All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
MAYO: cashier, mid-40s
OFFICER MUSTACHE: veteran bad cop, mid-50s
OFFICER KURDT: rookie good cop, early 20s
OLD MAN ROBERT: hack comedian, late 70s
Set in a small Midwestern town’s comedy club lobby. It is Saturday night, a little after 10pm. The scene opens with the two cops being greeted by MAYO. Offstage, we intermittently hear bits of OLD MAN ROBERT‘s act, but we do not hear the audience laughing.
MAYO: Oh, thank goodness you’re here!
OFFICER MUSTACHE: What seems to be the trouble, Mayo?
MAYO: I tell you, it was awful. Violence, disruption, anarchy–
OFFICER KURDT: Slow down, Mayo. Please just tell us what happened.
MAYO: There was a person.
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …I hate my wife…)
OFFICER KURDT: And?
OFFICER MUSTACHE: What’d they do?
MAYO: They didn’t want to pay!
OFFICER MUSTACHE: No kidding? The nerve!
OFFICER KURDT: Excuse me?
(OLD MAN ROBERT: ...wish she was dead…)
MAYO: Yeah! You see, this is our open mic for stand up comedy.
OFFICER KURDT: Hold on a second. You charge people to see local comedians try out jokes?
OFFICER MUSTACHE: And some asshole tried to sneak in?
MAYO: Well, uh, no. They walked right in the front door. And yes, we charge $5.
OFFICER KURDT: Okay. Then what happened, Mayo?
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …she is so ugly…)
MAYO: I said they had to pay the $5 and they said they were signed up to perform on the open mic. I told them comedians either had to pay $5 or bring someone who would pay $5.
OFFICER KURDT: So they were a comedian?
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Goddamn, shit-head punks! Probably rich, too!
MAYO: Yes, officer, they were a comedian. I think they were visiting from out of town because they didn’t understand our pay-to-play policy.
OFFICER KURDT: Yeah, about that. Let me get this straight. Your business charges people to see comedy? And your business charges the people who perform comedy, too? And if the comedians can’t pay, you extort their friends?
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …won’t have sex with me…)
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Hahaha! That’s a right good deal right there!
MAYO: We are a for-profit business. We have weekly shows and classes. I mean, the open mic is only once a month, but if we didn’t charge the comedians tonight, we’d be missing out on, like, fifty dollars! We couldn’t keep the lights on!
OFFICER MUSTACHE: You poor thing. There, there.
OFFICER KURDT: Okay. So, the comedian from out-of-town did not pay to perform in front of an audience that had been charged admission. Then what happened?
MAYO: Then they asked me to justify charging comics to pay to perform in front of a paying audience. It was awful! I mean, I realize there wouldn’t be a show–er, uh, open mic–without the comedians, and then there wouldn’t also be a paying audience, but it’s the only way our business can figure out how to make that fifty dollars!
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …she is so stupid…)
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Fucking jackasses, asking you why you get their money. You are a business, they should just pay. No questions.
MAYO: I know! Thank you, officer.
OFFICER KURDT: Alright, they called you out. I still don’t know why you called us. Did they commit a crime?
MAYO: Well, then they started verbally attacking me. And the language they used! Rude words like “heinous” and “criminal” and “exploitation.” I felt so violated. Like, they were taking advantage of me because they did not want to be taken advantage of.
OFFICER KURDT: Mayo, I understand you’re upset. But so far the actions you’ve described aren’t actually a crime on their end. Your business model, though–
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …hate when she talks…)
MAYO: But then they just left! They stormed out the door and slammed it!
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Slamming doors? (Slams fist into palm.) Why I oughta–
MAYO: And they were leaving so quickly, they ran into our sign and it fell over. I think they broke it.
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Property damage? Now THAT’S a crime! When will fools learn that nothing is as important as property? Especially if it is business property?
OFFICER KURDT: They were in such a hurry to leave that they tripped on the $5 Open Mic sign? You mean, those two pieces-of-wood that say Coca-Cola all over them? The sandwich-board out in the middle of the public sidewalk?
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …but seriously though, folks. I hate my wife…)
MAYO: Yes, our vendor gave it to us. Now we have to fix it.
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Looks broke to me. Someone’s gonna have to pay.
OFFICER KURDT: You mean…to stand it back up?
MAYO: Officers, that’s why I called you.
OFFICER KURDT: Mayo, again I’m afraid they did not commit a cri–
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …wish she was hot…)
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Let me handle this, partner. Mayo, can you describe what the comedian looked like? Were they a woman? Or say, an unarmed minority? Did they look like they might be gay?
OFFICER KURDT: Wait, what?!
MAYO: Um, no. They looked like how the majority of comedians look. Straight, white and male.
OFFICER MUSTACHE: Aw, damn it all to hell. Sorry, Mayo, I don’t think we have enough to press charges.
MAYO: Really? B-b-but they–
OFFICER KURDT: And honestly, I think you should reconsider charging comedians to tell jokes at your bringer open mic. But I guess that’s your business. Good night, Mayo.
(OLD MAN ROBERT: …and did I mention she won’t have sex with me?)