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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Saturday (2/14/09) 11:48am - ... wherein nobody expects performance art.

Months and months ago, I wrote this post about The Originals, a failed sitcom that's notable mainly because it was the first pilot for actors Jorge Garcia and John Krasinski.

Then I came up with a big list of TV shows that could star those two actors.  People seemed especially enthusiastic about idea #3:

K & G are a performance-art duo hired on by the CIA to foment confusion and anarchy in hostile foreign countries.  (Recurring guest role:  Andy Richter as their CIA contact.)
I was flattered by the praise, and I was intrigued by the premise myself, so I figured I would reify this a bit by writing a promo for the imaginary show.



               Promo for "Raoul and Dave Confuse the World"

               FADE IN:

               TITLE CARD:  "Raoul and Dave..."



               INT. BANK OFFICE - DAY

               RAOUL (30s) and DAVE (30s) sit in comfy chairs in a well
               appointed bank office.

               Raoul wears a bird suit that's been sprayed with blue paint. 
               Dave wears all-black, standard theater-tech.

               Waiting.

               Raoul picks up a coaster off an end-table and tries spinning
               it on his finger.

               Dave nabs it from him and puts it back where it was.



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE... NEED A LOAN"



               INT. BANK OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

               Now the banker, MR. TOBOLOWSKY (50s) eyes Raoul and Dave
               warily.

                                   MR. TOBOLOWSKY
                         Um...

                                   RAOUL
                         This?  We just did a show.

                                   MR. TOBOLOWSKY
                         How'd it go?



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE... ARE PERFORMANCE ARTISTS"



               INT. THEATER - DAY - FLASHBACK

               Raoul, still dressed as a bird (but without the paint)
               strides across the stage of a small black-box theater.  Fancy
               lighting.  Ominous music.

               An odd little machine sits off to one side.

               Raoul holds a scepter with a chrome ball on the end.

               A sparse, bored AUDIENCE watches.

                                   RAOUL
                         -- and the bird of reason shall
                         come down from the heavens!



               INT. TECH BOOTH - CONTINUOUS

               Dave, again in all-black, sits at a deck of consoles in a
               booth behind/above the audience.

               He turns a knob.



               INT. THEATER - CONTINUOUS

               As before.

                                   RAOUL
                         And bring you the eggs of --

               He plants the scepter in front of him.

               Right on cue, lasers light up, bounce off the chrome ball,
               and crisscross the room.

               The audience oohs and aahs.

                                   RAOUL
                         INSANITY!  And then you will --

               ZOT!

               Electrical sparks shoot out of the back of the odd little
               machine.

               Raoul peers closely at the machine --

               -- and blue paint shoots out of the front, catching Raoul
               full in the face.

                                   RAOUL
                         -- gah!  Paint!  Paint!



               INT. TECH BOOTH - CONTINUOUS

               Dave panics, turning knobs, pressing buttons.

               More sparks on stage.

               The stage goes dark.

                                   RAOUL
                         Um... can we have a do-over?



               INT. BANK OFFICE - DAY - PRESENT

               Right where we left off.

                                   DAVE
                         Not bad.

                                   MR. TOBOLOWSKY
                         What is it, exactly, that you do?

                                   RAOUL
                         We blow people's minds.

                                   MR. TOBOLOWSKY
                         People pay you for that?



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE... HAVE A VISITOR"



               INT. THEATER LOBBY - NIGHT

               COLONEL RICHTER (30s) strides through the lobby of a ratty,
               black-box theater to --



               THE BOX OFFICE

               He pulls out a stack of crisp bills, points to a cheap
               Xeroxed handbill ("Raoul and Dave present:  Equipage of the
               Mind"), and pushes the money towards the BOX-OFFICE EMPLOYEE
               (18, tats, piercings).

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         One for "Equipage of the Mind".

                                   BOX-OFFICE EMPLOYEE
                         You sure you're in the right place,
                         sir?

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         I hope so, kid.



               INT. THEATER - NIGHT

               Colonel Richter sits in the (sparse, bored) audience watching
               another Raoul and Dave show.

               Colonel Richter is the only one there wearing a suit.

               He's also the only one paying rapt attention to the show.



               ON THE STAGE

               A series of cardboard 'wave' cutouts oscillate back and
               forth, simulating the ocean.

               Raoul peers out over them.

                                   RAOUL
                         The mind is an ocean in turmoil.



               BACKSTAGE

               Dave turns a handcrank attached to a little device that moves
               all the cardboard.  (Think Michel Gondry.)

                                   RAOUL (O.S.)
                         Wake up, sheeple!

               Dave pulls out a remote and gets ready to press a button.



               ON STAGE

               Raoul continues the scene.

                                   RAOUL
                         Embrace the storms within!

               Giant fans wheel themselves onto the stage and turn on,
               blasting --



               THE AUDIENCE

               -- who wince, AD LIB complaints, and hold on to any thing
               that might blow away.

               Colonel Richter sits still, perfectly engrossed.



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE... GET A JOB OFFER"



               INT. MEETING ROOM - DAY

               A fancy, old-money meeting room, heavy on the mahogany,
               brass, and leather.

               Colonel Richter sits across from Dave and Raoul.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         We want you to work for the United
                         States government.

                                   DAVE
                         What do we have to do?

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         You have to blow people's minds.

                                   RAOUL
                         Hey, that's exactly what we --

                                   DAVE
                         Stop.  Just -- stop.



               INT. CATWALK - DAY

               Colonel Richter leads Raoul and Dave (who have visitor
               badges) down a long catwalk in a huge, elaborate, underground
               bunker.

