You Must Be Jokin’ — A Short Play by Joe Yaffie

JOHN and BOB are two middle aged men. They sit in a café, drinking coffee and reading newspapers.

JOHN: Ok, so there was this guy…

BOB: What, where?

JOHN: Not here.

BOB: In the call centre?

JOHN: No.

BOB: From the bowling club?

JOHN: No, from — -

BOB: — -In your paper?

JOHN: No — -

BOB: — -From where then?

JOHN: I don’t know “from where.”

BOB: How do I know him?

JOHN: You don’t. Just — -

BOB: — -How do you know him?

JOHN: Bob, I don’t know him — -

BOB: — -Then what the hell do I care about some strang — -

JOHN: — -Cause it’s FUNNY.

BOB: Oh. Are you telling a joke?

JOHN: I’m TRYING to.

BOB: My apologies, go ahead…

Beat.

JOHN: It’s not going to be funny now, is it?!

BOB: Yes, it is. Go. Start again.

Beat.

JOHN: OK, So, there was this guy…

BOB: Yup.

JOHN: And he was Jewish.

BOB: Always is.

JOHN: No, not “always is.”

BOB: They run Hollywood, the Jews. They own all the writers. All the story tellers, joke makers.

JOHN: They don’t run this story … I … I made it up.

BOB: Go ahead then…

JOHN: I’m TRYING!

BOB: Go for it, I won’t stop you.

JOHN: You already have!

BOB: Tell me about the Jewish guy.

JOHN: No.

BOB: John, please just tell me about the Jewish guy.

JOHN: I said no.

BOB: JOHN, TELL ME ABOUT THE FUCKING JEWISH GUY!

JOHN: OK! OK, I’LL TELL YOU ABOUT THE FUCKING JEWISH GUY.

Beat.

JOHN: You better not FUCKING INTERRUPT ME! I SWEAR.

Beat.

JOHN: (Breathes in deeply, and sighs out slowly) So, there was this guy, this Jewish guy, and he gets in a taxi — -

— — BOB lets out a cackle, and tries to compose himself.

Beat.

JOHN: He gets in a taxi. And he tells the taxi driver where to go. And he, the taxi driver, starts to drive.

Beat.

JOHN: So, he drives and drives and suddenly, another taxi driver smacks into the back of him.

BOB: What ethnicity?

JOHN: Bob, why does that matter?

BOB: I’m just asking.

JOHN: Bob, it doesn’t — -

BOB: — — I’m trying to picture — -

JOHN: — — GREEN, Bob. He’s FUCKING GREEN OK…

BOB: Why is he green? Does he have a disease?

JOHN: Because I was BEING IRONIC, BOB. Fuck sake.

BOB: No one is green, John.

JOHN: Point taken, Bob, OK?

BOB: Well, is he white or black?

JOHN: Why does this matter, Bob?

BOB: Are you going to whitewash this story or are you going — -

JOHN: Bob. I swear to God — and I’m a bloody atheist — that I — -

BOB: — -Then why would you swear to God?

JOHN: I swear you are the most annoying person I know!

BOB: You swear to who?

JOHN: To you, you FUCK!

Beat.

BOB: Tell me the story.

JOHN: You keep interrupting me!

Beat.

BOB says nothing.

JOHN: (Speaking fast) So, the other taxi driver smacks into the taxi that the Jewish guy is in. And the taxi drivers start shouting at each other and — -

— — BOB coughs.

JOHN waits.

Beat.

BOB: What?

JOHN: Don’t cough.

BOB coughs, intentionally and over the top.

Beat.

JOHN: So, the taxi drivers start shouting at each other.

Beat.

JOHN: So, the taxi drivers start shouting at each other.

Beat.

JOHN: So, the — — I’ve lost the bloody place!

BOB: Jewish guy, taxi, shouting…

JOHN: Yes! They’re shouting at each other, and the Jewish guy’s shouting out his window “stop it, stop it!”

BOB: (Under breath) Stop it. Stop it. Stop the joke…

JOHN: What?

BOB: Nothing.

JOHN: Well that’s clearly bullshi — -

BOB: — -I said stop the joke, OK? I was being ironic…

JOHN: You were being an arsehole.

BOB: Are you telling the joke?

JOHN: Are you fucking serious?

BOB: Yes, just tell me the joke. I’m genuinely interested.

JOHN: You’re genuinely an arsehole.

Beat.

BOB: Well?

JOHN: Right. Fine. So, the Jewish guy is like “stop it, stop it!”

BOB: You already said that bit.

JOHN: I WAS RECAPPING!

BOB: AND NOW YOU’RE SHOUTING!

JOHN: Jesus fucking Christ.

BOB: You’re an atheist, you can’t say that.

JOHN: You’re an arsehole.

BOB: We’ve established that.

JOHN: Yes, arsehole, so the Jewish guy says “stop it”, and then the police turn up.

Beat.

BOB: Go on…

JOHN: I was expecting you to interrupt me.

BOB: Nope.

JOHN: Final chance?

BOB: Go on, I said.

JOHN: Alright, fine. So, the police come over and arrest both the taxi drivers. The Jewish guy shouts “stop it, stop it!”

BOB: Again?

JOHN: Repetition, it’s funny.

BOB: It’s grating.

JOHN: You’re an — -

BOB: Arsehole. Con-fucking-tinue John.

JOHN: So, the policeman comes over to the Jewish guy…

BOB: Why isn’t he a police woman?

JOHN: Right, fine Bob. The policeWOMAN comes over to the Jewish guy…

BOB: Where’s the policeman?

JOHN: He’s a woman now, Bob. But her partner, who just so happens to be a policeMAN, for true gender equality in this joke, is in the car.

BOB: Good. Who drives though?

JOHN: Why does that matter?

BOB: Cause of the “woman driver thing?”

JOHN: They take turns, OK Bob? They both drive, and on this occasion, the policeMAN just so happens to be driving.

BOB: Good answer. Go on…

JOHN: Right, OK, the policeWOMAN says to the Jewish guy “I’ve stopped it. I’ve stopped it. I’ve stopped the fight.”

BOB: And the joke?

JOHN: Nearly. Now’s the punchline.

BOB: You’re not supposed to say that.

JOHN: You’re not supposed to interrupt.

BOB: True.

JOHN: So, the Jewish guy says “No, not the fight. Don’t stop the fight. Stop the meter.”

Beat.

BOB: And?

JOHN: That’s the punchline. I told you that was the punchline.

BOB: Punchlines are supposed to be funny.

JOHN: That was funny.

BOB: That was stereotypical.

JOHN: Well, that was my joke, Bob.

BOB: Don’t give up your day job.

JOHN: Don’t use clichés.

BOB: Right, well, that was … that was that.

JOHN: Yep.

Beat.

Beeping sound. BOB checks his phone.

BOB: I’ve got a fare, mate.

JOHN: That’s … “Uber” exciting Bob. Any good?

BOB: Into the West end. From Golders Green.

JOHN: Nice.

BOB: Always Jewish.

JOHN: What, just because they’re from Golder’s green?

BOB: His name is Chaim. With a Chhhhh (makes guttural sound.)

JOHN: Coincidence.

BOB: Always Jewish, I’m tellin’ you!

JOHN: (Imitating) Stop it! Stop it!

BOB: Still not funny, mate.

JOHN: Catch you after!

BOB: Shalom!

JOHN: Shalom Aleichem!

BOB: You can’t say that, you’re an atheist!

JOHN: An atheist Jew!

BOB sighs, puts on his Yarmulke (Skullcap) and exits.

JOHN’S phone beeps, and he puts his Yarmulke on too, and exits.

Blackout.

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