JOKER


August 12, 1989.

A tray of coffee was carried into a small room by a lady. She had a brown apron on and it matched her skirt. She wore a brown skirt that ran a bit across her knees.

She was in a hurry and in an attempt to catch up with the haste that built up in her, she spilled the coffee. Just a little spilled off and it was all over the young man with the brown bow-tie. He went up in rage but his black suit made it less of a focus.

The woman left the room in fury when all her effort wasn't appreciated.  The thick man behind the long desk with an array of books still had the coffee ignored as usual without saying a word. He didn't even act like he noticed the spill.

The silence in the room grew thicker by the moment and after a while the only sound that came off was that of the thick man thumbing his way through leaves of books. His moustache moved slightly as he muttered unclear words. He must be going through the records.

On the other side of the room were three guys. One was the one with the brown bow tie and a black suit. He sat close to the door and he was the only one who took a frequent glare at the fax isolated in a corner of the room.

The guy in the middle was in a long over sized wine shirt. You could spot the wet stain on his armpit. His trouser was quite oversized and his hair was out of shape; low, but shapeless. He checked his worn out shoe constantly and he tried to keep his toe from poking out.

The guy on the far end was rubbing his face with his palm constantly, you could tell the pressure was high and he wasn't just ready for the interview.

The thick man got off his seat at once and paced the room from one end to another. His target was the long, tall shelf west wing and when he was done picking two books he returned to face the three men in his room.

He came for the last guy with the suspender on and a bicycle sit cap facing the west and his face hiding in the shelves.

"Don't you think we should start with your name?", the thick man began, placing an arm on the chair ahead and sitting on it. He let down his suspender and his face hunted the face of the last guy again.

"Isaiah, sir."

"I will make this quick and fast. What's your idea of comedy? Can you act this?" The thick man paused, flipping through the pages of the book he had taken down the shelf. He stopped at a page and gave it to the guy who collected it and then gave a positive nod.

"What seems to be the problem?" The thick man asked.

"I don't know the dialogues and I can't take up long scheduled words and plot. I can't even act pretty well...But I can make a large number of crowds laugh..."

"Like you are making me laugh. We want someone who can mount the stage and do what we want him to do. Wait! Are you a joke or something?  Did you study the Arts in school?"

"I am a drop out Sir. I tried my hands on Science before I went another way to help my father in business. But I had this ability to make people laugh. It is natural and it comes with ease."

The thick man still looked uninterested. He grazed his hair and he faced the guy on the other end.

"Can you do the dialogues? That's what the company needs at the moment. Someone who can stage a comic."

"I am capable sir."

The thick man handed over the book to the guy.

"Read!", he said.

The guy read out the dialogue and the thick man still wasn't satisfied. He could have given him the job.

He looked at the guy in the middle and frowned.

"This is not the stage. You should have been in your best. You look so odd and unkempt." The guy swallowed his spit forcefully. He wasn't comfortable and the words coming for him was just way too harsh. He felt the interviewer could have just told him the job wasn't his instead of bashing him with words too much for him to contain. He felt weak and he could feel his feet shake as his eyes blinked uncontrollably.


The guy who sat at the other end and could read the dialogues got the job. The guy who couldn't read the dialogues lost his chance at the auditioning, so he was made to walk away, but it was never shown on his face that he was offended but the guy in the middle went away more depressed than ever.


 

*****



October 9, 2005.


A thick man in a brown suspender walked in a long room.  His brown eyes were deep in his socket, and his hair had gone gray. His movement was slow and it took time for him to get around the room.

The room had already been modified into a conference room. A round table was centered in the middle of the room with chairs around and a few men. Two to three chairs were still empty and it was hard for the thick man to get around. He had not moved too far around when a young guy with round lensed glass followed him up.

"Sir!" The man called as he managed to press the journal he held to himself. The thick man turned and he smiled.

"I got the invitation to come around. It's the biggest comedy show in the country I have heard of."

"Yes sir, it is." The young man extended his hands for a shake.

"You shouldn't be here. You should be with the judges doing the auditioning for the newbies."

"Ohhhh, really. I skipped that on the..." The thick man stammered. He let go of the word and then drew a deep breath.

"Before that, you should meet my boss." The young man said as he pointed to another young man in a well tailored black suit. He was at the door way where the janitor was trying to get rid of the Paparazzi.

The thick man followed the other man and they approached the boss.

He was friendly and calm and he was too respectful to have stopped everyone who came around him to speak to the old thick man.

"Welcome. I heard you were a judge, one who worked with Top Entertainment Agencies years ago."

"Yes!" The thick old man said, smiling. "Things folded up faster than I thought and I lost my grip on the share of the industry. But,  to be honest,I can still judge as good as I used to. I can help get the best of your newbies on stage."

The boss smiled in admiration and he shook hands with the thick man who had seen signs that he wasn't going to lose his new job.

"I am impressed", the boss said, then he motioned the young man to take the old thick man into the Judges' Quarters.

The boss watched the thick man move slowly around the room finding his way to the exit with the help of the young man whom he had employed to help people get around. He also had three other people employed to do the same job but that very man seemed to be almost everywhere.

The boss walked to table and took his seat.  He bowed his head and he forced a smile as his heart burned within him. He was the guy who came for the interview some years back but was turned off by the thick man because he couldn't  memorize the dialogues. He was perfect and well dressed, but that never counted. He thought about how he had gone back and worked on himself. How he had worked on the concept of being a freelance joker;one who could joke without cramming extensive lines of dialogues. How he had trained himself into a better word delivery. It was all because he was once turned down by the thick man. That drove him into birthing the biggest comedy show in the nation.

┬ęGodwin Okhuoya