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?
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…
JOHN: It’s not going to be funny now, is it?!
BOB: Yes, it is. Go. Start again.
JOHN: OK, So, there was this guy…
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.
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.
JOHN: You better not FUCKING INTERRUPT ME! I SWEAR.
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.
JOHN: He gets in a taxi. And he tells the taxi driver where to go. And he, the taxi driver, starts to drive.
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!
BOB: Tell me the story.
JOHN: You keep interrupting me!
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: Don’t cough.
BOB coughs, intentionally and over the top.
JOHN: So, the taxi drivers start shouting at each other.
JOHN: So, the taxi drivers start shouting at each other.
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: 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.
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.
BOB: Go on…
JOHN: I was expecting you to interrupt me.
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!”
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.
JOHN: So, the Jewish guy says “No, not the fight. Don’t stop the fight. Stop the meter.”
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.
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.
BOB: Always Jewish.
JOHN: What, just because they’re from Golder’s green?
BOB: His name is Chaim. With a Chhhhh (makes guttural sound.)
BOB: Always Jewish, I’m tellin’ you!
JOHN: (Imitating) Stop it! Stop it!
BOB: Still not funny, mate.
JOHN: Catch you after!
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.