“Packaging” is the third comedy sketch in my Lewis & Clark series. The play was produced during the ShowOff! Festival of ten-minute plays in Southern California. The theatre company did a wonderful job with the piece and sent me a DVD of the production. The play, of course, is silly and anachronistic. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. One more cheer for you, the reader.
Three Cheers for Lewis & Clark, Part 3
Three Comic Vignettes Celebrating What Might Have Happened Before, During, and After the Great Expedition
SKIT 3: PACKAGING
CAPTAIN LEWIS – Dressed in explorer’s regalia; very serious type
“CAPTAIN” CLARK – Also dressed as an explorer; not as serious as his partner
CHUCK – Male or Female owner of a powerful talent image company; a self-proclaimed visionary in marketing and promotion
LOIS – Well-dressed 20-something, high energy
LISA – Also 20 and in expensive clothes, high energy
SETTING: Expensive, traditional interior, a cross between a board room and a library. Large table. Comfortable chairs.
TIME: Present day
AT RISE: A man sits in one of the comfortable chairs, reading from a “journal.” He wears an early 19th century trapper’s outfit. It’s CAPTAIN LEWIS.
After a couple of beats, “CAPTAIN” CLARK enters, also wearing his explorer’s outfit.
Lewis leaps to his feet and greets his friend half-way.
LEWIS: Hale and well met.
CLARK: Hail and Willamette.
LEWIS: Long time –
Clark makes a wavy action with his hand.
CLARK: No Sea.
They both laugh. It’s an old joke between them. They hug.
Three modern-day business types enter with a flourish. They’re all dressed in stylish suits.
Two women and one man (or all three women). The leader, CHUCK, owns the company. His associates are LOIS and LISA, both carry and write in small notebooks. All three act as if they have caffeine rather than blood coursing through their veins.
CHUCK: Whoa. Get a motel, would ya.
Lewis and Clark separate from the hug quickly and look away, embarrassed.
Chuck extends his hand to Lewis.
CHUCK: You must be Clark.
They shake hands.
LEWIS: Meriwether Lewis, sir.
CLARK: William Clark of Kentucky. At your service.
CHUCK: Welcome, Captains. I salute you.
Chuck salutes the men. Lois and Lisa do the same.
CLARK: Technically speaking, I am not a true captain, unlike my esteemed and worthy friend here.
LEWIS: Nonsense, Clark. You are every bit a captain. We’ll have none of your modesty.
CHUCK: Yeah, right, whatever.
They shake hands.
CHUCK: Name’s Chuck. My Associates. Lois and Lisa.
LOIS: Lewis. Clark.
LISA: Clark. Lewis.
Awkward silence as the women walk over and check the men out. The women SNIFF and are disgusted by what they smell.
LEWIS: May I ask your purpose in bringing us here?
CHUCK: Glad you asked because we’re here — TA DAH! To make you famous.
CLARK: We’re not?
CHUCK: Not what?
LEWIS/CLARK (Together): Famous?
CHUCK: I’m afraid you’ve had your fifteen minutes. Right now you’re stuck between the margins and the dust bins of history. Same ol’ story: yesterday’s front page, today’s back page, tomorrow’s footnote. Not to worry. We’re here to change all that.
CLARK: Did you read our journals?
CHUCK: Loved the drawings. But here’s a tip. Don’t send this to anyone until you run it through a spell checker. I don’t think there are sixteen different ways to spell “Breakfast.” And it’s “se-PA-rate” not “per-rate.” Got it? Now, let’s start discussing our package.
LOIS: You’re in the hands of the best. Chuck packages talent.
CHUCK: Please sit. We’ll take over from here.
They sit but look nervous, confused.
LISA: What can you tell us about the expedition?
LEWIS: We were commissioned by President Jefferson to explore the Missouri River and any other waterway, as needed, to discover a western path to the ocean. I offered to Captain Clark to assist me in this endeavor and he graciously accepted.
CLARK: (Nods at Lewis) And I am forever in your gratitude for allowing me to participate in this momentous expedition.
CHUCK: Enough with the mutual admiration society. We need a good name for the expedition, something punchy.
LOIS: How about Clark and Lewis Expedition?
CHUCK: Doesn’t work for me.
LISA: Lewis and Clark Expedition?
CHUCK: Still doesn’t sing.
CLARK: We paved a trail all the way to the Oregon Territory, if that helps.
LOIS: Oregoon Trail, hmmm.
LEWIS: No gane. No goon. Just gun.
LISA: We need something more drums-along-the-mohawky.
LISA (CONT’D): How about, “Trials and Tribulations Along the Oregon Trail?”
CHUCK: Still not catchy enough. I got it: “The O.T.” for Oregon Trail. Get it?
LOIS: Get it? Love it.
LISA: Love The O.T.
