A three part comedy sketch very loosely inspired by the TV show Under the Dome.
I wrote this comedy sketch primarily as an exercise and posted it to a thread in the libcom forums about the US TV drama Under the Dome. There was a brief discussion about why "apocalyptic" fiction always has to show people turning against one another, rather than cooperating, and suggestions for how this should be achieved (including, gosh darn it, happy endings, which are invariably the best way to ruin a piece of fiction by damping its impact, in my opinion). I took the alternative approach, and decided to show the stupidity of people refusing to work together - and a comedy sketch seemed the ideal form.
It is sloppy and badly written, which is the result of me not spending much time on it. However, I had fun writing it, and a few people seemed to like it, so, I guess, here it is, in all its unedited glory. In my head I imagined it being performed by The Kids in the Hall.
The Dome Sketch
Dome Sketch – Part 1: Beans
THE SCENE – A large glass dome stands in the centre of a laboratory. Outside it scientists in lab-coats, with clipboards, are monitoring the dome, and collecting data on old-timey comedy sketch computers (big tape reels spinning, lots of flashing lights and beeping sounds). There is a lot of noise and commotion. Inside the dome are three men dressed in shirts and ties: Steve, sat a desk, his legs on the desk, chair tipped back, hands behind head, eyes closed; Gary, sweeping the floor in front of the desk with a broom; Dave, pointlessly unstacking and restacking cardboard boxes from a stack of boxes behind Steve. There are two empty chairs opposite the desk.
Cut to inside of dome. No noise can be heard from outside of the dome.
DAVE: Only six weeks to go now.
GARY stops sweeping and leans on broom.
GARY: You know, it seems like only yesterday that we three noble test subjects volunteered to enter the dome for the first time to take part in this momentous, ground-breaking science experiment.
DAVE: It was four hours ago!
GARY: Oh yeah! I forgot. It seems longer, somehow. The days just drag on and on.
DAVE: The hours.
GARY: So why are we here?
DAVE: Well some theologians believe...
GARY: No, no, I mean: why are we here? What’s the experiment for?
DAVE: Oh, I see! Beats me! Before we got in here I asked one of the scientists, and he just walked away cackling maniacally. A nice fellow – likes to laugh a lot. Anyway, I guess they know what they’re doing. They’re the ones in lab-coats, after all.
GARY: Yeah, I guess you’re right.
STEVE [Without moving, eyes still shut.]: Will you two keep it down! Some of us are trying to work, here!
GARY: How come he gets to be in charge? How come you get to be in charge?
STEVE [Eyes open, sitting up now, feet off desk]: I called dibs on the beans.
DAVE: He called dibs on the beans.
GARY: Oh yeah! I forgot about the beans. [Pauses, looking at cardboard boxes] But why beans though? I don’t think they thought that through properly.
STEVE: I like beans! You have a problem with beans? Hmmm?
GARY: Oh yeah! I like beans as much as the next man! But only beans? And with the three of us trapped in here for the next six weeks. It’s going to get pretty ripe in here!
DAVE: And has anyone noticed they didn’t put any toilets in here?
GARY: I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
STEVE: Will you two quit yacking and get back to work! I’m not paying you two stand around gossiping all day!
GARY: You’re not paying us at all!
STEVE [Getting up, walks to boxes]: Here! Have some beans!
STEVE tosses two cans of beans across dome to GARY, who catches them.
GARY: What am I going to do with these? Does anyone even have a can opener?
STEVE: We could develop some kind of primitive barter system and you could use them to buy stuff.
GARY: OK, I guess... . [Walking over to STEVE] I think I’ll have errr... [Looks about.] one can of beans, please.
STEVE [Pulls a can of beans out of box]: OK, that’ll be two cans of beans, please.
They exchange cans. GARY ends up with one can, which he stares at suspiciously.
GARY: Thanks, errr. I think... .
STEVE [turning to DAVE]: You want your beans as well, I suppose?
DAVE: Eh, I’ll just take the one, now, to save time.
STEVE: Suit yourself! [Hands one can to DAVE, tosses the other casually into box]
GARY: What shall we do now?
DAVE: We could eat the beans!
STEVE: Ha! Not likely, when I’ve got the only can opener!
