HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT?

Comedy sketch for live performance
by Victor Enns with Kevin MacDonald

CHARACTERS:

ANNOUNCER: Reads commercials running to centre stage & back

ELIZABETH (BETTY) BROOKS: Game Show Host

ESTHER WILLIAMS: Contestant 1

HARLYN HICKS: Contest 2

JIMMY BANG: Contestant 3

AUDIENCE

HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT?

STAGE DIRECTIONS: Music. Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.

 

Three contestants in their places; Jimmy Bang has his head on the third chair.

ANNOUNCER: (Running to centre stage as music winds down, Starts steadily shouting increasing volume to the end of Hurt!!) ) We welcome our audience to tell us on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the least pain you have ever experienced and ten the absolute most, HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT?!?!

AUDIENCE : (shouting) Nine! Three! Six. TWENTY TWO. IT HURTS, OMG IT HURTS!

ANNOUNCER; ALL-RIGHT! Now remember if you can in all your pain, you too can be a contestant, just bring your pain to the front of the stage. AFTER the show we will take your names and your pain. You could be a contestant on our next show!

ANNOUNCER: And now Here’s BETTY BROOKS! Our Host and QUIZ MASTER, the host with the most, or is she the (drawn out) THE INQUISITOR who just wants to hear your pain!!!!

BETTY BROOKS:  (As she makes her entrance she pricks herself with a pin and screams in great pain.)

AAUUGH!!! I would give that a 23. Yes, more than 22! (Looks pointedly at the audience member who said 22) And yes that’s out of a scale of 10 but I have a lower tolerance for pain. That’s why I’m the host. And now, let’s meet our contestants!

STAGE DIRECTION (There’s a space between each contestant so Betty can get between them and crouch to ask them their questions, as if conspiring or leveraging a big secret)

BETTY BROOKS: Hello Esther, where are you from? Tell us, what do you do when you’re not in pain?? 

ESTHER WILLIAMS: (Contestant 1) Well, when I’m not doing my regular job of trading stocks, I swim. I love swimming in the lake that I own. Sometimes I trade stocks while I’m swimming in the lake that I own. Yesterday, I traded the lake I own… while swimming.

BETTY BROOKS: Well Let’s see how you do on dry land! And now our second contestant: Let’s meet HARLYN HICKS. Where are you from? What do you do? 

HARLYN HICKS: I own all of Mississippi. I don’t do anything because I was born to a family of trilbillionaires which is a term that was invented just for my family. For fun, I sometimes declare war on Missouri. Which I hope some day to own. I already own their prisons.

BETTY BROOKS: Alright contestant number 3, how about you? Jimmy Bang, where are you from? What do you do?

JIMMY BANG (Contestant 3 ): Well for fun, I like to hang out in the hospital.

BETTY BROOKS: Really?! And where do you live?

JIMMY BANG: In the hospital.

BETTY BROOKS: You live in the same hospital that you like to hang out in?

JIMMY BANG: No. For fun, I go to another hospital. A slightly more fun hospital.

BETTY BROOKS: Good for you! Alright. Let’s pause for a word from our season sponsor GUARANTEED PASSAGESproviding the final prize at the end of the season.

ANNOUNCER: For the first time Guaranteed Passages is proud to offer an all expense paid trip to Switzerland! Just send in a ticket from HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT, with your contact info, how much it hurts, the nature of your problem, why you deserve to go, and a release for us to use your example in future advertising. Everyone who gets on the show HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT? is automatically entered for fortune’s final spin of the wheel. Stay in the fabulous SHADY REST HOTEL, with great view of the Alps. Guaranteed Passage all you need to do is follow the light!

BETTY BROOKS:

Wow! Isn’t that great?! Okay, back to our contestants.

Esther, what’s your problem? Why are you in pain?
ESTHER:

I have a stage four hangnail!

BETTY BROOKS:

What? What?

Esther: A hangnail, I tore a strip off my third fingernail. Finger doctor says worst hangnail he’s ever seen! (She displays her third finger and nail to the audience, yes essentially giving them the finger) )

BETTY BROOKS: Really?…. …Really! That’s all that you’ve got.? Ok, so how much does it hurt?

ESTHER: Lots. Lots and lots! Must be a nine. (Displays her number)

BETTY BROOKS (hesitantly) oh … ok! ……Isn’t that just Too Bad!

(Betty wipes her forehead with a handkerchief like Jimmy Swaggart.)

We’ll be right back after a few words from one of our fine show sponsors.

ANNOUNCER (BIG exhale when he gets to centre stage. Mime’s dissipating the smoke) Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Get your bananas, and your Band-Aids every day and every holiday from Zeit Geist, open all holidays and the proud banana Band Aid sponsors of How Much Does it Hurt? (flourishes a banana, with a Band Aid on it)

BETTY BROOKS: We’re back. So, Harlyn what’s your problem?

