash.
She did not see the lurking fish.
When she placed her basket…wait a minute, that’s not the right line. One second. Hmm. The last word rhymes with wash…”
Dustin stood there, silent, for about twenty seconds.
“Maybe I shouldn’t recite poetry.”
A soft sound, much like a relieved sigh, filled the room.
“Anyway. Oh! I know. A few years ago, when I was a new apprentice scribe, I was asked to copy the Alambuncus Philotatia. I worked on it for days before…and this is the good part…before one of the Masters looked it over and realized I was copying it totally backwards! I didn’t know much Loquacian, you see, and though I knew it was read from right to left instead of the normal way I didn’t know that I wasn’t meant to copy it going left to right! Oh, I had to scrub floors for weeks for that!”
In the back of the room there was a low rumbling sound. Was that laughter? It didn’t sound like laughter.
Dustin was at the end of his rope. He hadn’t a clue what to say next.
“Oh! I think I’ve remembered how that poem went.”
At that moment one of the tentacle beings in the wings pulled a lever and the curtain came falling down. The sound of quiet applause could be heard from the other side. Another tentacle creature walked up to him, pulled out some kind of pen, and wrote the word “MEH” in large block letters on his forehead. The next thing Dustin knew, quick as he had arrived, he was home again.