STEVE takes can opener from top pocket, and waves it at GARY and DAVE who try to grab it, but he climbs up on desk and holds it out of their reach.
GARY & DAVE: Give it here!
STEVE: Oh, I’m not just going to just give it to you. Do I look like an idiot? You can borrow it, I suppose. For a small fee...
STEVE climbs down from desk.
GARY & DAVE: How much?
STEVE: Oh, I don’t know... [Idly fiddles with his fingers] Maybe just one tiny, little, insignificant can of beans... each!
GARY & DAVE both sigh, and sit down dejectedly in their chairs. STEVE, swaggers around and sits confidently behind his desk, puts his feet up on the desk, tilts back in chair with arms behind head, grinning, gently nodding his head in satisfaction. Everyone remains this way for a moment
GARY [Suddenly standing up.]: I could just steal the can opener!
STEVE: Oh, you could! You could! But then I’d just pay Dave to steal it back again. And give you a beating. [GARY looks worried] Just a small one. [GARY doesn’t look any less worried] Isn’t that right, Dave?
DAVE: You’re the boss! [Thumbs-up]
STEVE: That’s right, I am! I am.
GARY: And who says you get to be the boss!
STEVE & DAVE: The beans!
GARY: Oh yeah, I forgot about the beans.
STEVE: I’m the Bean Baron!
GARY [Unimpressed]: Steve the Bean Baron.
STEVE: That’s right, Steve the Bean Baron! Now get back to work, you two, these beans aren’t stacking themselves!
Cut to outside of dome. The scientists begin dashing from computer to computer, and shouting excitedly to one another.
Fade to black
Dome Sketch – Part 2: The Republic of Steve
THE SCENE – Scientists busy at work gathering data outside of dome. Inside dome as in part 1, but Dave is now pointlessly unboxing and reboxing cans of beans, Steve is sat at desk, and Gary stood in front of desk, next to empty chair, holding a broom.
Cut to inside of dome.
STEVE [to Gary]: Bill. Can I call you Bill?
GARY: It’s Gary!
STEVE: Sorry, I’m bad with names.
GARY: You’re married to my sister!
STEVE: Oh, yeah. Patty, she’s a swell gal. I miss her.
STEVE: You see what I mean? Now where was I? Gary. Ga-ry. Ga-ry. Ga-ry. The thing is Gary, I’ve been wanting to have a talk with you. Pun intended! [Nods at boxes of beans and laughs to self. Then stops when he sees GARY not laughing.]
GARY: Actually, I’d like to talk to you as well. You see, I’m struggling to get by on two tins of beans, especially with beans being so costly now, and all, and so I’d like to ask for a pay rise.
STEVE: The thing is Bill... errr... Gary! we’ve been having some problems as of late. You see, Bean profits have been falling, hour on hour, since we’ve been in here. [Gary fake laughs to try and curry favour.] That pun wasn’t intended, Gary. Honestly, Gary, try to take things seriously for once. As I was trying to say, bean profits have been falling, hour on hour, since we’ve been in here. I made this chart, see?
Gary pulls out from under the table a large piece of white card with a line chart drawn on it and holds it up upside down, then looking at it turns it the right way up.
DAVE: Actually, I made the chart.
STEVE: Yeah, he made it, I made it, whatever! Stop being picky, Dave! No on likes a show-off! The point is I can’t give you a raise. In fact I’m going to have to give you a pay cut.
GARY: What!? How much?
STEVE: Oh, lets say, one hundred percent.
GARY: You can’t do that!
STEVE: Two hundred percent!
GARY: That’s not even possible!
STEVE [Leaning across desk]: Three hundred percent!
GARY: OK, OK! Fine!
STEVE: Count yourself lucky. [Whispers to GARY.] If things take a nasty turn, I plan on harvesting Dave’s organs. I have a guy on the outside willing to pay good beans for them. The one in the lab-coat and glasses... [Points to group of scientists.]
GARY [Loudly]: That’s all of them!
DAVE: What was that?
STEVE: Oh, nothing! Nothing! [To GARY] Now we’ve got that out of the way, Gary, could you leave my office for a moment, please, I’d like to have a word with Dave. [Taps side of nose with finger. Gary gets it, and nods, goes to leave then looks puzzled.]