               They pass a series of posters on a nearby wall.

               Poster #1:  WWII propaganda for the "British Confusion
               Squad."  The art has stylized pictures of music-hall
               performers.  The copy reads, "Jerry will never know what hit
               him!" 

               Poster #2:  A Saul-Bass-style poster for "The Federal
               Psychedelic Breakfast Agency", with stylized pictures of a
               guitarist, a meditating guru, and a Hamlet figure holding a
               skull.  The slogan beneath:  "Make happenings, not war."

               Poster #3:  a picture of Andy Kaufman.  The bottom of the
               poster reads, "Andy Kaufman:  he won the Cold War", with
               smaller copy beneath.

                                   RAOUL
                         The government's hiring performance
                         artists?  That's so cool!

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         The USPAA has a long history of
                         dispatching performance artists to
                         tactical locations.

                                   DAVE
                         That makes no sense.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         Dave, a closed mind is fascism's
                         best friend.  You think democracy's
                         been just spreading on its own? 
                         It's been the hard work of people
                         like you, expanding people's
                         horizons.

               Dave sees the third poster.

                                   DAVE
                         Andy Kaufman won the Cold War?

               Colonel Richter opens a heavy-looking security door.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         Almost singlehandedly.

                                   RAOUL
                         Where are we going?

               They walk through the door into --



               INT. EQUIPMENT WAREHOUSE

               -- the largest warehouse Raoul and Dave have ever seen.

               Shelves upon shelves of theatrical equipment.

               Large boxes labeled "close-up magic" and "chemistry".

               Racks and racks of elaborate costumes.

               A large inflatable pig floats serenely in a dark corner of
               the rafters.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         This is your equipment.

               For the first time, Dave's face lights up.

                                   DAVE
                         We'll do it.

                                   RAOUL
                         Sweet!



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE... TAKE THE JOB."



               INT. CONTROL ROOM - DAY

               Dave looks over a massive flatscreen that shows a rotating
               topological map.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER (V.O.)
                         This won't be easy.  These missions
                         take planning --



               EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY

               Dave hits a button on a test device, while Raoul looks on.

               Suddenly, the device soots sparks in every direction.

               Raoul and Dave run away.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER (V.O.)
                         -- they take technology --



               INT. MEETING ROOM

               The same expensive-looking meeting room as before.

               Colonel Richter sits across from Raoul and Dave.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         -- and sometimes you just have to
                         improvise.



               EXT. MIDDLE EASTERN STREET - DAY

               In an alcove off a dusty road lined with ramshackle
               buildings, Raoul secures a snow machine in place.

               Then a nasty-looking SECURITY OFFICER sees Raoul and aims an
               automatic weapon at him.

               All of this dialog is in Arabic with subtitles --

                                   SECURITY OFFICER
                         Put that down!  What are you
                         doing?!

                                   RAOUL
                         We're going to make it snow on this
                         street for exactly two minutes.

                                   SECURITY OFFICER
                         That sounds... okay, that sounds
                         kind of awesome.

                                   RAOUL
                         Doesn't it?



               INT. SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ROOM - DAY

               SENATOR GRAVES (50s) and other SENATORS, including the
               SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN (60s), sit at a fancy table on a raised
               platform. 

               They all look down on Colonel Richter, who sits at a cheap
               table in a cheap chair behind a cheap microphone.

                                   SENATOR GRAVES
                         Colonel, their intelligence has
                         predicted our every move.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         I'll tell you what they can't
                         predict, Senator:  performance art.

                                   SENATOR GRAVES
                         But it's just two guys.

               Colonel Richter rises from his chair.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER
                         Crop circles were just two guys! 
                         Two guys, some rope, and a dream!

               General hullaballoo.

               The subcommittee chairman bangs a gavel.

                                   SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
                         Order!  Order!

               The room settles down.

               Colonel Richter sits.



               EXT. MIDDLE EASTERN STREET - DAY

               Two SECURITY OFFICERS patrol the street.  Suddenly --

               Snow is drifting down from the sky.  Lots of it.

               One officer makes a snowball, throws it at the other.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER (V.O.)
                         They can do great things, sir.



               EXT. SMALL TOWN, QINGHAI PROVINCE - DAY

               Excited children run down a city street to see --



               GIANT HOLOGRAMS

               -- of Raoul and Dave walking through the mountains.

                                   COLONEL RICHTER (V.O.)
                         You'll see.  They'll change the
                         world, one happening at a time.



               EXT. PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - DAY

               A bleak, gray day in a bleak, gray city.

               PEDESTRIANS shuffle along the street.

               One of them looks up.

               Soon they're all looking up at --



               BALLOON ANIMALS

               It must be thousands of them, brightly colored, filling the
               sky.

                                   SENATOR GRAVES (V.O.)
                         You might be right, Colonel.



               EXT. PYONGYANG ROOFTOP

               Raoul and Dave pull back a tarp from a huge bin of brightly
               colored balloon animals.

               The balloons float up into the sky.

               Raoul and Dave look proud.

                                   SENATOR GRAVES (V.O.)
                         You just might be right.



               TITLE CARD:  "RAOUL AND DAVE CONFUSE THE WORLD"

                                                              FADE OUT.


Yeah, it's entirely unproducible[1], but who cares?  It was fun to write.

Side note:  I finished writing this last night, just before the weekly blues dance.  People at the dance asked me how my day went.  Somehow I couldn't bring myself to say, "I'm in a cheerful mood because I finished writing the promo for a nonexistent show about globetrotting performance artists employed by the U. S. Government."

______
[1] ... and jeez, what kind of promo script runs 9 pages long?

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