February 22, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall
Earlier this week I was asked by a friend to write a puppet show. By Thursday.
Sure. No problem. I’ve only got five other projects on the go, plus a day job.
So we compromised, and I wrote an outline for a puppet show by Thursday.
Just so we’re clear, normally I would pass on the gig or at least push back for a more comfortable timeline, but this request came from a friend and muse, so I made it happen. Apparently this is being done as a gift for someone who deserves such a unique gift, and the gift-giving date was Thursday. So, story outline by Thursday, happy gift fun, and a follow up with a full script sometime after that. No problem. It’s fun to apply my love of writing to such a frivolous yet meaningful endeavour.
There were, of course, certain caveats, conditions, requests… The puppet show must have Batman, a Nathan Fillion reference or three, and somehow involve My Little Pony. Also, no nudity. Okay. I can work with that.
The first thing I did was decide that referencing Nathan Fillion wasn’t enough, and I made one of the puppets Nathan Fillion himself. I also thought it would be fun for one of the puppets to have a puppet of one of the other puppets. How meta is that, huh?
As I was scribbling the outline, specific bits of dialogue popped into my head so I included them, although there’s no guarantee they’ll make it to the final draft.
So, here is what was given to the pleased and joyful potential puppeteer last night…
Untitled Puppet Show
Stage-frame is empty. Snarfletoot, a hand-puppet, peeks in from the side, sees the audience and immediately hides again. He repeats the peek/hide process a couple more times, getting less nervous with each peek. Eventually, he comes right out on stage, tentatively, pauses, and says, “Hi.” If there’s no audience response, he repeats the greeting with uncertainty until the audience says, “Hi” back.
“My name is Snarfletoot. Really. Okay, not really really. My really real name is Bob, but I decided that I like the name Snarfletoot better. So… my name is Snarfletoot.”
Snarfletoot explains that he’s waiting for his friend, Shiny Fungiggles. He’s worried because she’s late. He hopes she didn’t get lost. This is the only puppet show stage here, so she should be able to find it. Hopefully she’ll show up soon because she is supposed to help him put on a puppet show for the audience.
Snarfletoot muses that if Batman was there, he could help find Shiny Fungiggles. Then he has an idea, tells everyone to wait there for a moment, then zips offstage. After a few moments of frantically-searching sounds, Snarfletoot returns, with a Batman hand-puppet on his hand. He talks to the Batman puppet, explaining that Shiny Fungiggles isn’t there yet and he’s worried. Then he does an unconvincing Batman-voice and reassures himself that’s she’s fine. As his self-contained conversation goes on, Batman (an actual hand-puppet, not a puppet-puppet) enters from the other side of the stage, moves stealthily yet dramatically across the stage, and stands behind Snarfletoot.
Eventually Snarfletoot notices Batman and tries to hide his own Batman puppet. Batman asks him his name. He says, “My name is Snarfletoot.” Batman replies, “Okay, Bob. Do you need my help with something?” Snarfletoot tells Batman about Shiny Fungiggles. Batman asks what she looks like, so he’ll know when he’s found her. She has four legs, a big smiley face, a long pink tail and a flowing pink mane. Batman (cleverly) deduces that Shiny Fungiggles is a Pony. “Is she your little pony?” “She’s her own little pony. But she’s my friend.”
Batman says that he’ll help find Shiny Fungiggles, turns dramatically and starts to run off, then stops. “Can you hold the end of my cape for a second? Kinda make it flow as I run off to find your friend? Make it look cool and superhero-y. Thanks.”
After Batman leaves, Snarfletoot fidgets nervously a bit, worried about Shiny Fungiggles. He decides to sing a song to make himself feel better until Shiny Fungiggles shows up. Encouraging the audience to sing along, he sings a song about chocolate pudding and fruit loops. Or something. We’ll see what it turns out to be when I write it.
As the song finishes, Nathan Fillion wanders out and says “Hi.” Snarfletoot introduces himself and so does Nathan Fillion.
S: “Wait, you mean Nathan Fillion the star of my favourite TV shows?”
NF: “Yes, I am ruggedly handsome, aren’t I?”
S: “Um… Mr. Fillion..? No one said anything about being handsome…”
NF: “Not yet, but they will, my friend. They always do. They… always… do.”
Snarfletoot turns to the audience and looks dubious. “Uh huh.”
NF: “Trust me, kids. Ask your parents. Your mom thinks I’m dreamy.”
S: “So… what brings you here, Mr. Fillion? To this puppet show stage?”
NF: “Funny story… I ran into this… small horse—“
S: “A little pony?”
NF: “Sure. A little pony. And the little pony asked me to bring you a message. So here I am.”
S: “The little pony asked you to bring me a message?”
NF: “And that’s it. Just bring you a message.”
Snarfletoot does a deadpan look to the audience. “What’s the message?”
NF: “Oh, right. The message is… help, help, I’m trapped, the door is too small.”
S: “Where was she?”
NF: “Oh, it was right over there… no, wait, over there… or was it that way? …Hmmm…”
Snarfletoot decides that they need Batman’s help, and they run off to find him.
Batman creeps slowly out onstage, pausing occasionally to look around. Eventually he sees the audience and strikes a dramatic battle pose, as much of a dramatic battle pose as a hand puppet can strike, anyway. “Ha! You can’t sneak up on me. I’m Batman.” While Batman explains to the audience why they can’t sneak up on him, Snarfletoot and Nathan Fillion enter and stand behind him. Nathan Fillion taps Batman on the shoulder. Batman spins around in surprise and strikes a dramatic battle pose.
NF: “I always wanted to do that.”
Snarfletoot tells Batman about the message that Nathan Fillion had from Shiny Fungiggles. Batman deduces that they must figure out which door is too small. They look around. Snarfletoot points to the fire exit of whatever room the puppet show is in. They start to run over to check that door when Batman stops them.
B: “We can’t go over there.”
NF: “Why not?”
B: “We’re puppets. We can’t go farther than the puppeteer’s arm can reach.”
S: “What’s a puppeteer?”
B: “It’s the person who hides down there and moves us around.”
NF: “Really?” Looks down. “Ahhhhh!! Um… Hello…”
S: “How many arms does a puppeteer have?”
S: “How many puppeteers are down there?”
Nathan Fillion looks down and counts. “One.”
B: “Are you sure?”
NF: “Hold on, I’ll count them again… One… Yep, I’m sure.”
S: “But there’s three of us.”
Nathan Fillion looks down again, then back at Snarfletoot. “Yeah, that’s weird.”
They briefly discuss plans for when they find doors and how to determine if it is the small door they’re looking for. Batman suggests knocking. Snarfletoot says, “You mean like a knock-knock joke?” Nathan Fillion and Snarfletoot start telling knock-knock jokes to the audience.
After Batman tells them to stop telling knock-knock jokes (and they tell two more) they venture off in search of Shiny Fungiggles and the too-small door. Nervous and worried, Snarfletoot starts to sing the chocolate pudding and fruit loops song. A distant voice is singing along, and as the voice gets closer, Snarfletoot realizes it’s Shiny Fungiggles. He sings louder and she sings back, alternating lines between each other. Following the singing, they finally find Shiny Fungiggles. The little pony has a door frame stuck on her back.
Everyone is happy to see her and they help get the door frame off of her. There are a couple of jokes about the door and then Nathan Fillion does a quick count of the four of them, and looks down again at the puppeteer. “Only one puppeteer, huh? Yeah. Definitely weird.”