'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Tuesday, March 05, 2002 ]

The following takes place on the first night on the first week of Blitzkrieg 3D.

If events occurred in real time, we’d be here for fifteen freakin’ hours.

5:30 pm.
My phone rings. It’s Matt Cibula, to tell me he can give me a ride to the theater.

“What time should we get there?” He asks.

I tell him I always try to show up around 7:30 pm.

He agrees.

I tell him that I’m thinking it might be a good idea to get food before hand.

He agrees to this, too.

“Okay, so how about I show up in about an hour?”

Good, I tell him. That’ll be enough time to put together a package.

“Oh. I thought you wanted to go get food after I picked you up.”

I do. It’s not that kind of package. It’s a guns and printer package.

“Ah, guns.”

Yes. I’m bringing some.

I should explain here that since there’s a good chance that there are going to be guns in my show (because I’m Rob Matsushita) it’s best for me to bring guns down there as opposed to calling up my wife in the middle of the night and try to explain which guns I need, and have her have to go through the forty plus replica firearms in our office.

“See you in an hour, man.”

See you.

6:30 pm.
The phone rings. I answer it.

“Hey, gonna be late.”

I expected this call, seeing as it’s snowing outside like it’s nobody’s business.

Meanwhile, I’m still deciding which guns to put in. I grab some holsters, too, as well as a very nasty and real-looking plastic bone saw.

I debate bringing the chainsaw, but it won’t fit in the bag.

6:45 pm.
Cibula pulls up just as I step outside for a cigarette.

Cibula chuckles as I drag out a huge overnight bag and a gun case.

“How many guns are you bringing?” he asks.

I kinda went apeshit with the guns, but I figured, y’know, what if everyone needs guns in their show?

When we put just the gun case in Cibula’s backseat, it’s so heavy that it actually changes the distribution of weight in Matt’s car. To the extent that it now has much better traction in the snow than before.

“So, where do we go for food?”

There’s a Woodmans up the street.

I’m needing Red Bull.

And cigarettes.

And corn dogs.

For some reason, I really need corn dogs.

7:01 pm.
We arrive at Woodmans.

I grab eight Red Bulls, and because I just can’t decide between the pork or the beef corn dogs, I just get both.

Cibula laughs at the idea of buying so many corn dogs for one night.

But think of the huge laugh I’m gonna get when I walk in with not one, but two cases of corn dogs! That’ll be worth the price right there.

I tell Cibula, never underestimate the value of doing something unbelieveably odd.

7:15 pm.
We’re going to the theater, now.

I’m telling him about this comedy sketch I was just watching that has the line in it: “You expect me to sit in a restaurant for two hours listening to boring stories about your cat, to get dressed up, to put on makeup, and then not get the SERIOUS ASSPLAY that I deserve?!?”

This becomes a dare that I make: To get as many of the playwrights tonight to fit the phrase “serious assplay” into their show.

Plus, there’s an additional challenge of having a reference to the same character in as many plays as possible. A character who the audience will never see.

We name this character “Tim.”

You really had to be there.

7:36 pm.
We arrive at the theater and walk upstairs.

Doug Reed is there, as well as Buck Hakes.

Seeing that they are there, I say:

Good. Now, I’m going downstairs to get the guns and corn dogs.

Which is as good a line to get the ball rolling as any.

8:03 pm.
All of the writers have arrived, except John Sable, as he’s in the Broom Street show “Judge,” which has just opened.

Buck calls Sable on his Sable’s cel phone. As we are drawing titles out of the hat, Sable can listen in as he sits backstage.

I marvel at my own giddyness.

Already, Cibula and Reed and I just can’t stop cracking ourselves up.

I yell to the other writers, Man, you all are a bunch of penises.

Because for some reason, playfully insulting a large group of people seems like a good idea to me.

Hey, it gets a laugh.

We start drawing titles.

I draw the title “Brownie Points.”

Which makes a few people nervous, what with the “serious assplay” dare that’s going around.

We also draw for how many actors we’ll be using.

I end up drawing four women and no men.

So now it’s off to the bar, for some generous lollygagging before we actually start writing.

“Now, wait a minute,” Buck says, “that’s destroying the integrity of the whole thing before it even gets started--and wait up, I’m coming along.”

8:05 pm.
We head to Café MontMarte.

There is a band playing, with a cover.


We need to pick another bar.

Doug suggests The Great Dane.

8:45 pm.
Dave Pausch and I are at the cash machine.

The snow is really coming down.

Dave and I head down to The Great Dane, to see Matt Cibula and Doug Reed (who went ahead of us) start waving us back.

