Gorshinmania!

On this, the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan show, I thought I’d share a comedy sketch that I wrote for The Madhouse Theater Company, and which they performed last month at Montgomery County Community College. (Frank Gorshin, in case you’re wondering, was an impressionist who appeared on the Ed Sullivan show ahead of the Beatles. He’s probably best known for playing the Riddler on Bat Man.)

Gorshinmania!

Sheila, Ellen, and Marcy are standing in line for the first appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.

SHEILA: Can you believe it? The Beatles!

Sheila and Ellen scream. Marcy, is taken off guard and cringes.

ELLEN: I think Paul is darling!

Sheila and Ellen scream again. Marcy still cringes, but less dramatically.

SHEILA: I want to have John’s baby!

Sheila and Ellen scream a third time. This time, Marcy is expecting it. She just turns slightly away in anticipation of the blast.

Ellen turns to Marcy.

ELLEN: What about you? Who’s your favorite Beatle?

MARCY: I don’t know… Stan?

 Sheila and Ellen start to scream, then catch themselves.

SHEILA: Wait a second…

ELLEN: There’s no Beatle called Stan!

MARCY: Gary?

ELLEN: There’s no Gary, either.

SHEILA: It’s John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

ELLEN: And they’re playing tonight!

 Sheila and Ellen scream, but by now, Marcy is bored with the routine.

MARCY: To tell you the truth, I’m here to see Frank Gorshin.

ELLEN: Who?

MARCY: You know, the comedian. He’s on the show with some band tonight.

Sheila and Ellen look at each other quizzically as Marcy gets a dreamy look in her eyes.

MARCY: Frank Gorshin!

Enter Karen and Josie.

KAREN: Did you say Frank Gorshin?

Karen and Josie scream. Sheila and Ellen react with confusion. Marcy looks excited.

JOSIE: He’s the dreamiest!

KAREN: I want to have his baby!

MARCY: I DID have his baby!

Everyone looks at Marcy with horror. Marcy realizes she’s taken her enthusiasm a step too far.

MARCY: I mean… Wow, Frank Gorshin!

Lyle and Ted appear on the scene.

TED: Frank Gorshin? I love Frank Gorshin!

 LYLE: Hey! I think that’s him over there!

Lyle points to something in the distance.

TED: Hey, everybody! It’s Frank Gorshin!

A mob of teens pours onto the stage.

LYLE: Frank! Frank!

TED: We want to have your baby!

JOSIE: Oh my God!

MARCY: He’s waving at us!

KAREN: And he’s coming this way!

 Everyone screams. Even Sheila and Ellen are excited now. Mayhem ensues. Lyle faints. In a moment of quiet, Sheila turns to Ellen.

 SHEILA: Can you believe it?

SHEILA and ELLEN: Frank Gorshin!

Sheila and Ellen scream.

END

Evolution

Here’s something I mentioned in one of my classes today… Just a theory I’m working on.

I’d argue that throughout any given literary movement (or, more generally, artistic movement), there’s an ongoing debate of many, many voices, each representing a slightly different approach to defining and realizing the ideals of that movement. The debate isn’t always formal. Indeed, rather than writing or speaking about what literature should do, writers engage in this debate through the works they create. It might be helpful to think of each piece of writing we read not just as a text in and of itself, but as a declaration of what “good” writing should look like. In other words, a writer is never just telling a story. Rather, a writer is both telling a story and making a statement about how a story should be told.

With this distinction in mind, we can think of all of literature (from The Epic of Gilgamesh right through Fifty Shades of Grey* and beyond) as an ongoing conversation about how to tell a story. Writers influence other writers who, in turn, influence other writers still. As the population of writers increases, disagreements over “best practices” are bound to occur, but these disagreements yield new kinds of writing, thus ensuring literature’s continued evolution. Within this context, there’s always a dominant, overarching theory of writing that more or less defines a given age, but there are always other theories and forms lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the right conditions to emerge and assert their own dominance… Only to gradually drift out of favor as time and circumstances dictate.

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*I haven’t read it, but I understand that EL James wrote the series, initially, as Twilight fan fiction — so, essentially there’s some degree of conversation going on there, even if it’s limited.