(We are in a cramped, sweaty, cheroot-smoky basement-bar on the cheap side of town. Red fake leather adorns the walls, patchy and faded with nicotine stains and beer. The furniture is chipped plastic chairs and matching tables with aluminium legs. The barman is cleaning glasses, occasionally getting the barflies to spit in them for him because he’s too damn jaded to do it himself anymore. A soundtrack of elevator jazz drifts through the perma-haze from crumpled four-foot Wharfdales either side of the box-carton stage. The curtains sway with a unsourced draft)
Barfly (slurring his words): Wazza iteen?hit-oon-erairy?eye-tie-nairy?wazzup seeven’in, b’keep?
Barman (raising his eyebrows): Got a new comedian in town; goes by the name of ‘Gerrard.’
Barfly (trying to raise his eyebrows, but drops one into his whiskey chaser): Gerrard? (hics) See th’same Gerrard oo (hics again) saved Dominaria from Frexians?
Barman (raising just the one eyebrow, the other waits patiently): One and the same, my good man; the one and the very same.
Barfly (fishing in his beer): Ware-ziz mates now? Ware-ziz hero pals, eh? Wazzee doin’n a scumy dive like thissun?
Barman (so shocked that the elevated eyebrow leaps, momentarily, from his forehead, then lands with a soft ‘plop’ on his top lip – he now has a Hitler-esque moustache): Same thing you’re doing in this (does that air-quotes thing with his fingers) "scummy dive" – mixing with the rest of the scum.
(starts singing to the tune of ‘YMCA’ by The Village People)
Young man, there’s no need to feel down (I said)
Young man, pick your cards of the ground (I mean)
Young man, there’s a place you can go
Where you’ll find a sanctioned tourney
Young man, you can play FNM (I said)
Young man, against women and men (We say)
Young man, give your rating a boost
And become a real Pro player
It’s fun to play inside the?
Dee-See-Eye, eh? (it’s fun to register)
They got tournament rules, they got penalties too
Some promotional foils for you!
Young man, build those decks up today (I said)
Young man, send the forms right away (we say)
Young man, Mr Barclay awaits
In his stripy shirt and trousers
Young man, big Jeff Donais’s in charge (I said)
Young man, and old Buehler’s quite large (we say)
Young man, even become a Judge
And you’ll have the ultimate pow’r
It’s fun to cheat inside the?
Dee-See-Eye, eh? (it’s fun to shuffle in the)
You can rack up those points from your friends and your foes
Jussu ‘member that ‘anything goes’
(repeat to fade, arms flailing like a freakin’ windmill)
Barfly (so pissed he’s not sure whether that last statement was a compliment or an insult; his brow furrows): Jew mean b’that, y’bassud?
Barman (retrieving a comedy blunderbuss from under the bar): Whatever you want me to mean, you low-life, good-fah-nuthin’, lazy-ass, two-bit, no-hope looza.
Barfly (falling off stool): Wa-zaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (barf)
(The barman throws his head back theatrically and laughs heartily. He stows the cartoon projectile weapon and resumes glass-cleaning. He pauses to fart into a jam-jar and quickly screw on it’s lid. He writes ‘September’ on the label and places it next to the Tia Maria. Cut to backstage: Gerrard is in full heroic costume, looking not unlike Adam Ant in his ‘Prince Charming’ hey-day. With him is an old, warty gentleman – stooped and chain-smoking)
Gerrard (fidgeting with his hair): Wrath of God, Squee, I’m so nervous!
Squee (exhaling a cloud of blue smoke in the shape of an arse): Don’t worry about it, my son, you’ll do great, I just know it!
Gerrard (fidgeting with his cuffs): How can you be so sure? What if they’re an "Angry Mob"? What if they start throwing things (to us, conspiratorially)?Like some kind of "Stone-Throwing Devils", eh? (waits for canned laughter)?eh?
Squee (inhaling the insubstantial misty derriere through pursed lips): C’mon now, Gerry – you’re better than that! Sock it to ’em! (punches the air, misses, and hits Gerrard square in the jaw) Awww shoot!