“There’s an hour wait for a table!” Doug yells to us, crossing the street.

Motherfucker! I yell.

So what do we do?

“I’m for heading back,” Doug says.

“Don’t we have people meeting us?” Dave asks.

“Yeah,” Matt says, “we’ll have to split up and go up both streets, here, just to catch them if they come down.”

We split up—this time Dave heads off with Doug, and I head up with Matt.

“So, we’re just going back?”

Yeah, we’re just going back.

“And then what?”

I dunno…write, I guess.

9:00 pm.
Matt and I walk into the theater.

Buck is just putting on his jacket.

“I was just heading down there,” Buck says, “What—“

There was a wait at The Dane, so we came back. So all our fuckaround time has been eaten up by the whole looking-for-the-bar thing.

“Okay,” Matt says, “I’m setting up. Anyone take this dressing room?”

No one knows.

“Looks like it’s ours.”

It’s time for Red Bull and a corn dog.


“You really brought corn dogs?” Dave asks.


“Can I…can I have one?”

Hell, yeah. The corn dogs are for all.

9:33 pm.
Fuck! I’m still pissed about not going to the bar.

I pull out the gun case and a shoulder holster.

Buck’s already laughing.

“Oh, yes, that’s right,” he says.

“What?” Lisa Konoplisky asks.

“Rob said he’d be the hall monitor from one to six if he could wear a shoulder holster.”

“You’re kidding.”

I pull out a Sig Sauer 9mm replica and jack the slide back.

Ah, I say. That feels better.

“Holy shit!” Lisa says, looking in the case.

There are two .357 Magnum replicas (one with a six-inch barrel, one with a four-inch).

Also, a silver Walther PPK.

Also, a .45 western revolver.

Also, a .50 caliber Desert Eagle.

Also a .45 automatic.

Also a 9mm CZ-75 auto.

I brought them for use in any of the plays, I say.

“Jesus Christ, that is fucking cool,” Lisa says. “I am so using a gun in my play now,” she says, running off to write.

9:56 pm.
I go outside for a cigarette.

9:58 pm.
I head inside to write.

Dave Pausch asks me if I want to go out for a cigarette.

9:59 pm.
I go outside for a cigarette.

10:09 pm.
I set up my laptop and printer in the dressing room.

I print a test page, just to be sure.

It works.

I tell Buck that we now have a working printer.

Buck tells me that Kathie Rasmussen has a problem.

Since I used to work in tech support, I check it out.

She’s using an external disk drive with her computer that it isn’t recognising.

I work on this for ten minutes before I give up.

She is forced to work on another computer upstairs.

10:24 pm.
I type in the title and descriptions of the characters:
Megan "The Gun" DuCott--Baddest Hit-Woman In The Mid-West.
Chelsea Fatt--a talented amateur.
Marsha Doe--Former CIA, now professional killer. She speaks with a Texan accent.

Megan DuCott is one of those characters who keeps popping up. She was in my last Blitzkrieg play, titled “Love, Lies, Bleeding.”

Interesting (not really) footnote here: Megan “The Gun” DuCott was a character I created for a video project that never got shot. She actually started out life (so to speak) as a zombie.

See, the story was about this guy who could resurrect living flesh into zombies he could control. He ends up selling his abilities to the mob, to bring back assassins who had been killed.

One of these assassins was, you guessed it, Megan “The Gun” DuCott.
“I thought Megan “The Gun” DuCott was dead.”
“Not anymore.”

At any rate, it never got done—but I just loved that name. So here she is, back and ready to kill.
Chelsea Fatt is the grand-daughter of another character of mine, Carolina Fatt (Alpha Kick-Ass Chick from Yoshi’s Heroes).

Marsha Doe, I’ve decided, is cousins with the character of Cindy from my short-lived tv show “TagTeam.” (Pray that I never bore you with that story.)

But I need another name.

I walk out into the stage area and see Buck talking with Craig Johnson, one of the directors.

Buck, give me a woman’s name.

“A woman’s name?” He thinks. “Phoebe?”

Phoebe’s good. Thanks.

“What about Candice?” Craig offers.

“No, don’t confuse him anymore with additional choices,” Buck says.

No, wait, I like the sound of that: Phoebe Candice.


I like that.

“Phoebe Candice,” Buck says. “Sounds good.”

Thanks, I say, and head back into the dressing room.

I type:
Phoebe Candice--a humorless psychotic.

Then I head downstairs again.

10:45 pm.
Kitty Dunn, Kate Hewson and Kathie Rasmussen are in the lobby, writing.

