Thursday, November 20, 2008

FSW: Chinatown Christmas

Blogging buddy @tjonsek suggested this week's theme in comments: horrible family holidays. I didn't have to reach too deep into my bag of painful, poorly suppressed memories to pull this sketch out. Still rubs me raw.

You know of course that comedy often requires painting in broad strokes and exaggerating. Comedy in real life is much more subtle because people aren't caricatures. That's good, right? I mean, it would *suck* if there were actually people like these in the real world. Can you imagine actually having a mother like Miriam? Can you imagine the psychic damage that would do? Can you imagine how twisted that would make someone?

Come back later for a recap with links to the other sketches and information on submitting for next week. And if you've got a theme you'd like to see us try out for next week, leave it in comments here, or on one of the other blogs when their sketches are up.

Chinatown Christmas

INT. CAR - DAY

The rain is pouring from the leaden sky in buckets on an unseasonably warm Christmas day. NOAH, late 20s, attentively pilots a sturdy SUV through heavy New York traffic. His father GERRY, 50s and balding, rides shotgun offering "helpful" tips. In the back sit MIRIAM, the matriarch of the ROSEN clan, looking older and feebler than her mid-50s warrant, HANNAH, Noah's college-age sister, and in the middle, BECKY. With her perky nose, blond hair, and blue eyes, Noah's fiancee looks as out of place as a slice of ham between two pieces of marble rye.

MIRIAM

Hop Kee is good. You liked Hop Kee last time, right Gerry?

GERRY

That's the one with the Hot and Sour I like--

MIRIAM

--No. That's Congee. Hop Kee's the one where the hostess always gives you the extra shrimp roll, like I'm not supposed to know she's flirting?

NOAH

Ma, we're going to Wo Hop, right?

MIRIAM

Yeah, yeah. I was just saying, Hop Kee's good too. You should ever decide to come back and visit, we could go there, nu? It's just down the street.

NOAH

Ma, we're visiting right now.

Miriam pats Becky on the knee.

MIRIAM

And we're so glad the two of you are here. Aren't we glad, Gerry?

GERRY

Yeah, sure.

(on traffic)

You want the right lane. It's clearer. You can get around two, maybe three of these

(yelling, as though the other drivers can hear)

slowpokes!

Noah moves aggressively to the right and accelerates. He is his father's son.

BECKY

Hannah. What are you taking next semester?

HANNAH

Sight and Sound Studio and Documentary, the Femme Fatale in the films of Roman Polanski, and Spanish.

GERRY

My little baby's going to be a big filmmaker someday.

HANNAH

Dad...

GERRY

Going to walk down that red carpet.

HANNAH

Dad...

MIRIAM

Muriel Goldstein's boy wanted to be in pictures. But he's still waiting tables, waiting to be a star. Breaks poor Muriel's heart. He could have gone to Columbia Medical School, but that wasn't good enough for him.

NOAH

Barry Goldstein failed high school biology. Three times.

MIRIAM

I'm just saying--

HANNAH

--You're just saying I'm going to fail, aren't you ma?

MIRIAM

Of course not, dear. I just think you could get a law degree first, and then try with your moviemaking. Is it too much to ask that one of my babies doesn't go hungry?

NOAH

Ma! I'm not going hungry. I'm doing just fine.

GERRY

(on traffic)

You're taking the Cross Island?

NOAH

Yeah, that's the way I always go.

GERRY

Well, that's a fine way, I guess, but the Van Wyck's faster. But you're driving. Don't mind me.

(beat)

The middle lane's open.

MIRIAM

Becky!

Becky jumps. Her attempt to become invisible failed.

BECKY

Yes, ma'am?

MIRIAM

Don't call me ma'am, dear. Just call me Miriam. Or mom. Is it too soon for that?

BECKY

No, ma'am. I mean Miriam. I mean...

GERRY

You're spooking the poor girl, Miriam.

MIRIAM

What? I just told her to call me 'mom'. I'm welcoming. Who's spooking?

HANNAH

You are. I don't even want to call you 'mom' most of the time.

GERRY

The turn for the Van Wyck is coming up if you change your mind.

BECKY

How much longer?

EXT. STREET - DAY

The buckets of rain have turned to barrelfuls. Gerry, Miriam, and Hannah stand under Gerry's huge umbrella, trying to stay dry, as they talk to Noah through the window.

GERRY

You know where the garage is, right? Two blocks down and one over. You sure you don't want me to park it?

NOAH

No, that's alright. You three go in and get us a table. Becky and I will be back in a few.

GERRY

You want the umbrella, at least?

NOAH

Uh, it looks like it's clearing up.

Lightning splits the sky.

INT. CAR - DAY

Noah rolls up the window and pulls from the curb.

NOAH

I figured you could use a few minutes to catch your breath before dinner.

BECKY

Thanks. How do you do it?

NOAH

What?

BECKY

Not be crazy?

INT. RESTAURANT LOBBY - DAY

There's a small crowd at the front desk. Miriam pushes her way to the front.

MIRIAM

Excuse me? Excuse me?! Can we get some help, please?

HOSTESS

How many?

MIRIAM

Excuse me?

HOSTESS

How many in your party?

MIRIAM

Five.

HOSTESS

20 minutes.

Miriam ponders for a second and then...

MIRIAM

Come on. Let's go to Hop Kee.

HANNAH

But Noah and Becky are expecting us to be here.

MIRIAM

We talked about both. He's a smart boy. He'll figure it out.

INT. RESTAURANT - DAY

Hop Kee. Noah and Becky are soaked through. Miriam, Gerry, and Hannah sit in front of many plates of demolished food.

NOAH

I thought we were meeting at Wo Hop?

MIRIAM

We talked about both, nu?

BLACKOUT:

3 comments:

tjonsek said...

Very funny. You paint a good picture. I'm afraid we would ALL need therapy were I to use one of my suppressed memories as a basis for a sketch. Mommy dearest ring a bell for anyone?

Anyhow, I think the comedy was great. Good job.

Ken Robertson said...

Oh geez...I'm still laughing, that kind of laughter that comes from "please don't let me ever be in something that awkward ever again!"

Great stuff! Be sure and add the words "in bed" after you read your fortune cookie....that always goes over good in front of parents.

2old4this said...

Keep this up, you're giving me great ideas!