CHUCK: Needs more. I can feel it. It’s coming. Yes. Yes. “The O.T.: Desperate Explorers.”
LISA: Here’s the tag, Chuck: “They’ll do anything to reach the ocean — and already have.”
CHUCK: I can work with that.
LOIS: What else can you tell us about your expedition?
LEWIS: What else?
LISA: You know, anything that makes it stand out from, say, a typical vacation?
CLARK: Well, there’s Sacagawea.
CLARK: Sacagawea. She was our Indian interpreter.
Chuck jumps to his feet and walks over to the two explorers.
CHUCK: There’s our hook: She. Was she a hottie? Did she have Grand Tetons? Legs to die for, eh? I bet she had a tight —
LEWIS: –I should say not.
CLARK: She had a child.
CHUCK: A child. Perfect. And she doesn’t know who the father is.
CHUCK (CONT’D) (Points to Lewis): Either you … (Points to Clark) Or you.
LEWIS: Balderdash! She was married. Quite married. In fact, her husband, Mr. Toussaint Charbonneau, a fine, reliable chap, traveled with us.
CHUCK: But behind his back, she was having an affair with the both of you. She was swapping. The Ol’Beast with Two Backs. Getting the Ol’ Rockies off, eh? I can picture it. Middle of the night. The husband sent off to guard the perimeter, wearing the horns of a cuckold. While you enter her teepee, remove her leather leggings and slowly make your way up the confluence of her thighs–
Lewis stands and POUNDS HIS FIST on the table.
LEWIS: –Sir! This was a scientific expedition. We explored no such place. We held ourselves to the highest of civilized standards and extended courtesy and respect to all, under extreme conditions, I might add. We discovered plants and rivers. My good friend Captain Clark drew maps. We spotted and recorded great herds of buffalo.
Chuck relaxes. Now pursuing a new idea.
CHUCK: Buffalo, you say? That’s good. That’ll work.
LOIS: It’s got bling. If that’s a word.
CHUCK: It is now. You know what I’m thinking?
LOIS: Go with it, Chuck.
LISA: We’re down, Chuck.
CHUCK: Buffalo roam everywhere. Am I right? Big, ugly, disgusting suckers. Right? Dumb as an ox. Anyone know what Buffalo tastes like?
LISA: Like chicken?
CLARK: Actually, if I may interject, in point of fact, buffalo tastes more like beef.
The three marketers stare at Clark in disbelief. A beat, then…
LOIS: But I’ve heard it’s leaner than chicken.
CHUCK: There you go. The perfect food. Tastes great, good for the heart. I see it now. An entire Lewis and Clark line of Buffalo products.
LISA: Even Buffalo by-products.
CHUCK: Buffalo burgers. Buffalo top sirloin. Buffalo gizzards.
CLARK: I seriously doubt buffalo have gizzards.
CHUCK: They do now.
LEWIS: This is complete and utter balderdash!
Lewis returns to his seat. Chuck walks over to both men and puts his arms around them. Chuck looks at the ceiling.
CHUCK: Captain Lewis, Captain Clark. When we’re done with you, they’ll be celebrating your journey for one hundred, no, make it two hundred years. And you know what’s even better? We’ll be able to sell more stuff. Important, cheap stuff. Like kitchen magnets.
LOIS: How’s this for an apparel idea, Chuck: “My ancestors followed the Oregon Trail and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
Chuck walks away from the men as he brainstorms with his team.
LISA: We can celebrate where The Oregon Trail, The O.T., ended.
CHUCK: Why limit ourselves to one end? Why not many? Let’s claim the Oregon Trail ended in Seaside. And it also ended in Astoria. Oregon City. Beaverton.
LEWIS & CLARK (Together) Beaverton???
CHUCK: Okay, forget Beaverton, Oregon. Nothing meaningful ever happens in Beaverton. But, think about it, my courageous friends. They’ll name schools after you. Colleges. Restaurants. Taverns. Rivers. Ball teams. Slums.
LISA: Your faces will be on everything from billboards to postage stamps to milk cartoons.
The two explorers look at each other, nod, then stand. They walk to the door.
CHUCK: Where are you going?
LEWIS: I am going back on the Trail. I would rather eat fleas than do business with people like you.
CLARK: Would you mind if I tag along again?
LEWIS: I would be honored. Let us get out of here while we still have our good names, Captain Clark.
CLARK: Right behind you, Captain Lewis.
The two explorers exit quickly.
CHUCK: NAMES? By the time I’m done, every household in America will know who you are. Parents will name their sons after you. Think about it. An entire generation of boys named Meriwether. Ah, let them go. Who’s next?
LOIS: Some dour runt from France named Napoleon.
CHUCK: Napoleon? Napoleon. Now, THAT’S a name I can work with. We’ll put some lifts in his shoes and name a pastry after him. What do you think?
(END OF PLAY)