HARLYN HICKS (Whining) I’ve never had to work for anything. All my life I got everything I wanted, and now I am totally…definitely…bored.

BETTY BROOKS: So where is your pain? what do you suffer from?

HARLYN HICKS:  TERMINAL Stage 10 bore-doom. You can’t spell Bore-Doom without Doom! Bored to Death, except I don’t qualify for medically assisted death. MAID – WHAT A JOKE! But, I’m not laughing. I don’t qualify for death! No matter much it hurts having nothing to do. Making this number nine is the most work I’ve done this year. It’s a nine goddammit, a nine! (Reveals his number 9, very badly drawn), NO I’ve changed my mind it’s a 90! (Adds Zero to his number holds it up defiantly)

BETTY BROOKS: Oh, poor pitiful you! While we pause for a moment, a word from our sponsor, “The Cannabis Variations.”

ANNOUNCER: Give us your pain, and you’ll never never mind! (Giggles…turns to confide in the audience.) Hey, I’m high right now! And I don’t mind! (makes to run off in the wrong direction), whoops! (Changes direction with a pirouette, and rushes back to the other side of the stage all smiles.)

HARLYN HICKS: Hey, that’s our family business, and cannabis isn’t even legal Mississippi…yet. Though father has just made a large donation. (Sigh) He wants me to inherit and run a legit business (Accusingly) Did my Father get me on this show?   (Pulls out small bong) No wonder the show’s only on Bravo!!

BETTY BROOKS: (looking guilty) Of course not! I don’t even know your father. Let’s hear from you why it hurts, and hurts so much to be a nine upgraded to a 90!!

HARLYN HICKS: My heart aches. Metaphysically. I have no …what we used to call soul no meta physician has ever found my soul, no surgeon my heart. I have no friends I can trust, honestly or dishonestly. They all want my money!

BETTY BROOKS(hesitantly) Oh … ok! Isn’t that just….. Too Bad!

(Eliza wipes her forehead with a handkerchief like Jimmy Swaggart. Turns to Jimmy.)

Well Jimmy Bang, how about you? Can you tell us where you stashed your body?

JIMMY BANG: No Problem! Hah. Good One. I donated my body to medical research. Lousy cartilage genetics, lousy everything genetics. Bone on bone, bone on nerve. Pain all the way up and all the way down! EEYYYEEOOOW!!!

BETTY BROOKS: (quickly, using the letter only) O M   G! The suffering! The suffering!

JIMMY BANG: No Problem! I’ve donated the suffering to the department of psychiatry, and my body, limbs and organs one at a time to surgeons for class instruction. I was going to give them to the hospital gift shop or sell them to the priest as religious relics.[1] But good sense prevailed!

BETTY BROOKS: So what can you tell us about your journey?

JIMMY BANG: First the surgeons removed the arthritis on my arthritis. NO PROBLEM.

My body still hurt! I still had arthritis, and no cartilage. I was just a bundle of nerves and bones in a meat sack!

BETTY BROOKS:

Too much information Jimmy! That’s a visual I could do without! Go on.

JIMMY BANG: NO PROBLEM! Then the specialists said “your heart’s incompetent and shoulders are seizing up with more arthritis; the best solution is to amputate everything that hurts! SOUNDS GOOD!I said.  Yes, Jimmy we better amputate everything! I think we can save your head.”

BETTY BROOKS; What! What! You can’t be serious? Amputate Everything?!

JIMMY BANG: No Problem!” I says, let’s get started. Six months later. I’m back, back in another hospital. Now I’m waiting for a full body donation. Well not a new head. The twelve surgeons saved my head in a 48 hour surgery. It’s a miracle of modern medicine!! NO PROBLEM! Thanks to Tommy Douglas and universal public health care. Now I am just waiting for a body donor.

BETTY BROOKS: So what hurts? There’s so little of you left.

JIMMY BANG:I have phantom body pain.

BETTY BROOKS: O M G So everything hurts?

JIMMY BANG: No, I don’t have a headache. I used to have migraines.

BETTY BROOKS: So Good. Good. How about we hear a word from our sponsor!

ANNOUNCER:(Runs center stage In A Government Official kind of voice.)

Good Citizens, lend us your ears! No GIVE us your ears! AND your eyes, your blood, your bone marrow, your heart, your lungs, your cartilage, even your last breath to help somebody like Jimmy here! We will take it all!!!!

BETTY BROOKS: Well there you go! Now it’s time to use our Audio Pain-o-Meter… where you yell out a number for how much it hurts for either contestant. Don’t be shy!

Esther says her stage four hangnail is a nine. Ok Audience. What do you think. How much does it hurt?