Dave Pausch stands nearby.

Kitty mentions that the play she’s writing with Kate might be about an urgent health care clinic.

"We need an emergency, but if it’s too big an emergency, they’d have to just go to an emergency room.”

Dave mentions that those places are only open until 9pm anyway.

So set your show at 8:45—there’s your tension right there, I say.

People nod, smiling.

11:07 pm.
Lisa is reading the first few pages of my script.

She is, thank God, laughing.

“Her grandmother ‘liberated an internment camp?’ That’s great! My partner’s gonna love that—she’s Asian, so she’ll be all over it.”

Well, the thing is, her grandmother did actually do all that, I tell her.


I tell her about Yoshi’s Heroes--the first play I wrote for Broom Street.

Oh, and by the way, I tell her, I thought you were really funny in “The Scrotum Monologues.”
(This was an improv show she did with my friend Ethan Mutz. Doug, I later find out, was also a member.)

“Oh, my God—I thought that show was really bad! I felt so bad about it!”

But you had the best line of the whole night.

“Which one?”

It was to a heckler—I still quote it—it was: “I remember my first beer, once!”

She laughs, remembering.

“Oh, that guy was an asshole!”

He was! But that was a good comeback.


She keeps reading.

She laughs at the baby line.

“You should make it a preemie,” she says, “that’s even worse.”



I am so writing that now.

11:34 pm.
I walk by Dave and ask him if he wants to look at my script.


Can I look at yours?


We read.

Kitty Dunn walks in.

“So,” Dave says, “how does it read?”

It works, I say. It flows nice, it doesn’t waste any time.

“I’m worried that the militia guy might be too sympathetic.”

Well, he’s kind of a sad character, so it’s only natural that we’re gonna feel for the guy.

“Yeah, I want the audience to be somewhat sympathetic, but not too much.”

Well, it’s the old rule. Audience always respond positively to intelligence.

No matter how evil the character is, the audience will always respect a guy who shows some intelligence.

By the same token, the audience will always respond negatively to one thing:


“Good point.”

Yeah. Audiences hate hypocrites. Now, if you can make the audience sympathize with a hypocrate—Tony Soprano, perfect example—you’re doing your job as a writer.


I’m gonna—just on the basis of what’s here now, throw you a whole bunch of suggestions.

Some of them will be good.

Some of them just suck.

But I’m not gonna tell you which.

Think about all your paths from this point on. Ask yourself: What is the audience thinking now? What have they figured out from what’s happened so far.

Now, subvert that.

“Huh. That’s a good idea.”



Here’s my whopping list of suggestions…

12:02 am.
Okay, I figure, I’m at nine pages. That’s a respectable amount seeing as it’s midnight and I know I have be here for six more hours, anyway.

Marcy leans in and gives me some keys, and briefly goes over what my duties are—which is just to make sure everything goes okay.

I still haven’t outlined, except for one bit:
Page 10—FIGHT.


12:33 am.
Matt and I read each other's scripts.

I am laughing out loud at his script.

We start reading each other scripts out loud, chuckling.

Doug, silent up to this point, slowly wheels around.

His expression is pained.

“Okay, guys,” he says, almost sadly, “it’s at this point in the night that I am in full-on panic mode. So please don’t read each other scripts out loud in front of me.”

Oh, shit, sorry, dude.

“Me, too,” he says, sadly.

So Matt and I walk into the backstage area to chuckle.

“I feel bad,” Matt says, “we’re both almost done and he’s still really working. Feel for the guy.”

Yeah, I guess it doesn’t help that we’re sort of flaunting our shit in his face.

“But still,” he says, “it’s fuckin’ funny.”




1:04 am.
John Sable pokes his head in.

“Are the Red Bulls in the fridge—are they somebody’s, or are they for everyone?”

They’re mine. You want one?

“Please, can I have one?"

Go for it.

John grabs one and goes back to writing.

Doug tells us that his show is now a British farce.

“You can’t go wrong with a scene direction, like, ‘everyone is now in their underwear.’ What-what?”

For the rest of the night, Doug leans up and hits us with a line from his script:

“’Good Lord! It’s the vicar!’”

This provokes me to start doing the song from “The Bishop” sketch on Monty Python.

Both of us giggle like idiots.

1:19 am.
“’Good Lord! It’s the vicar!’”

This provokes me to start doing the song from “The Bishop” sketch on Monty Python.

Both of us giggle like idiots.

1:37 am.
“’Good Lord! It’s the vicar!’”