(Gerrard collapses to the floor, eyes rolling and animated bluebirds twittering and tweeting around his head. A man dressed as a bowl of fruit pokes his head out from behind a lighting rig)
Fruit/Man (whispering): Hey, Gerrard of the Weatherlight? Two minutes to curtain up, you pansied fop!
(We are in a short dream sequence; the image is fuzzy round the edges – all sort of misty – and the sound of a Hi-NRG disco-synth beat rises in the background. Gerrard is training at the Barre, sporting a leather thong, a Bat’Lef, and a sext, Errol Flynn-like moustache)
Gerrard: (to the tune of ‘The Surry With The Fringe On Top’ from ‘Oklahoma’)
Moggs and Shades and Mercs better scuttle
When I’m out in my magical vessel
When I’m out in my magical vessel with my crew on board!
See that crew and see how they scurry
Karn and Squee and Starke and Mirri
Hanna too and old Linn Sivi, they?re a motley horde!
Now Squee’s all yeller and Starke’s a stooge
And I’ve got some serious issues
Coz Karn, you see, has my legacy
And Hanna’s got silky-pink tissues?
(There is a colossal SLAP noise, and the wistful hallucination disappears. Squee lifts a groggy Gerrard by the arm-pits and drags him onto the stage. Gerrard’s unceremonious entrance is greeted by intermittent slow hand claps and shouts of "Tell us a joke, you fat bastard!", "Pissed again?", and "Sing us a dirty song!")
Gerrard (suddenly realising he’s ‘live’ and standing to attention): Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it’s lovely to be here tonight in sunny?(pauses, then addresses the wings)?Where the hell IS here?
Squee (off stage): Jamuura!
Gerrard: ?Jam-what? (to audience) ?here in sunny Jamuura. Actually, it’s lucky that I made it here at all tonight, ladies and gentlemen?
Heckler#1: Not for us it isn’t!
Heckler#2: Show us yer t*ts!
Gerrard (pressing on): Yeah – me and the crew of the Weatherlight were nearly defeated by the power of the Prophecy expansion last year – I guess we should’ve seen that one coming, right? **BOMP-TISH** No, but seriously folks, those Moggs, eh? Two Moggs in a bar and one of them says to the other: "Are you a goblin?", and the other one replies: "No. But if you?re a-payin, I’m a-willin to give it a shot!" **BOMP-TISH**
Gerrard: I’m not saying Moggs are stupid, but to confuse ’em all you need to do is stick ’em in a circular room and tell ’em to go pee in the corner **BOMP-TISH** Stupid? I said to Squee, my manager — who, incidentally, is a Mogg himself — I said: "Squee – what do you get if you cross a War Elephant with an Imaginary Pet?"; he says: "Something that doesn’t exist cacking all over your carpets!" **BRRRRRR-DOMP!** Anyway, two Dwarven ponies go into a bar and the barman says "Why the long faces?" **BOMP-TISH** Silver Golems, eh? Karn live with ’em, Karn live without ’em! **SPLA-DOOOOSH** Here’s a thought?Does Darwin Kastle give all his creatures +0/+2 ? **HONK-HONK!**
Heckler#1: Don?t you know any jokes?
Heckler#2: Show us someone else’s t*ts!
Gerrard (showing a lot of pluck, isn’t he?): An Icatian, a Mercadian, and a Mogg are lost in the Desert and find Aladdin’s Lamp. The Icatian rubs it and a Djinn appears and offers to grant each of them a single wish. The Icatian asks for a ton of oranges. "Why?" asks the Djinn. "So I can eat the oranges to stop dehydrating, and then rub the peel over my skin to keep cool." "Good idea," says the Djinn and **PING** the oranges appear. He turns to the Mercadian and asks him for his wish. The Mercadian replies: "I’d like a ton of limes, please." "Why?" asks the Djinn. The Mercadian replies: "For the same reason as the Icatian; I can drink the lime juice and then rub the peel over my skin to keep cool." "Great idea," says the Djinn and **PING** it is so! Finally, the Djinn turns to the Mogg – "What do you require?" he asks. "I’d like a car door," says the Mogg. "Why?" retorts the Djinn. "So I can wind the window down when it gets hot!" **TA-DAAAAAAAAAAH!**
Heckler#1: Somebody get a medium – we need to let him know he’s died up there!
