The Vaudeville Life

A custard pie in the face

A monologue in the smokey haze

A jazz-fueled stupor

An almost religious fervour

A puppet held by its strings

Who knows what tomorrow brings

Because it is a vaudeville life.

A custard pie in the face

There is nothing as truly terrifying to a small child as a clown in its grinning rictus. No amount of water sloshing in comically oversized pants, custard pies bandied about in humorous jest or spouting fake flowers could ever endear Bozo to his main clientele – the 10th birthday crowd.

A monologue in the smokey haze

The stand-up comedian wiped his damp hands on his trousers and squinted out into the audience. The bright lights started to unnerve him.

“Folks, you know what happened to me on the way here?”

“No, but I am sure you are going to tell us right now,” yelled a heckler from the back of the room. There’s always a wise guy who comes to see a funny guy.

Hecklers always made his life easier. The world, after all, operates on a simple maxim – it likes to see wise guys taken down a few pegs. And he was the man to do it.

He wasn’t nervous anymore.

A jazz-fueled stupor

The 50 piece orchaestra reached the crescendo of the final movement in the symphony. It was all the boy could do to breathe.

And then silence. A clarinet blew the last note.

There was one single suspended moment of utter perfection.

The boy has now grown up into a jazz musician who plays the saxophone in a modish bar in the upscale part of town. He endlessly strives for the perfect last note. The day he does, he has decided, he will take up the clarinet.

An almost religious fervor

The Glorious Mr. Fotheringue (pronounced Foh-thuh-ranj, in a pseudo-Gallic fashion) had a manic look in his eyes that completely unnerved his manager.

Mais oui, zat ees right. I want my next performance at huh Eiffel tohver. I am sure you can provide for some danseeng Bengal tigers. Zuh tigers are always a bon idee. And I weel make zuh tohver disappear.” 

The manager was nonplussed, “But that has already been done.”

“Mon dieu, zat Daveed Copperfield fellow again, iz eet? Has he left any famous building for zuh Glorious Fotheringue to make poof yet?”

The Glorious Mr. F, in his next billing, was mauled by Timmy, the dancing Bengal Tiger he had brought in as a prelude to his grand finale – making Heathrow Terminal Five vanish in a poof of indignant smoke.

There is a moral in this story – don’t try your funny tricks on Heathrow Terminal 5 – it plays the game better than you do.

A puppet held by its strings

The puppeteer always felt like an Omnipotent God, when he sat up in the rafters controlling his little puppets on the stage.

“What is Free Will when stripped to its bones?”, he thought while making his little prince dance through the Enchanted Forest. “That poor doll there dances to my tune, speaks through someone else who reads the words I wrote and has his entire story mapped out. Where is Free Will in that?”

His hands stilled. “Where is my Free Will?,” he looked upward and dropped the strings.

The wooden controls fell on the stage with a clatter and the story was over.

The puppeteer had become that dangerous thing – an Indifferent God.


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