This provokes me to start doing the song from “The Bishop” sketch on Monty Python.

Both of us giggle like idiots.

1:45 am.
I go out and have a cigarette.

1:55 am.
I head back in.

2:01 am.
I stop staring at the keyboard and start typing again.

2:03 am.
“’Good Lord! It’s the vicar!’”

This provokes me to start doing the song from “The Bishop” sketch on Monty Python.

Both of us giggle like idiots.

2:45 am.
I pop another Red Bull, but this time I sip it instead of shotgunning it.

I am on page 11.

Kate steps in and says she’s going.

“Wow,” she says, “we actually beat Matsushita! We beat Matsushita!”

Mazel tov, I say.

3:04 am.
Doug leans up.

Turns around.


Reads from his script:

“I say! You had better shower; you smell like a distillery!”

“How does a distillery smell?”

“With its nose! Haw-haw-haw-haw!”

One second.

Two seconds.

And suddenly, Matt Cibula and I are laughing so hard, we’re crying.

That’s so dumb, it’s brilliant, I say, and Doug laughs.

“It’s three in the morning! I know this because I found that funny!” Matt yells. “’With its nose!’ Reed, you’re a genius!”

3:15 am.
Matt tells me that he has to get home, and can’t give me a ride.

That’s okay, I tell him, since I’m supposed to be here until six, anyway.

“You finish your script?”


And he brays like a fisted donkey.

3:42 am.
I am writing with Doug again.

3:45 am.
“’Good Lord! It’s the vicar!’”

4:01 am.
I print out the first draft of my script.

Dave Pausch walks by.

I’m debating another draft, I tell him.

“Take it from me, at this point in the evening, another hour ain’t gonna help any script.”

I agree and decide that my writing is now over.

4:46 am.
I sit at the desk.

I stare into space.

I get up and look through the talent sheets—the forms that the actors have filled out, so that the writers have an idea as to who will be reading their words.

I pick my four choices, type them up, and print them out.

I lift up my script, thinking of actually proofreading it.

It is too heavy to raise to my face.

I put it with the other scripts.

4:52 am.
Doug is still typing.

He turns and looks at me.

"This was so not my night," he says, laughing, touching his head to the keyboard. "I want a do-over."

I go back to looking over my script.

“With its nose,” Doug says, and I crack up.

5:00 am.
Buck enters, just as my forehead is about to touch the desk I am sitting at.

He can tell by looking at me that I need to go home and sleep.

5:13 am.
I explain to him which guns go with what show.

He notes with no small degree of amusement that mine has the most guns in it.

And tells me to go home and sleep.

5:17 am.
I open the fridge.

Hey! I yell. Where the fuck did all my Red Bulls go? There’s only one left.

I blame Sable, I say, under my breath.

Buck tells me to go home and sleep again.

5:22 am.
I realize that Buck is probably right—and that there is no longer a reason for me to be there.

I call a cab.

“Union Cab.”

Uh…yeah…uh…I’m at, uh…

I look at a program for the theater, which has the address on it.

I’m at 1119…

“One thirteen,” Buck corrects.

Eleven thirteen East Mifflin—

“One thirteen East Mifflin, actually,” Buck says.


“You’re at the Bartell Theater,” the cab guy says.


“Okay, whereto?”

Um…sixty-seven-thirty-two J—

“Is this Rob?”

Uh, yeah.

No idea why this guy knows who I am.

“You ready to go now?”

Uh, yeah.

“Okay, we’ll come down and get you.”

5:45 am.
I am leaning against the wall, freezing, half-alseep, with a cigarette dangling out of my moth as the cab pulls up.

I get in.

5:47 am.
It occurs to me that it is entirely possible that I drank all of my Red Bulls myself.

5:48 am.
It occurs to me that my keys are at the theater.

5:57 am.
I walk back into the theater.

Buck sees me.

“What are you—“


I grab my keys.

Okay, now this time for real.

I head back to the cab.

"Good lord, it's the vicar," Doug calls after me.

6:29 am.
The roads are frightening. It’s still snowing.

6:32 am.
“—going to want to—oh, sorry I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

No, no, s’okay. We’re almost there.

6:45 am.
I walk into my apartment to find Betsy awake and at the computer playing solitaire.

She looks at me once and sees that Elf Needs Bed, Badly.

7:02 am.
I climb into bed to find Carmine “The Dog” Brigante waiting for me.

I scoop him into my arms.

Carmine, you’re the only one who understands me, I say, and pass out.

(as I slumber, click here to see my Blitzkrieg script.)

posted by Rob on 3:16 PM | link



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