GARY: Wait! What office!?
STEVE: Just go and stand over there in the corner!
GARY: What corner!? Where!? [Gestures to dome.]
STEVE: Look! Just go and stand over there near the edge of the dome will you. [GARY stands at edge of dome, facing STEVE who gestures for GARY to turn around.] Da-da-da-da-da! [GARY turns around, occasionally peeking over his shoulder.]
STEVE [Pressing non-existant button on desk.]: Betty, will you tell Dave I’d like to see him now?
DAVE looks about bemused, then walks over and stands in front of the desk.
STEVE: Ah, Dave! Would you like to take a seat please? [DAVE sits.] How are things for you Dave? You like working here?
DAVE: Oh, yes, very much, Sir.
STEVE: Please, call me Steve.
STEVE [Troubled]: No, on second thoughts, better stick with Sir.
DAVE: Oh, OK, Sir.
STEVE: How is Mrs Dave and the kids?
DAVE [Smiling, shrugging, looking about]: Oh, errr, they’re fine, I guess.
STEVE: Good! Good!
GARY peeks back over his shoulder.
STEVE: So, I was thinking, now that Gary’s taken one for the team. [To GARY, making thumbs-up] Go team! [To DAVE] How would you like a promotion and a pay rise?
GARY: Oh come on! [Storming angrily back over to desk.]
STEVE: Oh what!? What!? Can’t we get a moment’s privacy here?
GARY: How can you give him a pay rise and me a pay cut?
STEVE gets up, walks round to DAVE, and puts an arm on his shoulder.
STEVE: He’s management now, practically part of the family, he can’t be expected to work for two measly cans of beans an hour, when he’s got a wife and, errr, how many kids..?
DAVE: No children, Sir.
STEVE: He can’t be expected to take care of a wife and no kids on two measly cans of beans an hour.
DAVE: Actually, I’m divorced, Sir.
STEVE: He can’t be expected to keep up his alimony payments on two measly cans of beans an hour.
DAVE: Thank you, Sir!
STEVE: You’re on the up and up, now Dave! Maybe one day you’ll have my job.
DAVE: Really? I always dreamed that one day I’d have my own food hoard!
STEVE: Don’t get ahead of yourself, Dave! Now, Dave, your first job as vice, junior, errr, thingy manager is to fire Gary.
GARY: You can’t do that! I’ve got an ex-wife and no children to feed, too!
STEVE: Oh, I can, and I have, too. Dave, get him out of here!
DAVE: Yes, Sir!
STEVE: Oh, and Dave, when you’ve done that, clear out your desk. You’re fired!
STEVE: Now that I’ve fired my only worker, there’s not really anything for you to manage any longer, now is there?
DAVE [Unenthusiastically]: Well, no, I suppose not.
STEVE: And we’ve got to think of the shareholders, by which I mean me, haven’t we?
DAVE [Unenthusiastically]: I guess that makes sense.
GARY: Don’t listen to him, Dave! We could unionize and then he wouldn’t be able to sack either of us!
DAVE [Unenthusiastically]: I guess we could.
STEVE [Worried.] Now, now! There’s no need for that! You’re not dirty communists [spits] are you? Here in the Republic of Steve we frown on communism. [Makes frowny face.]
GARY: The Republic of Steve!? I sure as hell didn’t vote for you!
STEVE: Oh yeah? You and whose army!
STEVE: Errr, I mean, lets all calm down for a moment! Guys! Guys! Lets not get worked up here, we don’t want to start a revolution, or anything? [Laughs nervously.]
GARY: Revolution!? Who said anything about revolution?
STEVE: Oh yeah? You and whose army!
GARY: Well, me and Dave, I guess!
DAVE [Unenthusiastically]: I guess.
GARY: Oh, yeah, and I’ve got this broom. [Holds it up threateningly, thrusting it at STEVE.]
STEVE: Yeah! Well, I’ve got these cans of beans!
STEVE rushes to boxes, and begins throwing cans of beans at GARY, who dodges them, and then begins gathering them up, looking pleased with himself. STEVE realizes what he is doing, and tosses the cans he is holding back in the box.
STEVE: Dave, you’re hired again. Just keep him away from me, will you!