Heckler#2: (throwing a miniature chair): Geeeeeeet oooooooooofffffffffffffff!
(Cut to backstage)
Squee (mournfully): He’s dying out there!
Fruit/Man: I could send on the stripper – she always goes down well
(Squee is open-mouthed; he can’t quite bring himself to make the obvious joke. Cut back to the stage)
Gerrard (we’ve come in mid-joke): ?and then Mishra says, "Don’t ask me! It was all in one piece when I put it up there!" **BOMP-TISH!** Do you know I was chatting to one of those Metathran the other day; he was really depressed on account of his girlfriend having recently left him for a guy that looks exactly like him **BRRRRRRRR-DOMP!** Hey, those Metathran are a bit weird, aren’t they? I heard Urza’s got himself a theme song – it’s "Send In The Clones" **BOMP-TISH!** You know, they say it?s a small world – but I wouldn’t wanna paint it! **BOIINNGG!** Knock, knock!
Heckler#2: Who’s there?
Gerrard: Jamie Wakefield.
Heckler#2: Jamie Wakefield who?
Gerrard: Ah, the fickle nature of the Magic community! **BOMP-TISH!**
Heckler#1: Sing us a song or I’ll kill you!
Gerrard (nervously): Er?now I’d like to sing you a medley of songs from my latest album?
Heckler#1: With an emphasis on ‘bum’!
Gerrard (crooning quite astoundingly badly to the tune of ‘Fly Me To The Moon’):
And let me play a Falling Star
Let me see Hot Springs and
Crovax, Rathi Evincar
(the tune shifts into ‘Come Fly With Me’)
Come fly with me, let’s fly let’s fly away
On the Weatherlight we can take a flight
And we’ll rescue Cap. Sisay
Come fly with me, we’ll fly we’ll fly away
(the tune morphs into ‘New York, New York’)
Start spreading that plague, we’re leaving today
I want to be a part of it – Yawgmoth, Yawgmoth!
These Phyrexian hordes down Dominia way
Right through the very heart of it – Yawgmoth, Yawgmoth!
I want to bargain with the dude that never sleeps
And find I’m king of the hill, a number-one, top of the heap
These little plane blues, are melting away
We’re gonna make a brand new start of it – with old Yawgmoth!
If we can take it there, we’ll take it anywhere
It’s up to you – Yawgmoth, Yawgmoooooooooooooooooooooth!
(Cut to front of house. Greven-Il Vec and Crovax are dressed in aprons and sanitary caps. They each hold a mop)
Greven (mopping): What the shivan hellkite are we doing here, Crovax?
Crovax (mopping too): Quit your bitchin’, Greven; we fought, we lost, we do our time walk and then we get the frick outa here.
Both: (singing to the tune of ‘Car Wash’ by Rose Royce)
You might not ever get rich
But let me tell ya it’s better than diggin’ a ditch
There ain’t no tellin’ who you might meet
A Magic star or maybe even a Planar chief
At the Stronghold
Workin’ at the Stronghold, girl
Come on and sing it with me
Sing it with the feelin’ ya’all
Some of the work gets kinda hard
This is da place to be if you plan bein’ Evincar
Let me tell you it’s always cool
And the boss (Crovax shouts "Dat’s me!") don’t mind sometimes if you act the fool
At the Stronghold
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Talkin’ about the Stronghold, girl
Come on, ya’all and sing it for me
Oooh oooh oooh
(Work and work)
Well, those zombies never stopped coming
(Work and work)
Kept those Moggs and machines humming
(Work and work)
My fingers to the bone
Can’t wait till it’s time to go home
Talkin’ ’bout the Stronghold
Come on, ya’all, let’s sing it with me
Sing it with feelin’, ya’all
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Never seem to stop comin’
What’d I say
Keep those Moggs and machines hummin’
Let me tell you, it’s always cool . . .
(The image freezes as Crovax and Greven Il-Vec swish their grey-headed mops across the dusty foyer; credits roll up the screen faster than a speeding bullet)
Th-th?th-th?th-th?that’s all folks!
(Dah dee da-da da-da da-da da-da-da-daaah, dum dee-dee dum daaah daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah)
Tony ‘Boney Maroni’ Boydell