From the Author of "Abbott & Othello" and "Three Stooges of Verona" comes the latest uncovered Shakespeare play "The Nutty Merchant of Venice."
From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie Companion." I learned a lot of things there, mostly how to spell 'prairie." It was a solid gig and I'm proud of my work there. But, like any other job, there were...things...
As I noted way back when, the first bit that got on PHC was my skit "Abbott & Othello." And as I stated elsewhere, Abbott & Othello became kind of a cottage industry for me.
Now, my journal for February 2001 doesn't record much about this time. It says I was skipping a week (the grind must have been getting to me) and prepping a movie review sketch for the next show and a couple of bits for their shows that were going to be done in Europe. And I have those sketches in the queue. No mention of me pulling a sketch out of the draw and re-working it for PHC. But, that's what I did. I took one of my Shakespeare bits and adapted it into a radio sketch and send it. The sketch was "The Road to Hamlet." I have to say, I love this sketch, I always have. I got to do snappy dialogue and song parodies all in a genre I created. It's an epic sketch and has yet to be put on its feet. I thought it was perfect for the stage, but converting it to radio worked; I changed some sight gags into audio gags (what was originally a stage manager handing out props as needed now becomes the sound effects guy), and where I couldn't convert the gag, I put a hat on it to acknowledge it. I have to say, despite the strong nostalgia factor and its relationship to Abbott & Othello, I really couldn't imagine GK using it, even adding mouth trumpets to mimic what they did in their version of A&O. And, by gum, he didn't. So, I present the radio version of it here:
The Road to Hamlet
From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie Home Companion." I learned a lot of things there, mostly how to spell 'prairie." It was a solid gig and I'm proud of my work there. But, like any other job, there were...things...
Okay, back to Shakespeare! These skits have been a running theme for me since college. It started with Abbott & Othello and just grew from there. I managed to get The Three Stooges of Verona on its feet but none of the others. So, I pitched them to the gang at PHC.
I thought with the success of Abbott & Othello, they might be receptive to another sequel. They weren't. Again, somewhat pop culture, maybe too long, a kinda big cast of characters, perhaps no one could do a decent Dean Martin, who knows?
I attempted to break the skit up to follow their production of Abbott & Othello; mouth trumpets, breaking up the skit with GK pronouncements and such, making it a commercial for a show coming up afterward, but it didn't pan out. I was so disappointed that I didn't even bother to write "Here's Another Fine Tempest" that may or may not have played better on radio.
The Nutty Merchant of Venice
An epic post for an epic sketch...
Abbott & Othello
I wrote about my Pet Rock sketch earlier. I used that sketch as my signature bit (despite the circumstances), I was very proud of it, it was a tight, silly, funny bit, solid evidence that I was a writer. But it was dead. I would eventually need to create another signature bit.
I honestly don’t remember when I got the idea for “Abbott & Othello” but it happened. I certainly had done a ton of pop-culture mash-ups before (and since). And, weirdly, Abbott & Costello were in the zeitgeist in the 1980s; SNL, SCTV and others did A&O inspired bits. I remember one a joke; Elvis Costello and the group ABBA were going on tour as ABBA & Costello. Maybe all of this triggered the idea.
From the Slushpile...
With Shakespeare in the news again, it's time to pull out this piece I did for the SI Advance back in 2/98.
Lost Shakespeare: the Whole Shebang
The new television season is upon us. As network shows, pay-per-view, satellite TV, cable, movie channels, PBS and the security camera at the 7-11 all fight over a shrinking audience base, what can they do to grab viewers and keep them on their couches in front of their sets short of breaking into their homes, tying them up and holding them there at gun point (which was determined to be impractical and not very cost-efficient)? Maybe a sign of the times is the upcoming series of shows co-produced by PBS and Comedy Central. It's an ambitious project showcasing all of William Shakespeare's earlier, lesser works. Check local listings for time and channel:
Shake 'n' Baked...
Something had been smoked in the pipe bowls and stems unearthed from William Shakespeare' garden in Stratford-upon-Avon; the question was what. Researchers in South Africa now have gas chromatography mass spectrometry to thank for their answer. A piece in the Conversation based on the report published in the South African Journal of Science explains the "technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago." Eight of the 24 pipe-fragment samples tested were shown to contain cannabis; another had evidence of nicotine, and two more "evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves."
Well, he must have been high to write some of this stuff...
Freelance writer, still hacking away.