Audience Scattered replies.

2, maybe a 3,

ESTHER:m Oh come on people have you ever had a stage four hangnail?nnine isn’t high enough I say ten, ten for the stage four hangnail!

BETTY BROOKS:

Let’s not quibble, we’ll meet Esther half-way so a 4.5 for a stage four hang nail! But the audience has the final word. Let’s hear you say how much you think s/he hurts…

AUDIENCE

Weak response counting off like Feist

1, 2 3, 4…and there can’t be more

BETTY BROOKS: So 4 is it! And now for Harlyn!

AUDIENCE: ZERO! A BIG FAT Z-E-R-O! That spells zero. He’s rich! HE DOESN’T NEED A SOUL! Let’s see him pull himself out of metaphysical pain with his own boot straps!

BETTY BROOKS: Be Kind….Ok, this is pretty close, so we’ll give Harlyn a 5. Tense moments here! Now over to Jimmy Bang! Let’s hear Let’s hear you say how much you think Jimmy Bang’s PHANTOM BODY PAIN HURTS!

AUDIENCE: (chants) TEN! TEN! TEN! TEN!

BETTY BROOKS: Before we declare a winner, our final LIGHTNING ROUND of PAIN!

Esther Can you feel this? HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT?

Stage Direction: she pokes Esther with the same pin with which she stabbed herself at the beginning of the show.

ESTHER: YYEEEOWW! Yes.

BETTY BROOKS (poking Harlynn )And how about you Harlynn, before the show you said you’ve got tattoos. So how about this. (Stabs him hard.)

HARLYN; Ouch! Is this even legal? ?(looks at the bong which he puts in front of JIMMY.)

BETTY BROOKS: And what about you Jimmy? She pokes the top of his head repeatedly. He feels nothing)

JIMMY BANG: Can’t feel a think, ha! I mean thing! How about my throat?

BETTY BROOKS: Jimmy tilts his head, Betty pokes his neck. In the filmed version blood would spurt out) So, what do you say Jimmy! HOW MUCH DOES IT HURT!

JIMMY BANG: Hmmm…I’d say five…(Betty Pokes him again) OK, that’s six! Final Answer!

BETTY BROOKS: Wrong Show Jimmy! Pokes him again.

JIMMY BANG: Ok a 7!

BETTY BROOKS: All right! Thanks for letting us feel your pain!

ESTHER WILLIAMS: Hey what was the poking for, you said it was the lightning round of pain. Doesn’t it count?

BETTY BROOKS: (quickly and firmly) No.

ESTHER: (Indignantly) What? Why did you do it then? I can’t swim with an open wound!

BETTY BROOKS: I just like poking people, and standing back waiting for them to admire me! Ok, now on with the prizes! So every contestant today gets a banana with an assortment of band aids. Everybody she’s poked starts to bleed. Thanks to Ziet Geist Food & More.

[Optional] I’m your host BETTY BROOKS, and that’s our show for today.

OR (interactive choice)

BETTY BROOKS: It’s prize-winning time! Jimmy why don’t you go first in choosing your prize, provided by our sponsors. They are! A banana thanks to Zeit Giest! A year-long monthly supply from Cannabis Variations, and a Grecian urn from Guaranteed Passages.™

JIMMY BANG: Well I haven’t really given cannabis a chance, I’ll go with the Cannabis Variations please. HARLYN HICKS was kind enough to give me a sample! (coughs)

BETTY BROOKS: Thank you Esther for being such a good sport! Here’s another band aid! Remember this limited series has three episodes remaining, the fourth, the ultimate FINAL SPIN for a first class Guaranteed Passage into the void! Goodnight!

……………………THE END…………………………

[1] Jimmy Bang Poems p.29 Turnstone Press 1979.

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Jimmy Bang No Shoe Blues

JIMMY BANG’S NO SHOE BLUES (Alternate Version)*

I’ve given up my cigarettes and whisky too
I’ve given up my cigarettes and whisky too
for pain, painkillers, pets and you.

You know why I get mad, you know
why I get sad; but I’ve stopped throwing
tantrums, or dishes – that’s dumb.

Barely have patience for loud rock n roll – and   these blues
Barely have patience for loud rock n roll – and these blues
I was raised No! never to need any NO! no rock n roll shoes – lucky me!

Size 15

Because I can crank the volume rockin in my wheelchair
So I can crank the volume rockin in my wheelchair
Hard enough loud enough to get through this nightmare.

No shoes,
No shoes – Jimmy my my,
you’re waking up Naked
with the No Shoe Blues!

 * Original version printed in Transition, Ted Dyck, ed.

 

 

This content is exclusively available to Patreon members who pledge $ or more.
Victor Enns reads and writes poetry and fiction. Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.