GARY chases STEVE around edge of dome, beating him with the broom, while DAVE stands in the centre of the dome and begins picking up loose cans of beans and pelting both GARY and STEVE with them.
STEVE: Wait!? [They ignore him.] Are they placing bets!?
Cut to outside of dome. Scientists huddled excitedly in a group, passing money about, and pointing at each of the men inside the dome.
Fade to black.
Dome Sketch – Epilogue
THE SCENE – Close-up of Gary, Steve and Dave, sat (in that order), shoulder to shoulder, slumped up against the edge of the dome. Their hair is messy, faces smudged with dirt and streaked with blood in the form of war paint. They wear their ties around their heads, as bandannas, and each clutches a club made from a broken chair leg. Their clothes are torn rags. The mood is melancholy, and they look exhausted and out of breath.
STEVE: Well, it was tough, but we made it! That’s the first day over and done with – just another five weeks and six days to go.
Camera pulls out to reveal everything in the dome is destroyed. Cans and sheets of paper and fragments of desk, etc. litter the dome. Slumped up against the other side of GARY is a skeleton, its skull resting on GARY’s shoulder.
GARY: Where did he come from? [Pointing to skeleton.]
STEVE: I don’t know – I think he was here all along.
GARY: I don’t think so. We would have noticed him, wouldn’t we?
STEVE: He’s old. No one notices the old.
GARY: It looks like something’s been gnawing at him. See! There are teeth marks!
STEVE: It was probably a bear. Bears do that all the time.
GARY [Alarmed.]: No, it’s definitely not a bear, I think they’re human teeth marks!
STEVE [Laughing nervously]: Look, can we please change the subject, I’m tired of talking about Hank... errr... I mean the skeleton.
GARY: Well, what shall we talk about?
DAVE: We could talk about the weather.
STEVE & GARY: Shut up Dave!
STEVE [Sighing]: Was I not a good, fair and benevolent leader? I just don’t understand where it all went wrong.
DAVE: We’ll to start with, you took all food, then used that as leverage to try and control Gary and me. Then you tried to play us off against one another. Then you turned into some kind of power mad dictator...
STEVE: Shut up Dave! Here, file this for me! [Hands DAVE a sheet of torn, crumpled paper. DAVE casually tosses it away.] Thanks, Dave.
DAVE: You’re welcome.
GARY [Bitterly]: Don’t let him push you around, Dave! No, one made you King of the Dome, Steve. No one voted for you!
STEVE: Well, if it makes you feel any better, we could have a sham election, I suppose! Oh, who votes for me? [STEVE holds up hand excitedly looking around.] Come on Dave, hold up your hand, hold up your hand, Dave! Gary? Gary? No, no one? Well, I win anyway. [Losing interest.] Never mind. It’s hard work being leader anyway!
GARY: We did all the work!
DAVE: Well, mostly you, actually, Gary.
GARY: So, what do we do now?
STEVE: We could loot some beans!
GARY: We should just share them out equally, that way nothing like this will happen again.
STEVE: Gary, if history has taught us one thing, it’s that communism doesn’t work.
All three look at destruction in dome, blankly.
GARY: I guess you’re right.
DAVE: Maybe no one gave it a chance.
DAVE: Communism, I mean. Maybe it just got hijacked by charismatic people, former heroes of the revolution, seeking power for themselves at the expense of the workers, and the workers, caught up in the revolutionary turmoil didn’t notice until it was too late, and by that time a brutally repressive state apparatus was in place that could crush any rebellion before it even really got started. I’m just saying maybe we could learn from history and this time it would all work out OK.
STEVE [Laughing nervously]: Shut up, Dave! [Elbows DAVE in ribs.]
DAVE: Actually, now I come to think of it, no that’s not it at all.
STEVE: Damn right! Come on, guys. Lets make a fresh start of it. What do you say? We could get up off our backsides, clear up this dome, and rebuild it all over again, and start over as equals. Let bygones be bygones. [Pauses to judge mood.] Oh, and, errr... I call dibs on beans!
GARY & DAVE: I call dibs! No, I call dibs!
All three begin beating each other half-heartedly with their clubs. Then lose interest.
Cut to outside of dome. Last scientist leaves the lab, and switches off the lights on the way out, plunging lab into total darkness.